The Pro-Red Orchestra In the USA, 1941
New voices in behalf of assistance to Stalin, at home and abroad
While the reportage on things Russian increased in warmth, the temperature of pro-Red sympathy in America soared somewhat higher. Symptomatic of this was the bellow for aid to Stalin which emanated from the American Legion convention in Milwaukee at about this same time. Time for September 29 shimmered with its eulogy of the Legion, rejoiced at its bellicosity toward Hitler Germany and its fierce desire for war, along with approval of its almost unanimous support for the creeping interventionism of Roosevelt. It even voted for one of Roosevelt’s latest hobby horses, permanent universal military trainings.
Almost simultaneously with this were other indications surfacing in widely separated places. The Christian Century quoted the Jackson, Mississippi Daily News as calling upon all religious congregations in the state to expel any ministers who were in opposition to the U.S. becoming involved in the European war.(85) Apparently these anti-Communist Southern fundamentalists were unperturbed by the thought of full enlistment in a war with Stalin to make Europe one-half Red. In fact, there were elements which were of the mind that this latter appellation was a dirty political word. That same week the Toronto Globe and Mail, the city’s morning paper, embarked on a sortie to persuade other Canadian papers to join it in abandoning the word “Red” as a term for Russians.(86) And a few days before, war correspondent Edgar Ansel Mowrer, in an open letter to Roosevelt published in the vigorously pro-war picture weekly Look, founded in 1937 and already sporting a circulation of two million, urged him to clean out the “professional Bolshephobes” from all government departments, since they were hindrances who could not “honestly help us to destroy Fascism."(87) Nowhere in the Communist press could anyone find a more ardent ideological call than this.
To be sure, things seemed to be looking up for the Anglo-Russian cause in September 1941. Their joint invasion of Iran had resulted in success, hailed in Time as “Victors in the fortnight-old, 80-hour Iranian war.” Though Hitler’s invasions of strategically-located neighbors were uniformly billed as brutal aggressions, far softer and kinder verbiage was invented to describe the same thing when undertaken by Stalin and Churchill. And Time wound up its accolade by quoting from the New York Herald Tribune’s Russell Hill, who, at Kazan with Russian officers, drank bottoms- up toasts to Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, and “'reunion in Berlin.' (88) Though the U.S. was still not a formal belligerent, May 1945 was brilliantly forecast and anticipated.
In the meantime the assiduous promotion of still another wealthy pro-Stalinist, England’s Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, had begun, along with serious efforts in liberal circles to bring H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw to the U.S. to assist in helping “whip up enthusiasm for aid to Russia,” as Newsweek put it.(89)
Time’s salute to Cripps, Ambassador to Moscow since the lonely days of 1940, when the Stalinists had nothing but ridicule for England at war, included a tribute to his being “One man who has really been right about World War II,” since “From its opening gun, he maintained that Britain’s interest and Russia’s were the same,” while calling attention to his recent “paean to the Russian people."(90)
And when Eric Estorick’s puff in book form, Stafford Cripps, Prophetic Rebel (John Day), began to go the rounds a few weeks later, it was no scrubby journal of the impoverished left that hailed it, but the alleged tower of Republican strength, the Herald Tribune, at the hands of its warmly pro-Soviet foreign editor, Joseph Barnes. It was Barnes who called attention to this opulent Briton’s eloquence in behalf of the Workers' Fatherland: “Outside the Communist Party, itself, no other British leader,” asserted Barnes, produced such speeches, “which were like and sounded like Marxism."(91)
Not all the traffic was one-way in the burgeoning buildup of the Soviet in the fall of 1941. The Roosevelt regime was increasingly embarrassed by the continuation of the war between Finland and Russia, and dreaded non-interventionist congressmen arguing against aid to Stalin on the grounds that Russians would use American arms to shoot Finns. There were signs that a formidable residue of anti-war reservations existed among the populace and that not all the devices being used to work up war fever were effective. Pro-war Look was chagrined to learn as a result of their poll of 15,000 moving picture exhibitors at the end of the summer that “'Anti-Nazi' pictures — like 'Escape,' 'Underground' or 'Manhunt' — were rated least productive at the box office."(92) But there were hundreds more like these to come in the future. A similar conclusion was arrived at by the Gallup Audience Research Institute, headed by David Ogilvy, whose report was released the third week of July 1941. It concluded that there was no audience outside of New York City for anti-Hitler and anti-Nazi pictures, and that all propaganda movies had thus far fizzled.(93)