A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 31, 2010
“A liberal is a man who leaves the room when the fight begins”

New York newspaper columnist Heywood Broun (1888-1939) is known for saying: “A liberal is a man who leaves the room when the fight begins.” Broun was a socialist who believed that liberals were too weak to fight for what they believed in.

The exact and original Broun quotation hasn’t been found, but Broun’s definition of a liberal was cited in print in 1935 and in 1937.


Wikipedia: Heywood Broun
Heywood Campbell Broun (pronounced /ˈbruːn/; December 7, 1888 – December 18, 1939) was an American journalist. He worked as a sportswriter, newspaper columnist, and editor in New York City. He founded the American Newspaper Guild, now known as The Newspaper Guild. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he is best remembered for his writing on social issues and his championing of the underdog. He believed that journalists could help right wrongs, especially social ills.

Career
Broun was born in Brooklyn, the third of four children born to Heywood C. Broun and Henrietta Marie (née Brose) Broun. He went to Harvard University in 1906 and graduated in 1910. He commenced his professional career writing baseball stories in the sports section of the New York Morning Telegraph. He worked at the New York Tribune from 1912–1921 rising to drama critic before transferring to the New York World (1921–28). It was at the World where his syndicated column, It Seems to Me, began. In 1928 he moved to the Scripps-Howard newspapers, including the New York World-Telegram, where it appeared until he moved it to the New York Post just before his death.
(...)
In 1930, Broun unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Socialist. A slogan of Broun’s was “I’d rather be right than Roosevelt.”

Google Books
Redder than the Rose
By Kyle Crichton
New York, NY: Covici, Friede
1935
Pg. 170:
Heywood Broun has defined a Liberal as one who leaves the room when the fight starts, but that is manifestly unfair. A Liberal is a person who may be counted upon to end up with the side he has been fighting, but that is no reason to malign him or to…

13 August 1937, New York (NY) Times, “Lewis Urges Fight By Telegraph Men,” pg. 2:
Asserting that thousands of employes of telegraph and other communications companies face dismissal in the near future because of improved labor-saving devices, John L. Lewis, chairman of the Committee for Industrial Organization, urged them last night to organize in order to protect themselves against this threat.
(...)
Harry Bridges, West Coast longshoremen’s leader; Joseph Curran of the National Maritime Union; Willard Bliss, director of the organizing drive in the communications field; Michael Quill, president of the Transport Workers Union; Ben Golden and Heywood Broun, president of the American Newspaper Guild, also addressed the gathering.
(...)
Mr. Broun denounced “half-baked liberals” after defining a liberal as a man who always leaves the room just before the fight begins. He said that the American Newspaper Guild was going to stay with the C. I. O. because it believed that the leadership of the C. I. O. was the ablest and most efficient in the labor movement today.

Google Books
In Fact
Volume 9
1944
Pg. ?:
Heywood Broun, first president of the Guild, said “a liberal is a man who leaves the room when the fight begins”; he did not foresee his fake liberal successor deserting the fight in wartime.

Google Books
Here’s to the Friars:
The heart of show business

By Joey Adams
New York, NY: Crown Publishers
1976
Pg. 57:
Columnist and crusader Heywood Broun could have been the most lethal of the circle: He once carved up a liberal as “a man who leaves the room when the fight starts.”

Google Books
Safire’s Political Dictionary
By William Safire
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2008
Pg. 389:
Columnist Heywood Broun, who came to consider himself a radical, wrote: “A liberal is a man who leaves a room when a fight begins,” a definition adopted by militant Saul Alinsky.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, December 31, 2010 • Permalink