“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one” - A.J. Liebling
My father Bob Wilson took this to heart, and bought one and started his own newspaper, the Prairie Post of Maroa, Illinois in 1958, and ran it until he died in 1972. It never had a circulation of more than 2500 or so, but every week, he would fire off editorials at everyone and everything from local events to the actions of the nations of the world.
He may have been a Quaker peace activist in a Republican district, but his love and support of the farming communities garnered him enough respect that he eventually ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1962, though he lost. (He might have tried again, had he not died of an accident while only 49.) Many of his views ring true today. And he might have been willing to change the ones that fell behind the times. Although raised in the casual racism of the 1920s and 1930s, at the age of 15 he took stock of what he was being taught and discarded much of it as being wrong, and lived his life with respect for all.
I decided to transcribe his old editorials (I may make a book for some of my relatives) and every once in a while I will repost one here, as a view of how the world has changed wildly, or remained stubbornly the same.
January 7, 1960
HAVE WE GROWN UP?
Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts has announced himself a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
Speculation is wasted on the Republican primary, as the word is out the bosses want Nixon.
At election time, Mr. Nixon will have no more chance than a snowball in a blast furnace.
The guessing game on who is next to occupy the White House therefor centers on: Who will receive the Democratic nomination?
We would rather it were not Senator Kennedy, as Senator Kennedy would make an admirable Vice President to a man from Illinois whose first name is ADLAI.
Let us suppose that Senator Kennedy is nominated for one office or another. He is a Catholic. Has America yet matured to the point where we can choose men on their own merits rather than on religious grounds?
Where are the bigots who smeared Al Smith? Are they still among us? Do they sit next to you in church?... Do they sit next to the person who sits next to you?
The good people of Dublin, Ireland, who are 99 44/100% Catholic, have elected and re-elected as Lord Mayor of Dublin – a Jew!
Are “we” the only good people in America? Is a citizen who is non-Caucasian or non-Protestant expected to obey all the laws, but be forever banned from public office?
We must remember that the Communists pounce like vultures upon the inconsistencies in our national life, and broadcast our hypocrisies abroad for all to read.
Senator John Kennedy is an American patriot of the highest type, and qualified to hold any office in the land. He has even gone on record as opposing the official position of the Catholic Church on some matters of policy, thus arousing the anger of the handful of Catholic bigots who are the counterpart of our handful of Protestant bigots.
We feel he has the interests of the nation at heart, and should be considered on his own merits as a candidate.
January 14, 1960
THE BLUE-EYED SCUM
The vermin of Hitler's Germany are creeping out from beneath their rocks. Someone by night has smeared his mark of hatred, the swastika, on the houses of worship of Jewish people.
This is the measure of the Nazis; that they strutted and boasted in victory and bashed in the faces of Jewish grandmothers.
In defeat, they whined. Now, out of the darkness, they come with their scariest paintbrushes, all across Europe in the same night.
There are people who claim to hate Jews because “They killed Christ”... one of their own he was, you know, out of Judea. Yes, Jesus was a Jew. He was not a Christian minister, but a Jewish rabbi.
Isn't it strange that so many of us are confident – deep inside – that we are better than the Jews because stub noses are better than arched ones, light hair is better than dark hair, and blue eyes better than brown ones!
Doesn't the violence against the Jews arise out of inferiority, rather than superiority?
Look around you at the worlds of science, of music, of entertainment, of finance. This tiny nation of exiles, persecuted on every hand, has begotten clever, able and sensitive people who excel in all these fields, in every country of the western world.
How do we answer them, when we discover we are not their equals? With the club, the gun, the swastika and the burning cross? This is Adolf Hitler's road.
With the closed door, the shrug, the sneer? Is this the crime committed in the heart, which is no better in the sight of God than one committed with the hands?
The red swastikas appeared even here in Macon County, on the lovely new Temple B'nai Abraham in Decatur.
Shall we do nothing?
The good people of Germany did nothing. The synagogue in Cologne was burned, and one good churchman commented, “After all, it was not a very beautiful building...”
A few years later, Cologne with nearly ALL its lovely buildings was leveled in one night by American bombs – in a war the Nazis brought onto themselves.
The synagogue is Darmstadt was burned, and the firemen SIMPLY STOOD AND WATCHED. When the good people did nothing, then terror walked abroad.
Was this “only a boyish prank” in Decatur? Prank or not, it was a hand raised against the House of God. Will your church be next?
The Editor has called Rabbi Leo Turitz of Decatur, and learned that Gentile visitors are welcome at services there, which are held Fridays at 8 p.m.
A small group of people will attend these services this coming Friday. This is a public invitation to others who disapprove of this vandalism to make it known by letter, by phone, or by attending worship services Friday evening at 8 p.m.
Temple B'nai Abraham is located at 1326 West Eldorado Street in Decatur. The telephone number is Decatur 5740.