When I was a boy growing up in Marion, Ohio, there was a syndicated column that appeared every week written by Victor Riesel. The column, accompanied by a stark line line drawing showing a middle-aged man in a hat with dark glasses, was always tight, well-written and made its points effectively. When I read of Riesel's death in 1995, I mourned. Riesel was first and foremost anti-totalitarian. As the threat of fascism receded after World War II, he began to concentrate on the hideous nature of communism and, closer to home, the cancer of the mob-dominated unions.
Victor's daddy had been a union organizer, as Wikipedia reports:
When Victor was three years old, his father taught him to make pro-union speeches and would take his son to rallies and union meetings and have the boy recite the speeches for onlookers. Attending union meetings, indoor and outdoor rallies, and standing on street corners promoting the union formed many of Victor Riesel's childhood and teenage memories. In the 1920s and 1930s, Nathan Riesel successfully opposed Communist Party USA attempts to infiltrate activists into the local union and turning its purpose to promotion of the party (a strategy known as "boring from within"). Throughout his childhood and teenage years, he saw his father come home bleeding many times after fistfights with communist activists or gangsters. This conflict left a deep impression on Victor. . .
Two additional events in Riesel's life led him to a career as a labor reporter. The first occurred in March 6, 1930, during a visit to his father's union offices. Riesel saw a man weeping on the stairs because he had no job and his famiy had no food to eat. The second occurred in 1942. Nathan Riesel was now fighting organized crime influence in his union, and despaired of keeping his local out of criminal hands. Nathan Riesel was very badly beaten by gangsters in 1942, and died five years later (in part due to the injuries suffered during and surgeries related to this attack). . .
Victor Riesel's labor journalism career formally began in 1937 when he started writing a regular column on labor union issues.
He was hired by The New York Post in 1941. His column became nationally syndicated in 1942. He left the Post in 1948 after a change in management, and joined William Randolph Hearst's New York Daily Mirror. Within eight years, his column was syndicated in 193 newspapers.
His investigation of Communist Party infiltration of the National Maritime Union led Representative Louis B. Heller to introduce legislation in 1951 to investigate the charges. In 1951 and 1952, Riesel provided Senator Pat McCarran with information that led to a Senate investigation into communist influence in the United Public Workers of America. In 1952, he publicly alleged before the Subcommittee on Internal Security (led at the time by Sen. McCarran) that Local 65 of the Distributive, Processing and Office Workers of America was controlled by the Communist Party. The same year, he denounced Genovese crime family boss Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio for engaging in labor racketeering. Anastasio sued Riesel for $1 million for libel, but the suit was thrown out of court. In 1956, Riesel began working with United States Attorney Paul Williams to rein in labor racketeering in the New York City garment and trucking industries.
Riesel was fearless. So the labor mobsters decided to send him a message. As the New York Times reported in his obituary:
In a crime that shocked the nation, Mr. Riesel was assaulted just after leaving Lindy's restaurant in midtown Manhattan at 3 A.M. on April 5, 1956. An hour earlier, he had finished a radio broadcast in which he assailed the leadership of a Long Island local of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
"I wasn't important as a man, but I was important as a symbol," Mr. Riesel (pronounced re-ZELL) wrote later. "The attack on me was an attack on the entire free press, challenging its right to expose crime and injustice. In hitting me, the underworld was thumbing its nose at the community and the forces of law and order."
Accompanied by a friend and his secretary, Mr. Riesel was headed for his car on 51st Street that night when a young man emerged from the shadows near the Mark Hellinger Theater.
"The acid caught me right between the eyes," he wrote. "He stood there calmly for a moment, deliberately appraising his work. Then he ambled away."
One month later, doctors told Mr. Riesel that he would never see again.
"There was no terror at the moment when I knew I had crossed the line into permanent darkness," Mr. Riesel wrote. "There was only a sudden feeling of shame. I was afraid that people would treat me too gently or shy away from me as though from a freak. And suddenly, I wondered if I could go on writing and earning a living."
