Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
Winter Soldiers image

Foreword by Frank Boas

THE SAFETY of our country must be based on a serene confidence in the good sense of our people. Our confidence must be based on the belief in the ability of our citizens to form clear judgments regarding the problems of our time. Hence the necessity for an education that teaches the young to think and to form opinions not swayed by the catchwords of the day, that enables them to resist the clamor of the press, the radio and the movie. Such education is possible only if the teacher himself is free to think, if he is not prevented from presenting facts impartially.

The attacks upon our schools emanating from Chambers of Commerce, Economic Councils and Legislatures are intended to curtail schooling and to indoctrinate the young with the idea that all is well and that every attempt to adjust the old ways to new needs is subversive and will lead to disaster. They are opposed to fundamental needs of our times, to the education of the masses to independent thinking, to clearing away of prejudices and to a tolerant understanding of the needs and aspirations of the various groups constituting our society.

The well being of our country is based on the freedom of the school and on the freedom of the teacher, upon his ability to give impartial information and upon his ability to develop not only this knowledge but also the character of his pupils. The more he is restricted by bureaucratic requirements, the more he is under surveillance by irresponsible outsiders, the less efficient will he be as a true educator.

New York schools are suffering at present grievously under the attacks made upon them by a Committee of the Legislature. The utterances of the Chairman and the reports of his activities, if true, indicate that his ideals conform to those of the Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce of New York, and the Economic Council and are opposed to the freedom of the school.

“Winter Soldiers” brings home the needs and achievements of the school. The illustrations of school life and of school ideals will open the eyes of many, more effectively than the written word alone can do.

Racial intolerance is held up to ridicule in the symbol of Max Yergan. The complete disregard of race among children uncontaminated by conventional race prejudice is brought before our eyes. The efforts of the “Signpost” and its backers to close our city colleges and their reflection of the views of the Christian Front and other agencies that foment race antagonism are disclosed. These are subjects to which the Rapp-Coudert Committee has been wilfully blind. The overcrowded class rooms and the urge of the masses to obtain educational facilities find significant expression.

May “Winter Soldiers” gain victory over the enemies of education.

June 17, 1941

Gilbert Wilson