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Pages of History – The Walrus of Moron-Land

September 7, 2010 |  4:00 am

Walrus of Moron Land

dropcap_I_vadis came across this article from the February 1928 issue of “The American Mercury” while researching the 1910 bombing of The Times. It’s a bit difficult to determine from ProQuest precisely when Louis Sherwin [Hugo Louis Sherwin Golitz] worked for The Times, but it was evidently early in his career. 

Sherwin is a skilled writer and, in keeping with the tone of H.L. Mencken’s “Mercury,” pricks the balloons of as many civic boosters, Babbitts and gods of the “booboisie” as possible. He portrays Gen. Harrison Gray Otis as the usual warlike buffoon and yet mourns the old boy: “If there had been even a mere dozen more Otises throughout the country, it would be a more agreeable place today.”

On Page 193, he also makes an interesting note of Otis’ fight over a union shop, which began in 1890:

“The demand that put the burr under his saddle was the rule that ties the competent fellow down to the pace of the blockhead. It is, as I suppose most people know, an implicit law of organized labor that, no matter how good a comrade is, he must not work so rapidly and efficiently as to throw his lazy and half-witted mates out of their jobs. This rule cripples the publishing business of America today, as it cripples other industries, and has driven more than one editor and proprietor out of the field altogether.”

By the way, the article begins with a quote from “Brann, the Iconoclast.” Those who consider Otis’ anti-union editorials to be the depth of venomous invective would do well to read a few pages. Warning: “Brann, the Iconoclast” is liberally sprinkled racist terms and the N-word. William Cowper Brann could give lessons to Andrew Breitbart, except that he and an irate reader shot each other to death in 1898. There’s something to offend just about everybody.