But he did.
Abe Telvi, the man accused of throwing the acid, was found dead on Mulberry Street on the morning of July 28, 1956. There was a bullet in his head.
On Aug. 18, the F.B.I. arrested eight men and said the blinding was the work of garment district terrorists determined to silence Mr. Riesel.
Despite his blinding, Mr. Riesel never stopped inveighing against gangster infiltration and other corruption in labor unions that had stirred his emotions since his youth.
His column, which appeared locally in The Daily Mirror in New York, was syndicated to as many as 350 newspapers at its height.
Riesel's blinding was not the work of some small potatoes in the union/mob cabal. As the New York Times reported here,
Riesel attacked racketeering in Local 138 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, based in Long Island. . . . Riesel had also attacked (Jimmy) Hoffa, who was maneuvering from his Middle Western base to take over the national leadership of the Teamsters. . . The police learned that the acid thrower was a 22-year-old apprentice hoodlum named Abraham Telvi, who disappeared for a while. They arrested a second-level labor hoodlum -- and Hoffa crony -- named John DioGuardia (better known as Johnny Dio) and charged him with ordering the attack. But witnesses suddenly developed amnesia and Johnny Dio went free. When Telvi, who had been paid $1,175 by middlemen to do the job, understood the importance of his victim, he demanded more money. He was murdered on July 28 on the Lower East Side, not far from where Riesel grew up. . . (I)n Sheridan's 1972 book, "The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa," he relates a tale told to him by an honest teamster named Sam Baron, who was in a hotel room with Hoffa one night in 1956:
Hoffa went into another room to take a phone call and then came back into the room where Baron . . . and others were gathered. According to Baron, Hoffa walked up to him and poked his finger in his chest, saying, "Hey, Baron, a friend of yours got it this morning."
"What do you mean?" Baron asked.
"That son of a bitch Victor Riesel. He just had some acid thrown on him. It's too bad he didn't have it thrown on the goddamn hands he types with."
The cynical said that the blinding made Victor Riesel's career. The truth was that his indomitable courage against tyranny of any kind attracted readership and the blinding, horrific as it was, merely brought his work to a larger audience and gave him far more influence than he had ever had before.
Victor Riesel came to mind when I read this piece posted at Restore the Constitution by Daniel Almond, in which he discusses the use of sulphuric acid as a tactic.
In turn, his column received mention at John Robb's Global Guerrillas and he, and Three Percenters, were condemned in the comments for even bringing up the subject. Pete at Western Rifle Shooters also weighed in with comments at GG.
A few years back it was "cold dead hands" then its "take the fight to the enemy" now its GG stuff -- then its mutilate them -- where do you draw the line ? Go after the family? The social network? The waitress who served them coffee? Her family ? This is basically something close to tribal warfare dolled up as 3% politics --
And yes I am aware that these are a minority even among the 3%'rs and that I sound like the Southern Poverty Law Center (and thats not necessarily a good thing) but it does seem to me that rheotoric has gone into some bad places of late.
These are areas where the people saying it are not going for "lets kill our enemies and restore our vision of the Republic"which is bad enough but into "once this is done we will have to exterminate our possible foes" because frankly once you've crossed certain moral thresholds thats the only sound conclusion. You've lost the moral war, they will never want to caucus or cooperate with you, you have to murder or enslave them.
Here is my comment left at Global Guerrillas:
Mike Vanderboegh said...
As the guy who popularized the concept of the Three Percent, the guy who wrote letters to Attorney General Holder reminding him that there are "No more free Wacos" and "No more free Katrinas," the guy whose call to break the windows of local Democrat Party headquarters was answered by some folks around the country and subsequently denounced by the whole MSNBC crowd as well as Bill Clinton, as the guy who subsequently received death threats from the collectivist left, including envelopes with powder in them, which included threats to my family, as the guy whose arrest under the PATRIOT Act, incarceration at Guantanamo and prison rape was demanded by these self-same "leftists," I have a comment.
