Since Wednesday, Dec. 7, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, I’ve been trying to get to the library to see what my father wrote about the bombing and/or the United State’s entry into World War II.
Here’s what he wrote in a column published in the New York Age Dec. 20, 1941:
“The war which has engulfed all Europe for the past two years and brought about the downfall of about five times as many nations, has come to these United States. At times it has been said to be a white man’s war, but more often it has been conceded to be a war which effects all peoples. The latter is especially true at this time.
“Japan, in its tri-partite alliance with Mr. Hitler and Il Duce, is the one to strike the blow; her two partners in crime join the fracas with expected precision. Mr. Hitler has designs on dominating the world in what he calls a ‘new order,’ which is the same old slavery humans have known down the ages dressed up in twentieth century clothes. Mr. Hitler includes all peoples of the world in his new order, and that includes Japan and Italy which, because of its military weakness and Mussolini’s gullibility, is already under Hitler’s heel. He includes the people of the U.S. because the ultra-freedom they enjoy would have psychological effect on his slaves in Europe. They would yearn for the same things.”
Ebenezer takes on fellow columnist George Schuyler, who apparently continued to view Hitler as little different from imperialist Britain. In the early years of the war, many other black journalists had urged America to not throw stones at Hitler while injustice marred its own glass house. Many changed their minds when U.S. Navy ships were attacked.
My father added:
“As most of us expected, the attack on the U. S. closed all ranks here. All the petty commanders, of political, isolationist, racial and other designs, have sheathed their personal swords and agreed that it is a combined fight, a fight to the finish, a victory finish for the U.S. and those who fight Hitlerism.
“All but our own Mr. Schuyler that is, Mr. Schuyler says Hitler must defeat Britain in order for Negroes of the world to better their lot. The Napoleon of Harlem’s Sugar Hill can’t see what difference it would make with life in the West Indies . . . if Hitler takes over the reigns(sic). Mr. Schuyler has never lived in the West Indies. Hitler ‘might be’ a savior but for the present he looks like a SERPENT.
“Millions of Negroes of the country, quick to forget the personal hurts in their inherent loyalty to the flag under which they live, have cast their lot with America’s fight against the totalitarian horde – those who have and those who have not, perhaps heard that Hitler sees them as half apes and that his creed towards them is one of chattel slavery; depriving them of even the modicum of democratic rights which they have gained through the passing years by blood, sweat and tears.
“In their fight on the side of those who fight the Axis, Negroes have a double fight on their hands. While doing military service, Negroes will have to continue their fight against the powers for equal rights – against segregation and discrimination in the Army and in the Navy and Air Force. In World War No. 1, Negro soldiers were confined in the main to labor battalions by the U.S. and Britain. Up to the present, both of these Navies confine Negroes to their messrooms.
“Negroes are never given to subversive activities. They will fight with those who have not been altogether kind to them Because it is not a DIFFERENT Government they want. What Negroes want is a BETTER Government.”