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President Coolidge and the Jews
We've all heard of President Coolidge's greatest, and perhaps, only political virtue -- his economic acumen.
We've all heard about it, but few have seen it, and many wonder how the Coolidge economic legend came to be.
A demonstration of Coolidge's acumen has now come in a most unexpected manner. He has shown that he is so protective of Uncle Sam's pennies that he will endeavor to save even 66 cents.
This is how.
As soon as Clarence Chamberlin and Charles A. Levine landed in Germany, President Coolidge sent a cablegram to the American ambassador in Berlin, offering greetings in the name of the President and the people of the United States of America.
It is worth noting that the President's cable mentions only one name, that of Clarence Chamberlin. Two people flew from New York. Two people risked their lives. Two people demonstrated heroics, and two people broke a record that supercedes Lindbergh's.
Two flew, two arrived, Americans both, but the President of the United States only congratulated one, while the other was not deemed worthy of note. Not a single word, as if he wasn't even there, and the President of this land the President of OUR land, where every man is equal, didn't congratulate the man named Levine.
Let's say, for example, that Chamberlin's part in this was greater. But isn't Charles A. Levine the first passenger? Hasn't he also earned something -- and not just because he is the owner of the airplane, but because he demonstrated such great courage and sportsmanship?
In England they acknowledged him. In Italy they honored him. The British and Italians don't separate the name of Levine from that of Chamberlin. They see in Levine's achievement greater heroism than in Chamberlin's exactly because Levine is not a pilot, because he risked his life in the interest of showing the world that an airplane can also carry passengers, that a trans-Atlantic flight is not just a solo bravura trick, but something of practical use, too.
The whole world understands it, the whole world applauds Levine, because to the whole world he is a "representative hero," no less than Lindbergh or Chamberlin. The whole world, but not Washington, not President Coolidge or Mr. Kellogg or the various members of official America.
And it begs the question: would Roosevelt have handled it so, would Wilson have done such a thing? Would Alfred Smith have done better if he were President? We expect he would have! Men with Jewish names were regularly honored in former administrations. Not just Roosevelt and Wilson, but Harding, too, considered it an act of political tact to occasionally honor a great Jewish feat.
But President Coolidge does not hold with precedents or traditions. 66 cents, it seems, are more valuable to him.
For 66 cents is the exact amount that it would have cost him to have three words -- "Charles A. Levine" -- cabled to Germany to acknowledge an American pioneer. Are the pennies worth that much, or is it just a coincidence that the pioneer is named Levine?
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