Thursday, June 04, 2015

'Too nice a regard for civil laws'

If you're interested in how securitizing arguments play out in modern or interactive media, you find yourself eventually circling back to how they might have looked in the grand old days of existential crisis and top-down media. So rather than clicking through to whatever sponsored content is being served along with the day's heirloom paranoia at WND, let's take a ride down memory lane with the World's Greatest Newspaper, November 1949:

The defense department has plans for a military dictatorship if war should come with a devastating atomic attack on the national capital.

One of the nation's outstanding military leaders told The Tribune that the military will take over under disaster plans if civil government is blasted.

In theory, the military would take over the government until the emergency passed and civilian government could be re√ęstablished.*

Theory's fine, Outstanding Military Leader, but what would happen in practice?

The military leader acknowledged that the military might be loathe to surrender control in the event of war because the military can run war efficiently and economically if it is not hampered by too nice a regard for civil laws.

Because a single Nagasaki-sized bomb "would finish Washington as a useful seat of government," the key here is dispersion:

Suggestions have been advanced that departments be separated around Washington a distance of at least 50 miles, with each agency at least two miles from a neighboring agency.

This would limit atomic bomb destruction to one agency for each bomb and might reduce the attractiveness of Washington as a target to an enemy. It has been suggested that with dispersal the enemy might by-pass Washington for more attractive targets.

As long as we have the past on the line here, let's ask it about our own crisis. Why won't the Kenyan usurper protect America from the looming scourge of EMP?

An attempt at dispersal would necessitate a public works program which would far surpass the New Deal's PWA. Such a program would be costly.

It is recognized that any attempt to undertake such a program would bring charges that the administration was playing upon fears of atomic warfare to embark upon a public works spending program.

And we all know what that means! If we don't, there's always the story next door to help set the context. Here's an above-the-fold view, if you're nostalgic for the days when the newsstand was a site of ideological competition:

Here's the lede under "A socialist U.S. within 10 years seen by Jenner":

MANILA, P.I., Nov. 27 -- "Unless something unforeseen and unpredictable happens, something I cannot foresee now, America will go socialist in 10 years," Sen. Jenner [R-Ind.] told The Chicago Tribune today at a luncheon given for Jenner and three other United States senators by Ambassador Myron M. Cowan. 

... "We may as well go communist," Jenner said. "There is no difference."

Anything else look familiar?

"We are moving toward a controled economy and controled state power." Jenner said. "The tendency cannot be stopped now without a miracle. We are beset by gangs." 

... "We have 5,000,000 unemployed, 10,000,000 partly employed, and 50,000,000 living uncertainly. We have a 258 billion dollar debt, greater than the national debt of all the other nations combined. The idea that we are the richest nation in the world is fallacious. We are nearing the point where we shall be broke."

In case the cartoon's too small to read: The ectoplasmic turkey, labeled "Ghost of American Prosperity," is saying "Ha! Ha! Et too much, eh?" to an ailing donkey whose abdomen is apparently giving off rays that read "Truman Depression."

The "Plan Dictator" hed stuck in my mind from one of A.J. Liebling's wonderful essays about Col. McCormick's Tribune, so let's give the master the last word here:

The Tribune reader issues from his door walking on the balls of his feet, muscles tense, expecting attacks by sex-mad footpads at the next street corner, forewarned against the smooth talk of strangers with a British accent, and prepared to dive behind the first convenient barrier at the sound of a guided missile approaching -- any minute now -- from the direction of northern Siberia.

* Yes, the paper of "altho" and "controled" uses the heavy metal spelling of "re√ęstablish."

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Blogger lex said...

This one really is evergreen, isn't it? I still recall being informed by my junior high social studies teacher in 1978 to expect Prime Minister Trudeau to suspend Parliament under the War Measures Act by 1980.

12:46 AM, June 11, 2015  

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