Story of An American
by Howard Fast
Someday a later historian – a later Howard Fast – will write the entire exciting story of Vito Marcantonio. It will be a volume to fill this book jacket and more. It will be an exciting story of a champion of the people, a story to match "Citizen Tom Paine", "Freedom Road" and "The American".
But the story of Vito Marcantonio – fighter for freedom – is not near its end. "Marc" has only begun to fight. He must be returned to Congress to carry on as a leader in man's age-long struggle for freedom.
HERE AND NOW, Howard Fast tells you why we must return Vito Marcantonio to Congress. . .
The simple fact of it is that I want to live, and I want my children to live too – not in a prison camp, not in a fascist hell-hole, but in a free America. And because the single factor, the one individual who counts more for freedom in our government today than any other man is a Congressman from New York, Vito Marcantonio by name, I went to him and asked him whether there was not something I could write or say that would help return him to Congress.
It was not the first time I had met him. For a good many years now, I have known Vito Marcantonio; and for a good many years before I knew him personally, I watched his career in Congress, listened to his speeches, and felt a deep pride in the fact that there was with us at least one fighting Congressman, unafraid, and in the full tradition of all the good things that are our heritage.
In common with millions of other Americans, I slept better because Marcantonio was in Congress. In common with millions of other Americans, I felt confident that so long as Marcantonio could raise his voice in the House of Representatives, the average American man and woman would be more secure in their personal liberties.
And in common with millions of my fellow countrymen, I felt that the worker would never lack an advocate, a defender so long as Vito Marcantonio could speak out in Congress.
You might say – and with some justice that is a very tall order for one man to fill. And especially a small man, an unassuming man, a quiet man who belies the fierce anger of which he is capable.
But ask those in Congress who have felt his wrath. Ask Rankin, that spearhead of native fascism, how it feels to be lashed and flayed by this unassuming representative from New York. Ask Rankin how he felt when Marc hurled at him these words:
"May I remind the gentleman from Mississippi that in the Declaration of Independence it was said that all men are created equal. When they said that all men are created equal, they did not say, all men are created equal except Negroes. They did not say all men are created equal except Jews. They did not say all men are created equal except Catholics. They placed no exception in that Declaration of Independence."
Marcantonio places no exceptions in his fight for freedom. He fights for all of the people, and he has carried on this fight for them a full decade and more. And in the fight for the people, for the rights of the people, for the freedom of the people, he has grown to the greatest stature of any representative of our times. It is from the people that his strength comes.
So when I came to Marc and told him that I would like to write something about him and asked him what he thought was the single, most; burning issue of the day, he answered, naturally enough:
"The fight for peace!"
That is his major fight. That will be his major fight for the next two years – and he is an old hand at fighting for the men and women he represents.
As I said, it is no new thing to have Marc in there fighting for the people. He led the fight on the poll tax; he led the fight against lynching; he led the fight to keep down the cost of living; he led the fight for labor and against the Case Bill and the anti-labor Truman Bill – bills that would have destroyed organised labor – and one could go on and on, issue after issue where Vito Marcantonio stood on the floor of the House, fighting for the people and for the people's issues.
He knows how to fight, and that's a good thing – because he's in for the greatest fight of his life. The fight to keep the peace. The fight to prevent another world war, a war so terrible that human imagination cannot conceive it, a war that would be carried on by atomic bombs and dreadful disease germs, a war in which – in all probabilities – you and I and everyone dear to us would perish.
That's Marc's job for the next two years. In so many words, his job is to see that you and – and our children too – remain alive.
I know of no one else who could do that job, no one else but Vito Marcantonio. I know of no one in our government who fights as well, as bravely, as constantly. We cannot afford to lose him; if we do not return him to Congress, then God help us.
Many years ago, a great American, whose name was Altgeld, spoke in Cooper Union in New York City. As he entered the hall, the thousands of people there assembled began to chant:
"We love you for the enemies you have made! We love you for the enemies you have made! We love you for the enemies you have made!"
The trusts, the monopolies, the imperialists, the corrupt newspapers of the time – these were Altgeld's enemies, even as they are Vito Marcantonio's enemies; and there are a million Americans today who could say, simply and clearly, to Vito Marcantonio:
"We love you for the enemies you have made."
For there is no better assessment of Marc than to catalogue his enemies. Rankin and Bilbo and all of their ilk, they are his enemies. Hearst and McCormick and Patterson, the lords of the American press, fear him and hate him, and because they fear him so their rotten newspapers pour out lies against him. Ford and Dupont and Tom Girdler fear him and hate him, and they too are his enemies. The Ku Klux Klan and the Christian Front – they are Marc's enemies, and they fear him and hate him because he stands for democracy and the real essence of Christianity, the brotherhood of man.
Every fascist, every anti-Catholic, every anti-Semite, every rotten racist and hate monger who infests this land of ours fears Vito Marcantonio – and they too are his enemies.
But the people love him and respect him – because he has not failed them.
Democratic Party and
American Labor Party Candidate
Pull the lever over the name of
and leave it down!
on Election Day, Tuesday, November 5, 1946
Polls open from 6:00 A.M. to 7:30 P.M.
he fights for all the people
Published and distributed by
New York Citizens Political Action Committee, Hotel Forrest, 224 W. 49 St., New York