Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(8 December 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 49, 8 December 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Last July butter and pork were removed from the list of foods available to food stamp customers. Just before election – FOR NO MYSTERIOUS REASON – these products Were restored to the food stamp list. However, that removal last July was the handwriting on the wall.

For Dr. Thomas Parran, surgeon general of the United States Public Health Service, now come out with a threatening forecast. He predicts that in another few months there may not be enough “surplus food” to permit the continuance of the food stamp plan.

You can guess from this where food prices will be in a few months from now – and also what will happen to the poor people on relief.

Undoubtedly the food stamp system is far from satisfactory to these people. It permits them to buy only CERTAIN KINDS OF FOODS, and does not begin to cover all their food requirements – to say nothing of OTHER NECESSITIES. Furthermore, it has segregated relief clients into a human island of stamp users removed from the body of cash-using consumers. However, the stamp plan, with all its faults, does allow the poor mother to provide her family with more edibles than she could afford on her relief pittance alone.

Now this help will be taken away from her – because of the war.

Dr. Parran states further that the school lunch program, which now gives a small measure of needed nourishment to children suffering from malnutrition, is also in danger. Thus the poorest of the poor will be made still poorer.

And the children will suffer most – BECAUSE OF THE WAR.

The war has created a market for food outside of this country – at a fancy profit. The hungry mouths at home must thereafter remain hungry – according to the standards of the profit system.

But why wait until Dr. Parran’s predictions come true and actual want is here? Cash relief allowances must be increased. Now is the time to make the demand.

And the women must be in the forefront of this fight or they and their families will be trodden upon by the ruthless war profiteers.

The Most Hopeless Girls in the World

Peter Kihss, on the staff of the New York World-Telegram, writing about the spread of delinquency among girls in New York City, has the following to say:

“Through the portals of the Women’s House of Detention pass some of the most hopeless girls in the world – and through them are passing more and more young girls who have taken to drink. The doctors and the sociologists today blamed the WAR for that increase in alcoholism among the young women penal offenders.”

You can be sure that the official lists of war casualties will not contain the names of these victims of war conditions.

Do You Remember the Blurbs: “The Army Builds Men ...?”

More than 60,000 of the first million draftees were rejected by the draft boards because they were infected with venereal disease. The army wants no “damaged goods.” Only the purest are good enough to enter the sanctified services “defending American democracy.”

But beyond those portals for the pure, there is an awful stink, which has been stirred up for the public to smell by the authors of a book called No. 1 Saboteur of Our Defense. Plain Words About Venereal Disease.

Drs. Parran and Vonderlehr, of the United States Public Health Service, reveal in their book that of the more than a million draftees who entered the army as first-class merchandise, a great many have become “seconds” and “as is.” More than eight out of every thousand have acquired syphilis. More than forty out of every thousand have contracted gonorrhea.

Today there are at least as many NEW victims of venereal disease in the army as were originally rejected.

Why Not Face This Problem in a Frank and Honest Way?

It will afford small solace to the mothers, wives and sweethearts of these men to know that by an act of Congress passed last July, the Secretary of War has full authority to designate areas to be cleared of prostitutes and then employ the services of the FBI to get this done.

For this act is meaningless and has not been invoked by the army command – which understands only too well that to be “ENTERTAINED” by prostitutes is the ugly but natural by-product of the abnormal, exiled life of the soldier.

But the mothers, wives and sweethearts of these unlucky men have the right to demand why no protection is provided their men. Why is there no inspection of the “entertainers” – why no prophylactic treatment for the men? Why this criminal negligence on the part of the army command?


Don’t the People Themselves Count?

Maddening, and offensive to all honest instincts, is the way in which this scandalous contamination of the healthiest young men of the country has been commented upon in the capitalist press. Drs. Parran and Vonderlehr themselves entitled their book: No. 1 Saboteur of Our Defense. That indicates the color of the comment. Everything is regarded from the point of view of the war interests of American imperialism. THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE ITSELF IS NOT WEIGHED IN THE BALANCE AT ALL.

Nor have pro-war commentators expressed any concern over the human problem presented by the vast army of prostitutes following the armed forces. And understandably so!

For these living women – better than volumes of dead statistics – indict the capitalist system. THEY PROVE THAT ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES SIMPLY DO NOT EXIST FOR LARGE SECTIONS OF THE POPULATION.

By the fortunes of war, the army of prostitutes – THE LOWEST OF THE EXPLOITED – march with the boys drafted to fight for the greater power of the imperialist system of exploitation.

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 26 August 2014