Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
Winter Soldiers image

WHO ARE THESE MEN and whom do they represent, and what forces are behind them, and how come they sit in the state legislature and make laws for you and me?

Let’s see.

There is Merwin K. Hart, enemy number one of democracy and education, presi­dent of the New York State Economic Council. Secretary Ickes three times publicly called him fascist. In the Congressional Record for January 22, 1940, Representative Hook describes Mr. Hart’s connection with Father Coughlin, with Fritz Kuhn, with Allen Zoll, with other notorious anti-Semites.

On February 22, 1939, there was a hearing on the budget of the State of New York. Hart and his followers in the New York State Economic Council came to Albany to force through a cut of 33 million dollars in the schools. Their slogan—“Axe the Tax.” One thousand union teachers came to Albany too. Their slogan— “Don’t Use the Axe on the Child.” When the teachers said that the American way—the way of democracy—means free instruction in the schools, Mr. Hart shouted: “Subversive!”

The teachers took the case for education to the people, through the radio, leaflets, meetings; made the people aware of the threat to the schools. The legislators were told off by their constituents. The budget was restored.

But the two sides lined up very clearly after this fight. On the one side stood the Teachers Unions as the first rank fighters for the schools. On the other side, Merwin K. Hart and the groups associated with him.

Anton Refregier