News & Politics

Ed Koch Red-Baited at an Anti-War Rally, Says Jack Newfield

by

Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
January 13, 1972, Vol. XVII, No. 2

My Back Pages
By Jack Newfield

PAGE ONE. Congressman Ed Koch is misleading the readers of The Voice.

Koch and a close friend of his (Larry Maxwell) have published letters in The Voice denying that Koch “red-baited” at an anti-war rally at Hunter College in November 1969. Koch claimed (and Maxwell repeated) that all he did was insult some people who were heckling him and waving Viet Cong flags.

But that is not the issue. At the rally on November 13 Koch said in public he would not support, or participate in, the anti-war protest of November 15, 1969, “because there are communists leading the march.” This is what I consider red-baiting, especially since the march was actually moderate, non-violent, attended by 250,000 citizens, and addressed by Senator McGovern, Senator Goodell, Adam Walinsky, Al Lowenstein, and Howard Samuels.

And there are many witnesses to Koch’s red-baiting. One is New York Post reporter Jay Levin, who covered the Hunter meeting. Levin told me this week: “Koch said at the meeting that the leaders of the march were communists, and that he would never march behind communists.” (The main organizers actually were pacifist Dave Dellinger, Cora Weiss, and liberal Sam Brown of the Moratorium.)

The November 14, 1969, New York Post contains Levin’s story about the meeting. The story says: “Representative Koch was called a ‘Joe McCarthy in disguise’ and a ‘red-baiter’ when he said he would not march on Washington tomorrow because there were communists among the organizers of the demonstration.”

Jerry Kretchmer, the city’s Environmental Protection Administrator, spoke at the rally immediately after Koch. He said this week: “Koch clearly red-baited. He was awful. I began my remarks by saying I disagreed with what Ed had said. Koch said he would not go to Washington because there were communists on the Peace Parade Committee.”

A letter from another witness, Mike O’Neill, can be found in this week’s letters column in The Voice.

I regret having to get into this public dispute with Koch. I have supported him in every one of his previous elections. I tried to write my original piece about him with respect and affection. But I cannot let him get away with trying to deceive the readers of The Voice.

PAGE TWO. Although I did not see it quoted in any of the New York papers, John Lindsay made the dumbest statement of the presidential season two weeks ago in Miami.

According to the December 29 Baltimore Sun, Lindsay said in response to a question about normalizing relations with Cuba: “There is no evidence Cuba cares to normalize relations with the U.S. Instead, it has been fomenting revolution in the hemisphere. I don’t think the question of normalization can be answered until there is some sign that Cuba is ready to re-join the family of nations.” (Lindsay aides later admitted he actually said it.)

This sort of nonsense may win a few votes from Cuban exiles in Miami, but when it gets circulated to the students in Madison, Wisconsin, I think it should cost Lindsay many more votes.

PAGE THREE. A year ago there was a big hotel press conference by John Lindsay, Nelson Rockefeller, and Harry Van Arsdale to announce the “New York Plan” that would end discrimination against blacks and Puerto Ricans in the building trades unions. Lindsay said the plan was the best in the nation.

A few months later, when Ron Rosenbaum wrote a brilliant piece in The Voice exposing the plan as a fraud, the Lindsay aides shouted foul and wrote angry letters.

Now some facts are available. After one year, exactly 119 black and Puerto Rican trainees have been hired under the New York Plan, many fewer than under the formula worked out in Chicago between Mayor Daley and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

More: