American Legion Leader Says “Reds” Forfeit Right of Free Speech
Frank Cross, Director of the American Legion’s “Americanism” program on this day charged the communists in America had forfeited their right of free speech. “Let them renounce their threats and slanderous attacks if they wish free speech,” he told an audience of 1,000 attendees at the annual meeting of the Interscholastic Press Association being held in Madison, Wisconsin. Cross also declared that if the ACLU wanted to be consistent in its defense of free speech the “blackmailer,” and should also defend “slanderers,” people who give instruction in crime and vice.
The American Legion, founded on November 10, 1919 by World War I veterans, became one of the most aggressive opponents of free speech for political radicals through the 1960s, after which its influence waned. For some of its anti-civil liberties actions, see April 17, 1927, October 2, 1932, and August 6, 1954.
Learn more about civil liberties in the 1920s: Paul L. Murphy, The Meaning of Freedom of Speech: First Amendment Freedoms from Wilson to FDR (1972)