Courtesy Reuters

Radio, Censorship and Neutrality

THIS is a new kind of war, and every day that fact is being driven home. It is a new kind of war not merely for those who wage it, but for the neutrals who watch it. Science and invention have seen to it that no nation, and no stratum of society, is preserved, either from its horrors or from its threats and alarms. Those who experienced the first World War remember how, for Americans, it was still possible to "get away from it all" by staying at home and not reading the papers. Today, thanks to the radio, we cannot do even that. We boast over twenty-five million "radio homes" and millions of radio-equipped cars. The mass of the people is conditioned to radio -- relies on it for useful information, entertainment and the "solace of sweet sounds." And even those strong-minded individualists who seek isolation within themselves are roused from their reveries by the radio next door, in the taxi, or in the adjoining car awaiting the green light. We are living, as H. G. Wells predicted, "with the voice of the stranger always in our ear."

In 1914 we were adjured by President Wilson to be neutral in thought as well as in acts. Today our President, at the very outset, admitted that he could not ask that every American remain neutral in thought. Thoughts are the mainsprings of our acts; and thoughts, expressed in words, are beating in upon us -- no longer in cold print alone, but in the passionate vibrations of the human voice. We can no longer isolate ourselves either from news or propaganda. We are exposed to the flood of words, against our wills and regardless of our capacities to discriminate. In the face of that condition, how can we safeguard our neutrality, without infringing on our liberties, without retreating from our democratic way of life?

Once again the dictatorships have the advantage over democracy. They, who have sharpened the new tool of propaganda,

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