Speak Up America-Post-War Propaganda

vintage illustration policeman city 1940s

Vintage Ad 1948 Republic Steel

Patriotic advertisements abounded in the cold war, post-war years touting among other things, freedom of speech. In today’s heated campaign climate its worth taking a look a one such ad.

In this 1948 ad titled “Let him talk”, we are reminded how Americans are a tolerant people blessed with opportunity and freedoms as compared to the enslaved people of Soviet Union.

And who better to present the American Way than the Steel Industry.

Republic Steel the advertiser reminds us they became strong in a strong and free America. Republic can REMAIN strong only in an America that remains strong and free.

 “Let Him Talk”

vintage illustration policeman

The friendly cop on the beat talks directly to the reader in this vintage advertisement.

 “Get a load of him!” he begins, pointing to an image of a somewhat disheveled fellow railing on a soapbox

“In the ten years I’ve been patrolling this park, I’ve seen and heard all sots of crackpots. One guy said the only good food for people was…grass! Imagine me turning down a steak dinner for grass! “

Naturally in our us against them, cold war environment, there were the good hardworking patriotic proteins ( animal products) and bad lazy proletarian protein ( vegetables.

“And only last week” the cop continues “some wild eyed old coot was warning people that the world would pos-i-tive-ly come to an end today.”

“Now take that bird over there” Officer Joe says nodding to the apparent Socialist on the soapbox. “He’s telling everybody to quit work and let the government support them for the rest of their lives. Pretty soon everybody in the crowd’ll ask him where the governments going to get the money to do it…and the answer ought to be a honey.”

“Why listening to answers like that keeps me laughing hard enough to forget my feet are killing me!” chuckles the Officer.

Clearly Mitt Romney might share a chuckle with our patriotic Officer Joe, giggling at this 47 percenter who’s advocating an entitlement state.

But being a patriotic  American, our police officer suppresses his feelings and continues:

“Run ‘em in? Nah!…let ‘em have their say. This is one country where a guy can speak up without getting beat up for it.”

The Out of Towner

“Which reminds me of the foreign lad who stood on that same bench yesterday telling people how lucky they were to be living here in America.”

“Where he came from, there wasn’t any Free Speech.”

“He couldn’t go to the church he wanted. Couldn’t own property. Had his own business but they took that away and made him work in a slave camp.

“But in this country he picked out his own job…at the Republic Steel plant here in town…and he’s never been happier, helping to make steel for his adopted country.”

Of course that was when there were still jobs to be had and plants weren’t being shuttered.

“Matter of fact, he pointed right at me and told the crowd I was there to serve and protect them. In his country, he said everybody ducked when a cop showed up.

“Funny thing.” Officer Joe muses , “I didn’t mind him speaking about me. Me….part of Freedom!”

“Y’know, I listened to him so long, I was a good ten minutes late ringing in and the Sergeant gave me what for. But I’m glad I did listen to that foreigner. He’d brushed up my memory about a lot of things I’d been taking for granted.

“And me with 2 kids in the service!”


One comment

  1. Lee Wolfson

    There was once a time in America when you could vehemently disagree with the politics of your fellow citizen without questioning their patriotism. The phrase was “the loyal opposition”. The coming of the Red Scare in the 50’s helped make that obsolete.

    I like to tell people that my grandfather came to this country in 1905 escaping the anti-semetic progroms in the Ukraine. He was fifteen and had (according to the documents at Ellis Island)$5 in his pocket that he had borrowed from his brother. He was immediately in love with this country, although he had some real disagreements about the social and economic set-up. He started a business, which had prospered quite nicely by the 60’s, His three kids all went to college, just as all his grandchildren did.

    His patriotism embarrassed my brother and myself, particularly during the Vietnam War. The sweet part about all this is that he was a “Eugene V.Debs Socialist” his entire life. It did not make you less of an American to disagree with the distribution of wealth or the right to join a union.

    The ad you posted suggests to me that the “kook” in the park and the cop are both right, but that in the current atmosphere, the portrayal of the opposition is that of people “who hate America”. I will leave it up to others to comment on the ideological origins of this unfortunate view.


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