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The_War_of_Lies_and_Laughs

16 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST February a, 1940 YEE WON CD1? YI'300 21:872 270.RIF REZ11093 26-1(7IOUR-Z-IDAY WORD EIETTLE TE3 y J. Co PURR:ZS UT in Iowa these days, a certain loyal Amer- ican of German extraction is burning up. The reason is that the short-wave end of his radio— or, still worse, a friend's radio—often brings in a wheedling voice from Germany., addressing him as "dear Harry," reminding him unctuously of what pals they used to be out there where the tall corn grows, and then proceeding to fill him full of comradely German propaganda. The speaker calls himself Fred Kaltenbach—the name of an Iowa German-American whom Harry once actually did know. He says he is broadcasting instead of writing, because the British intercept Germans' foreign mail. Some pumpkins in the Berlin market recently reminded him of pumpkitt pie back in good old Iowa. How are all the folks and how is our old schoolteacher? He calls the teacher by name. German housewives don't make pumpkin pie, Harry, but they get swell eating out of pumpkins other ways. Don't fall for any British propaganda, Harry. It's all "the bunko," cooked up by that liar, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Sea Bottom, ha-ha-ha. In spite of war, German papas and mammas still take the kiddies to the zoo on Sundays to see the funny monkeys—Germans and Americans are just alike in their fondness for animals. This war has nothing to do with America, Harry. You have no reason to pull chestnuts out of the fire for the same nations that made such suckers of you last time. Wasn't there something about an unpaid war debt? Since there isn't a solitary thing Harry can do to shut his pal up, he just goes right on burning—a grotesque casualty in the war of radio waves. So far as action is concerned, the war of weapons has laid an egg, up to this writing. But not the war of words. This is a Donner-und-Blitzen Krieg that goes on without recess, twenty-four hours a day. The mouthpieces of propaganda never have a furlough. All belligerents and many neutrals are mixing valiantly in the scramble of name-calling, word-weaseling, news-angling, special-pleading, prejudice-promoting, air-polluting, ground and lofty lying and covering-up that girdles the abashed globe on radio waves in some fifteen or sixteen languages. The Tongue is Mightier Than the Sword THE Athenia touched off the first official skirmish between air-wave sharpshooters. Whatever the facts of the sinking, one side or the other was obviously lying. Shortly before this was written, the bitter radio argument over whether it was victory or defeat that made the Graf Spee hole up in Montevideo showed that the same somebodies were still lying like Isolated in a Long Island shack to escape New York City's machine.made interference, Carl Schutzman keeps his shirt-wave vigil —to keep up with the progress of the war of words. troopers. In both cases, there is good reason to think that neither side was anywhere near the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Neither monopolizes useful fictions or short- wave frequencies to sell them on. Either wwiil l occasionally hand out something true. But when a big-time propaganda device like war-time radio tells the truth, it is because that particular truth suits the national book better than a lie, not at all because it can afford truth for its own sake. In this battle of verbal ordnance, each nation is simultaneously gun and target, trying to dish out as good as it gets, spraying propaganda in oblique as well as direct fire. Lots of the oblique stuff is fired at us across the Atlantic. No compliment to the national unity either, for most of it is based on the hope that our various large groups of hyphenated citizens are worth building up as psychological allies for the old country in the struggle to influence the United States' future role in the war. England and France, with no large or cohesive groups to exploit here, work just as hard to keep building up our already preponderant pro-Ally and anti-German senti- Jeated hr at a relay station, Elmer Data:, ne tough the short.wave word warfare frows analyst . ,a abroad. ment. The honor isn't even exclusive. The belligerents, plus some neutrals, are just as attentive to the Boer population of South Africa, the Arabs of the Near East, the small businessmen of South America, Ynesiatnuinselaintdin7ith and anybody in the remotest Polynesian a short-wave s sieemtt sanbdIoetwi.nsomauagnsheyn.eonu.hess rtt7nyetr4Ds propagandists get- offense for a these hostile to alien broadcasts—four years in German to listen jail was a sentence reeceennttllyy meted out. Whereas the National Broadcasting Company used to get as high as 600 fan letter 's a month from German listeners to


The_War_of_Lies_and_Laughs
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