The entire thrust of my work for the last fifteen years has been to try to avoid a civil war by reminding people of how possible one is, and how horrible they are once they get started. Only by establishing credible deterrence can one be avoided. This means, as I said back during the 90s to an impatient gun confiscationist who demanded to know my position in the fewest possible words:
"If you try to take our firearms we will kill you."
When I warned Holder that there would be no more free Wacos, that is merely the above sentiment writ large. The purpose of the Three Percent is to draw a line, not in the sand, but etched in granite that we will obey no more restrictionist gun laws. Period.
Insofar as horror is concerned, you have to get to the macro government level before you really begin to experience that. Take the Clinton Administration for example.
Ever see the forensic photos of the dead babies at Waco? That was done by a government -- our government -- THEIR government -- with clinical, calculated coldness. No one ever experienced the least inconvenience over 80 dead Davidians.
Later, Bill Clinton did us another favor when he was finding the Serbians a bit irritating. He changed the rules of engagement to allow attacks on the political leadership, the news media and the intellectual underpinnings of his enemies. In pursuance of this policy, he put precision guided munitions into the homes of Serb politicians, and the broadcast facilities of Serbian radio and television (oh, yeah, and a Chinese embassy, but who's counting?). All he managed to kill (other than the Chinese) were some security guards, floor sweepers and make-up artists.
So, following Clinton's example, if some tyrant wannabes in this country kick off a civil war, why shouldn't we also target, a la 4GW, the politicians, talking heads and intellectual supporters of said tyranny?
I mean, Bill Clinton said it was OK, right?
While I certainly have not embraced or endorsed sulphuric acid as a tactic, I wonder what would be said today if someone had done so to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Mao?
The larger point is this: Take a look around. If you think that tyranny cannot come to this country, you're whistling past the graveyard of history.
And when, not if, that some tyrant wannabe decides his appetite is greater than the threat of retaliation, do you really think that someone throwing acid in the face of a killer bureaucrat, an American Eichmann, will be anything more than passing headline? By that time the bodies will be stacked too high to see.
But enunciated NOW, as a cautionary tale, might just prevent someone from doing something stupid because he or she thinks they can get away with it.
We are not revolutionaries trying to tell folks what to do. They are the revolutionaries against the Founders' Republic. The fact that they are Gramscian gradualists does not alter this fact. It is we who are Restorationists. All we want is the Founders' Republic and the rule of law once more. Failing that, we want, no, we demand, to be left the hell alone. Yet their appetites will not allow them to leave us alone.
And now that they feel themselves so close, and yet with the opportunity seemingly slipping away, is when they are the most dangerous to public liberty and private property.
So if a story breaks through to their consciousness that there are possible terrible unintended consequences for their tyrannical appetites, then I say all the better.
Let them look in the mirror and imagine a ruined face. It would be, in that horrible event forced upon us by their tyrannical actions, the least awful outcome for them, and certainly far less than they would already be inflicting upon their innocent countrymen.
If they wish, as Bill Clinton apparently does, to make us Three Percenters the new boogeymen then I am willing to embrace the slur. If it prevents the outbreak of accidental civil war in this country, I can spare my reputation.
For it is better to be despised by the despicable than admired by the admirable. And to be denounced by a serial perjurer and rapist is perhaps the greatest honor of all.
The alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters
Moral component set aside (and I don't, but let's do it for the purposes of argument), like the threat of torture is far more effective than torture itself, I think discussion of this -- planting the seed of possibility in the enemy's head -- is far more effective than actually carrying it out. Just ask Victor Riesel's enemies. They made him far more powerful and effective by blinding him than anything else they could have done. They maimed him, yes, but they did not intimidate him, they did not take him out of the equation. Indeed, he emerged as a much more implacable foe of theirs than he had been before.