“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.
April 13, 1961
Adolf Eichmann stands on trial.
The enormity of his crime baffles description. Before the river of human tears that he and his kind turned loose on humankind, one can but stand in wordless grief.
Our popular writers and commentators, who must produce readable copy every twenty-four hours, can find little to say against Eichmann that is not understatement.
They seem therefore to be playing up “doubts” about the “legality” of the trial.
Possibly the trial is not “legal”. America, however, is not qualified to offer criticism. In 1946 we and the other victorious Allies provided Israel with a precedent in the Nuremberg trials. They were perhaps not legal trials but executions of the vanquished by the victors.
Without existing courts or governments or laws, there may still be said to be the moral law that lies at the heart of the Universe and is understood in every human conscience.
Our legal codes are but fragments of this moral law, dimly understood and imperfectly codified. Courts arise as the need produces them.
We do do understand the people whose sympathy juices are stirred into action by publicity. The protest vehemently about the trial of a Caryl Chessman, or an Adolf Eichmann. We cannot see it.
The Jews have Adolf Eichmann. The human mind can devise no punishment for him which he has not merited. We assume they will conduct his execution as they are conducting his trial, with dignity and sorrow.
Let us, as Americans, ask the Israelis no questions regarding their handling of Adolf Eichmann. Let us rather inquire deeply of ourselves whether we are nourishing little Hitlers, and little Eichmanns of our own? Do we not have our Harrells and our McCarthys, our White Citizens Councils and our John Birch Societies?
Eichmann the man is nothing; Eichmann the symbol means that we should here and now commit ourselves to give everything, including our lives, to see that there is never an American Belsen, never an American Dachau!
April 20, 1961
A LAOSY TRICK!
The Russians are pouring rubles into the military effort of their Laotian rebels, while we support our own stooges there. (Didn't we drop three hundred million bucks on them just the other day?)
Despite this evidence of sincerity on both sides, the Laotians themselves have demonstrated an alarming tendency to have a cup of rice wine together and then send out news releases describing how they “slaughtered” each other.
In the midst of what should have been, considering the cost, a major military effort, the soldiers on both sides stacked their arms and took up WATER PISTOLS to celebrate the Laotian New Year! Military trucks (courtesy of Washington and Moscow) roared through the streets carrying tanks of water to refill everybody's guns, while the soldiers happily splashed bucketsful on the populace, admonishing them to “Keep Cool!”
What harm this may have done to the military schedule prepared in Moscow, and that from the Pentagon, they happy Laotians do not seem to care.
When their masters from East and West are paying for a real carnage, the carefree Laotians should in good faith be expected at least to produce a few corpses.
What, indeed, would become of your world if all the cannon fodder were to behave in this irresponsible fashion?
What if this madness spread to our leaders?
The consequences are perfectly dreadful to imagine. Can you see Mr. Gromyko squirting Adlai Stevenson in the eye with a water pistol? What if Jack Kennedy invited Kruschev to the White House, and propped a bucket of water over the door as he came in?
No, the Laotians had better get to work killing each other in earnest, before they spoil everything!