Arthur Brisbane Leaps to the Help of
By Henry Ford
(Reprinted from the 3 July, 1920, Issue of the house journal of the Ford Motor Co., the Dearborn Independent and slightly edited by Raymond Bray to eliminate the numerous uses of "which" for "that" in the original.)
Once more the current of this series on the Modern Jewish Question is interrupted to give notice of the appearance of the Question in another quarter, the appearance this time consisting of a more than two-column "Today" editorial in the Hearst papers of Sunday, June 20, from the pen of Arthur Brisbane. It would be too much to say that Mr. Brisbane is the most influential writer in the country, but perhaps he is among the dozen most widely read. It is, therefore, a confirmation of the statement that the Question is assuming importance in this country, that a writer of Mr. Brisbane's prominence should openly discuss it.
Of course, Mr. Brisbane has not studied the Question. He would probably admit in private conversation - though such an admission would hardly be in harmony with the tone of certainty he publicly adopts - that he really knows nothing about it. He knows, however, as a good newspaper man, how to handle it when the exigencies of the newspaper day throw it up to him for offhand treatment. Every editorial writer knows how to do that. There is something good in every race, or there have been some notable individuals in it, or it has played a picturesque part in history - that is enough for a vary readable editorial upon any class of people who may happen to be represented in the community. The Question, whatever it may be, need not be studied at all; a certain group of people may be salved for a few paragraphs, and the job need never be tackled again. Every newspaper man knows that.
And yet, having lived in New York for a long time, having had financial dealings of a large and obligating nature with certain interests in this country, having seen no doubt more or less of the inner workings of the great trust and banking groups, and being constantly surrounded by assistants and advisors who are members of the Jewish race, Mr. Brisbane must have had his thoughts. It is, however, no part of a newspaper man's business to expose his thoughts about the racial groups of his community, any more than it is a showman's business to express his opinion of the patrons of his show. The kinds of offense a newspaper will give, and the occasions on which it will feel justified in giving it, are very limited.
So, assuming that Mr. Brisbane had to write at all, it could have been told beforehand what he would write. The only wonder is that he felt he had to write. Did he really feel that the Jews are being "persecuted" when an attempt is made to uncover the extent and causes of their control in the United States and elsewhere? Did he feel, with good editorial shrewdness, that here was an opportunity to win the attention and regard of the most influential group in New York and the nation? Or - and this seems within the probabilities - was he inclined simply to pass it over, until secretarial suggestions reached him for a Sunday editorial, or until some of the bondholders made their wishes known? This is not at all to impugn Mr. Brisbane's motives, but merely to indicate on what slender strings such an editorial may depend.
But what is more important - does Mr. Brisbane consider that, having disposed of the Sunday editorial, he is through with the Question, or that the Question itself is solved? That is the worst of daily editorializing: having come safely and inoffensively through with one editorial, the matter is at an end as far as that particular writer is concerned - that is, as a usual thing.
It is to be hoped that Mr. Brisbane is not through. He ought not to leave a big question without contributing something to it, and in his Sunday editorial he did not contribute anything. He even made mistakes that he ought to correct by further study. "What about the Phoenicians?" he asks. He should have looked that up while his mind was opened receptively toward the subject, and he would not have made so miserable a blunder as to connect them so closely with the Jews. He would never find a Jew doing that. It is permissible, however, in Jewish propaganda intended for Gentile consumption. The Phoenicians themselves certainly never thought they were connected in any way with the Jews, and the Jews were equally without light on the subject. If in nothing else, they differed in their attitude toward the sea. The Phoenicians not only built boats but manned them; the Jew would rather risk his investment in a boat than himself. In everything the difference between the two peoples were deep and distinct. Mr. Brisbane should have turned up the Jewish Encyclopedia at that point in his dictation. It is to be hoped he will resume his study and when he has found something that is not printed in "simply written" Jewish books will give the world the benefit of it. It is hardly like the question of the rotundity of the earth; this Question is not settled and it will be discussed.
Mr. Brisbane is in a position to pursue some investigations of his own on this subject. He has a large staff, and it is presumed that some of its members are Gentiles of unbiased minds; he has a world-wide organization; since his own modification of speech and views following upon his adventure in the money-making world, he has a "look-in" upon certain groups of men and certain tendencies of power - why does he not take the Question as a world problem and go after the facts and the solution?
