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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(28 October 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 29, 28 October 1940, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Spread over a half page in the New York Times the other morning was an advertisement of a collection of natural mink coats – “very Saks Fifth Avenue – beautifully worked – silky soft – sorrel shining – Remember too that each takes the place of a whole wardrobe of coats – you may slip contentedly and assuredly into one – for any daytime occasion – for any evening occasion – simple elegance – marked individual chic – AND ONLY $1,650.”

A quarter of the page contained a picture of a glamorous debutante cuddling up in her natural mink.

Opposite me in the subway sat a shabby woman, without hat or gloves, clutching a paper bundle and cuddling up in her seat, for her coat was nothing to cuddle up in. It was of some muddy hue, all color having long ago faded out of it – threadbare – buttons gone – buttonholes torn through – pinned at the throat with a safety pin.

And soft, sikly, natural mink coats – “AT ONLY $1650.00.”

Malcolm Macdonald, English boss politician who is Minister of Health, broadcasting from London the other night, vividly described a gripping scene in a subway during a heavy air raid:

“In one arch more brightly lit than others by the spot-lamp hanging from its ceiling, the group of people appeared like a company of actors on a stage raised above the slumberers below. Some standing, some crouching. some lying full length, they formed a circle around the central figure of a powerful young girl.

“She stood almost motionless, her head bowed, a coil of her hair fallen forward over her face, while, with strong sweeps of her arms, she conjured from a giant accordion a whole series of soldiers’ songs of the last World War.

“Her concentration was so absolute that it seemed as though nothing in the distraught world mattered but the gay, light music.”

What a shame that a young woman of such stoical character should be wasting her strength and talent! She plays soldiers’ songs of the last World War – songs created for the murderous purpose of putting men in a mood to go to useless destruction cheerfully. She plays them so that more people may bear useless destruction cheerfully in the present World War – which the last one was supposed to have made impossible.

There will come a day when such women will use their strength and talents to rally the people to fight for emancipation. They will sing revolutionary songs of the workers fighting for class freedom, They will then be easing the birth pains of a better world.

Mrs. Herbert Lehman, wife of the governor of New York State, talks like some Rip Van Winkel who has just awakened from a long sleep and doesn’t know what’s going on. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she expresses her faith in the future in these words:

“A people that is just beginning to create its own music, its own paintings, its own particular form of the drama, its own architecture, can’t possibly be losing its vitality. The young people I know are keenly aware of this and instead of giving up, because the physical frontiers of our country are exhausted, they are thinking how lucky they are to be living in an area which is bound to see intensive cultivation of our mental frontiers.”

Evidently Mrs. Lehman has not yet heard about the outstanding event of the day, namely, that the youth of the country is now subject to military conscription. She certainly was asleep when a certain General John F. O’Ryan, advocating conscription, declared: “The first thing that must be done is TO DESTROY ALL INITIATIVE.”

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Last updated: 21 July 2014