1943 November 18

Liberal, Racial Minority, and Labor Groups Urge Post Office Ban on Hate Mail


Liberal, racial minority, and labor groups on this day urged the Post Office to ban racially discriminatory literature or pictures from the mail. The demand was made in hearings before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Post Office and Post Roads. Two members of the House introduced a resolution supporting a ban

Postmaster General Frank Walker continued to vigorously oppose any restrictions that would “violate the principle of free speech.”

Lewis Hines, legislative director of the American Federation of Labor, supported the resolution, arguing that “villification against racial and religious groups” had “victimized” labor unions for years. Michael Williams, editor of the Commonweal magazine, argued that racist materials were a greater threat than “bombs and weapons.”

The episode was one chapter in a long-running American controversy over hate speech, in which on many occasions liberals, leftists and civil rights groups sought to ban speech, demonstrations, or literature offensive to racial or religious groups.

Learn more about hate speech: Samuel Walker, Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy (1994)

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