It is a task worthy of any newspaper organization. It will assist America to make the contribution that she must make if this Question is ever to be turned from the bugbear it has been through all the centuries. All the talk on earth about "loving our fellow men" will not serve in lieu of an investigation, because it is asking men to love those who are rapidly and insidiously gaining the mastery of them. "What's wrong with the Jew?" is the first question, and then, "What's wrong with the Gentile to make it possible?"
As in the case of every Gentile writer who appears as the Jew's good-natured defender, Mr. Brisbane is compelled to state a number of facts that comprise a part of the very Question whose existence is denied.
"Every other successful name you see a great city is a Jewish name," says Brisbane. In his own city the ration is even higher than that.
"Jews numbering less than one per cent of the earth's population possess by conquest, enterprise, industry, and intelligence 50 per cent of the world's commercial success," says Mr. Brisbane.
Does it mean anything to Mr. Brisbane: Has he ever though how it will all turn out? Is he willing to absolve that "success" from every quality that humanity has a right to challenge? Is he entirely satisfied with the way that "success" is used where it is supreme? Would he be willing to undertake to prove that it is due to those commendable qualities he has named and nothing less commendable? Speaking of the Jew-financed Harriman railroad campaign, is Mr. Brisbane ready to write his endorsement upon that? Did he ever hear of Jewish money backing railroads that were built for railroad purposes and nothing else?
It would be very easy to suggest to Mr. Brisbane, as editor, a series of articles that would be most enlightening, both to himself and his readers, if he would only put unbiased men at work gathering the facts for them
One of the articles might be entitled "The Jews at the Peace Conference." His men should be instructed to learn who were the most prominent figures at the Peace Conference; who came and went most constantly and most busily; who were given freest access to the most important persons and chambers; which race provided the bulk of the private secretaries to the important personages there; which race provided most of the sentinels through whom engagements had to be made with men of note; which race went furthest in the endeavor to turn the whole proceeding into a festival rout by dances and lavish entertainment; which civilians of prominence oftenest dined the leading conferees in private session.
If Mr. Brisbane, with the genius for reporting that his organization deservedly has, will turn his men loose on that assignment, and then print what they bring him, he will have a story that will make a mark even in his remarkable career as an editor.
He might even run a second story on the Peace Conference, entitled, "Which Program Won at the Peace Conference?" He might instruct his men to inquire as to the business that brought the Jews in such quality and quantity to Paris, and how it was put through. Particularly should they inquire whether any jot or tittle of the Jews' world program was refused or modified by the Peace Conference. It should also be carefully inquired whether, after getting what they went after, they did not ask for still more and get that, too, even though it constituted a discrimination against the rest of the world. Mr. Brisbane would doubtless be surprised to learn that of all the programs submitted to that Conference, not excepting the great program on which humanity hung so many pathetic hopes, the only program to go through was the Jews' program. And yet he could learn just that if he inquired. The question is, having obtained that information, what would Mr. Brisbane do with it?
There are any number of lines of investigation Mr. Brisbane might enter, and in any one of them his knowledge of his country and of its relation to this particular Question would be greatly enlarged.
Does Mr. Brisbane know who owns Alaska? He may have been under the impression, in common with the rest of us until we learned better, that it was owned by the United States. No, it is owned by the same people who are coming rapidly to own the United States.
Is Mr. Brisbane, from the vantage point afforded by his position in national journalism, even dimly aware that there are elements in our industrial unrest that neither "capital" nor "labor" accurately define? Has he ever caught a glimpse of another power that is neither "labor": nor "capital" in the productive sense, whose purpose and interest it is to keep labor and capital as far apart as possible, now by provoking labor, now by provoking capital? In his study of the industrial situation and its perfectly baffling mystery, Mr. Brisbane must have caught a flash of something behind the backmost scene. It would be good journalistic enterprise to find out what it is.
Has Mr. Brisbane ever printed the name of the men who control the sugar supply of the United States - does he know them - would he like to know them?
Has he ever looked into the woolen situation in this country, from the change of ownership in cotton lands, and the deliberate sabotage of cotton production by banking threats, right on through to the change in the price of cloth and clothing? And has he ever noted the names of the men he found on that piece of investigation? Would he like to know how it is done, and who does it? Mr. Brisbane could find all these things and give them to the public by using his efficient staff of investigators and writers on this Question.
