McKinley Sims’ Critical Thinking
Astute citizen exposed West’s double standards

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | January 28, 2015                    

“How any government which calls itself a democracy can have the crass audacity to admonish other governments for denying human rights to their citizens is beyond this writer’s comprehension in the face of what is going on in the Southern states.” — 1949 letter by McKinley Sims For at least a quarter century, McKinley Sims (1896-1976) of Buffalo, New York wrote letters to publications on a wide array of topics—local politics, rent control, agriculture, Presidential campaigns, labor unions, race relations, colonialism, economics, the military... the list goes on and on.

Nowhere were his opinions more regularly published than in The Buffalo Courier-Express, who ran his writings in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Sims became a regular fixture in their "What Our Readers Say—From the Mailbag" section, with many fellow readers writing in either to laud or ridicule his prolific political commentaries.

What most probably didn’t know at the time was that Sims was African-American — a married musician and composer born in South Carolina.

Much of what Sims wrote still applies today. In the following two letters, Sims commented on the hypocritical Western foreign policy which selectively condemned despotism in some countries while turning a blind eye to others. “What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander”, Sims liked to say.

“The foreign and domestic policy of this country should be brought into phase with its moral philosophy.” — Sims, May 1951

One letter examined a November 9th, 1951 speech by Winston Churchill, days after his re-election as Prime Minister, about the importance of the Anglo-American alliance under the threat of World War III. Highlights from that speech can be viewed in this British newsreel:

Sims pointed out that Churchill suggested American dawdling had led to the previous World War, which he gathered from this line: “A tithe of the efforts now being made by America would have prevented the second World War and would have probably led to the downfall of Hitler, with scarcely any blood being shed, except his own.”

In April 1970, a liberal candidate from a neighboring district endorsed Sims for state committeeman in Buffalo’s 142nd Assembly District.

Monday, November 19, 1951

Queries on Cold War

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:—

In a speech at the annual dinner of the Lord Mayor of London, Prime Minister Churchill painted an extremely gloomy picture of the world situation, involving the United States and Russia. While paying tribute to America, Mr. Churchill indirectly blamed this country for World War II. Moreover, the British prime minister let it be known that he wasn’t satisfied with the present amount of assistance being given England by the United States.

Mr. Churchill stressed the point that American efforts to deter Communist aggression are “the main foundation of peace.” In my opinion that assumption is only true in part of what should be done by all of the avowed free nations of the world. The prime minister asserted that he wanted to see Britain “play her full part” in the anti-Communist world, which poses the question of what is the present cold-hot war all about? Is it being fought for the freedom of the masses of the world?

Or is it being fought for the benefit of predatory investors, colonial overlords and the industrial czar only? England’s stand on Egypt and Iran and her other colonial possessions, France’s stand on Indochina, and American support of corrupt and tyrannical governments the world over, including a recent agreement to sell military equipment to the most despotic and reactionary government in the world, the Union of South Africa, supplies the answer to the above query.

The writer would like to know the difference between the so-called Russian slave state, and the slave states in Africa and elsewhere, and why is this country fighting despotic dictatorships in some countries and at the time time supporting dictatorships in other countries?


Thursday, May 1, 1952

Charges Colonialism is Totalitarian

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:—

The stand or lack of a stand taken by the United States recently on the French colonial issue involving Tunisia added more grist to the Communist propaganda mill. It would be interesting to have some of the violent anti-Communist rabble-rousers attempt to prove that colonial totalitarianism is better morally than Communist totalitarianism.

It would seem that this country has completely abrogated its traditional theoretical policy of championing the cause of the masses in other countries. It is very unfortunate that for the sake of expediency the United States is invariably to be found supporting the predatory colonial nations while at the same time preaching and proclaiming support of the free peoples of the world.

The very abstention of the U.S. delegate to the United Nations to vote on the Tunisian issue [independence movement resisting French occupation] was in effect an endorsement of the nefarious colonial system. Considering the silence of the leaders of this republic involving what is presently transpiring in Malan’s South Africa [Prime Minister Daniel F. Malan, whose government instituted apartheid] and the support of freedom in other countries, it is easy to assume that the policy of this government is not one of championing the rights of individuals.

The real bleat against Communism is designed to protect the investors of this country. Therefore it is absolutely nauseating to listen and read the pious pronouncements emanating from high places about the rights of free peoples. Regardless of the potential military power of the West it is safe to conclude that the job of perpetual colonialism in the final analysis will prove to have been too prodigious for the Western exploiters. The foreign and domestic policy of this country should be brought into phase with its moral philosophy.


Random sampling of praise and scorn for the prodigious Mr. Sims...

August 29, 1946

Praise for McKinley Sims

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:

I want you to know how much I enjoy and appreciate the letters to this column written by McKinley Sims. This writer has a grasp on world affairs so keen and so correct as to make peanuts out of the expressions from those who try to answer him.

Whoever this McKinley Sims is, he should certainly occupy a place far above writing his views to any newspaper. He is representative of all that is good, all that is worthwhile, in our land.

America will never be all-bad, so long as McKinley Sims lives.


October 23, 1946

Disapproves Letter Writer

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:

Your prolific letter-writer, McKinley Sims, seems to prefer Russian propaganda to American ideals. That’s his privilege, and may God have mercy on his soul.

East Aurora

April 14, 1947

Dislikes Sims’ Letters

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:

McKinley Sim’s letters not only smell of Communism, they smell.

J. J. A.

April 19, 1947

Praise for Sims

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:

All the J. H. Martins, and A. L. B.’s and Anti-Simses [one detractor signed his letter ANTI-SIMS] and all others who bang their heads against the McKinley Sims stone wall, are certainly reaping a crop of sore heads but the old wall still stands.

In knowledge and facts and truth, McKinley Sims is so far beyond them it is pathetic. You’d wonder how so many people could be so wrong.

“Unilateral mentalities”. That’s what they are, Mr. Sims. Keep after em!

We like you because of the type of enemies you make.

B. B. L.

June 7, 1948

Surprised at Confidence

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:

I must give McKinley Sims and A. L. B. credit for one thing. They speak so eloquently about the international situation that one is led to think that they know more about foreign affairs than the State Department. Yet we didn’t train all our diplomats for nothing, or did we?


October 22, 1948

Dislikes Sims’ Letters

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:

I am a constant reader of The Courier-Express and have great respect for your paper as a whole. But I can’t imagine why a first class paper besmirches its people’s column with the nonsensical, factless, warped and insulting letters which from time to time appear over the signature of McKinley Sims.

I am sure you will render your readers a great service if in the future you refuse to publish them.


August 24, 1949

Likes Sims’ Letters

Editor, Buffalo Courier-Express:—

If there is anything I enjoy in The Courier-Express it is the letters from the readers. They are, all in all, entertaining, enlightening and inspiring. But there are a few contributors who stand above the others as writers. And among this select group, I would place McKinley Sims.

Sims, a serious writer, is, no doubt, a good one. The three points to writing he employs with force, and the consistency of his approach is a tribute to him. He’s a keen observer. His material is precise and his arguments are valid. His views are clear and fair and intelligently presented.

In conclusion may I mention praise for those men and women who sign their names.



Related links:

Percival Leroy Prattis: Is There Someone, Somewhere, Strong Enough To Help US? (1953)

Series of Letters in The Buffalo Courier-Express Debate Ethics of Nationalization (1954)

TIME Magazine’s 1951 "Man of the Year" Choice Portends 60 Years of U.S. Foreign Policy

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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