This seemed a plain crazy proposition; but Guffey explained it as a matter of politics. If they went too far, these fellows would go out and capture the votes from them, and maybe take away the government from them, and where would they be then? Peter had never paid any attention to politics before this, but both he and Gladys realized after this lecture that they must broaden their view-point. It was not enough to put the Reds in jail and crack their skulls, you had to keep public sympathy for what you were doing, you had to make the public understand that it was necessary, you had to carry on what was called “propaganda,” to keep the public aware of the odiousness of these cattle, and the desperate nature of their purposes.
The man who perceived that most clearly was the Attorney-General of the country, and Guffey in his lecture pointed out the double nature of his activities. Not merely was the Attorney-General breaking up the Communist and the Communist Labor parties and sending their members to jail; he was using the funds of his office to send out an endless stream of propaganda, to keep the country frightened about these Red plots. Right now he had men in American City working over the data which Guffey had collected, and every week or two he would make a speech somewhere, or would issue a statement to the newspapers, telling of new bomb plots and new conspiracies to overthrow the government. And how clever he was about it! He would get the pictures of the very worst-looking of the Reds, pictures taken after they had been kept in jail for weeks without a shave, and with the third degree to spoil their tempers; and these pictures would be spread on a sheet with the caption: “Men like these would Rule you.” This would be sent to ten thousand country newspapers all over the nation, and ninety-nine hundred would publish it, and ninety-nine million Americans would want to murder the Reds next morning. So successful had this plan proven that the Attorney-General was expecting to be nominated for President by means of it, and all the agencies of his department were working to that end.
The same thing was being done by all the other agencies of big business all over the country. The “Improve America League” of American City was publishing full-page advertisements in the “Times,” and the “Home and Fireside Association” of Eldorado was doing the same thing in the Eldorado “Times,” and the “Patriot’s Defense Legion” was doing the same thing in the Flagland “Banner.” They were investigating the records of all political candidates, and if any of them showed the faintest tinge of pink, Guffey’s office would set to work to rake up their records and get up scandals on them, and the business men would contribute a big campaign fund, and these candidates would be snowed under at the polls. That was the kind of work they were doing, and all Guffey’s operatives must bear in mind the importance of it, and must never take any step that would hamper this political campaign, this propaganda on behalf of law and order.