Whether Mr. Brisbane would feel free to do this, he himself best knows. There may be reasons why he would not, private reasons, prudential reasons.
However, that may be, there are no reasons why he should not make a complete study of the Question - a real study, not a superficial glance at it with an eye to its "news value" - and arrive at his own considered conclusion. There would be no intolerance about that.
As it is now, Mr. Brisbane is not qualified to take a stand on either side of the Question; he simply brushes it aside as troublesome, as the old planters used brush aside the anti-slavery moralists; and for that reason the recent defense of the Jew is not a defense at all. It is more like a bid for favor.
Mr. Brisbane's chief aversion, apparently, is toward what he calls race prejudice and race hatred. Of course, if any man should fear that the study of an economic situation would plunge him into these serious aberrations of mind, he should be advised to avoid that line of study. There is something wrong either with the investigation or with the investigator when prejudice and hatred are the result. It is a mighty poor excuse, however, for an intelligent man to put forward either on his own behalf or on behalf of those whose minds he has had the privilege of molding over a course of years.
Prejudice and hatred are the very conditions that a scientific study of the Jewish Question will forestall and prevent. We prejudge what we do not know, and we hate what we do not understand; the study of the Jewish Question will bring knowledge and insight, and not to the Gentile only, but also to the Jew. The Jew needs this as much, even more than the Gentile. For if the Jew can be made to see, understand, and deal with certain matters, then a large part of the Question vanishes in the solution of ideal common sense. Awaking the Gentile to the facts about the Jew is only part of the work; awaking the Jew to the facts about the Question is an indispensable part. The big initial victory to be achieved is to transform Gentiles from being mere attackers and to transform Jews from being mere defenders, both of them special pleaders for partisan views, and to turn them both into investigators. The investigation will show both Gentile and Jew at fault, and the road will then be clear for wisdom to work out a result, if there should perchance be that much wisdom left in the race.
There is a serious snare in all this plea for tolerance. Tolerance is first a tolerance of the truth. Tolerance is urged today for the sake of suppression. There can be no tolerance until there is first a full understanding of what is tolerated. Ignorance, suppression, silence, collusion - those are not tolerance. The Jew never has been really tolerated in the higher sense because he has never been understood. Mr. Brisbane does not assist the understanding of this people by reading a "simply written" book and flinging a few Jewish names about in a sea of type. He owes it to his own mind to get into the Question, whether he makes newspaper use of his discoveries or not.
As to the newspaper angle, it is impossible to report the world even superficially without coming everywhere against the fact of the Jews, and the Press gets around that fact by referring to them as Russians, Letts, Germans, and Englishmen. This mask of names is one of the most confusing elements in the whole problem. Names that actually name, statements that actually define are needed for the clarification of the world's mind.
Mr. Brisbane should study this question for the light such a study would throw on other matters with which he is concerned. It would be help to that study if from time to time he would publish some of his findings, because such publication would put him in touch with a phase of Judaism that mere complimentary editorials could not. No doubt Mr. Brisbane has been deluged by communications that praise him for what he has written; the real eye-opener would come if he could get several bushels of the other kind. Nothing that has ever come to him could compare with what would come to him if he should publish even one of the facts he could discover by an independent investigation.
Having written about the Jews, Mr. Brisbane will probably have a readier eye henceforth for other men's pronouncements on the same subject. In his casual reading he will find more references to the Jew than he has ever noticed before. Some of them will probably appear in isolated sentences and paragraphs of his own papers. Sooner or later, every competent investigator and every honest writer strikes a trail that leads toward Jewish power in the world. THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT is only doing with system and detail what other publications have done or are doing piecemeal
There is a real fear of the Jew upon the publicity sources of the United States - a fear that is felt and that ought to be analyzed. Unless it is a very great mistake, Mr. Brisbane himself has felt this fear, though it is quite possible he has not scrutinized it. It is not the fear of doing injustice to a race of people - all of us ought to have that honorable fear - it is the fear of doing anything at all with reference to them except unstintingly praising them. An independent investigation would convince Mr. Brisbane that a considerable modification of praise in favor of discriminate criticism is a course that is pressing upon American journalism.