Populist Review: Fascism in America – Roots of the Current Predicament
“… The American Left have proven inept in gauging this fascist menace, much less mounting an effective response. Few are aware of the history that brought us to our current predicament. …”
By Andrea Hackett
Populist Review | Sep 18, 2009
In order to fight an enemy you must know that enemy. You must know their strengths and weknesses, history and organizations, links, objectives and capabilities. You must know their operational methods and familiarize yourself with the central players. In short, you must do your homework. In the case of global fascism, you must also respect their fanaticism and willingness to use violence to further their goals.
The American Left have proven inept in gauging this fascist menace, much less mounting an effective response. Few are aware of the history that brought us to our current predicament. Reactionary organizations, right wing militias, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and theocrats are too often seen as loosely-linked idealogues with little ability to destablize the country.
In this series of articles I hope to disspell that notion. If we are ever to mount an effective defense, much less an offense, we must fully fathom this treasonous menace and perpare ourselves for the actions needed to fight their ascent to power.
The Fascist Right in America – Part I
The Fascist American Right is, and has been, an amalgam of Nazi war criminals, fascists, fascist sympathizers, militarists, intelligence operatives, organized crime figures, theocrats, opportunists, foreign nationals, corporate and individual sponsors, compromised government officials and everyday citizens whose fear, greed, ignorance and frustration make them ready targets for political manipulation. On the surface, these groups and individuals seem diverse. But they invariably have one thing in common: The Republican Party.
Nazis were collaborating with the Republican Party as far back as the 1920 election when George Sylvester Viereck, charged with sedition and exposed as the grand puppeteer behind the notorious Nazi publisher Flanders Hall, used his Burgerbund organization to campaign for Harding. In 1928, the Republican State Committee in New York adopted dozens of proposals from pro-Nazi publisher, Edmund Furholzer. Four years later, Furholzer was campaigning tirelessly for Herbert Hoover. He repatriated to his native Germany in 1933 when Hitler seized power.
In 1934, when the Republican Party merged their Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees they hired Sidney Brooks, leader of the pro-fascist Order 76, son of Nazi agent Col. Edwin Emerson and top researcher at ITT, one of the corporations who continued trading with the Nazis after we entered the war. Emerson was a major financial backer of Furholzer’s pro-Nazi publications. On March 4th 1934, Brooks met with William Dudley Pelly for the express purpose of merging his Order 76 with Pelly’s pro-fascist Silver Shirt organization.
And Silver Shirt was no insignificant organization.
Many of today’s far right groups can trace their roots directly back to the Silver Shirts, which was founded by Pelly in Asheville, NC on Jan. 1, 1933, the exact date Hitler seized power. Described, even then, as a “Christian militia,” the Silver Shirts were one of the largest and most violent pro-Nazi groups in America. They believed Jews were the spawn of Satan (Pelly was fired as a Hollywood screenwriter). They had strong ties to the Ku Klux Klan and extremist groups in the Pacific Northwest that formed when the local Klan splintered. Henry Lamont Beach, who founded the reactionary Posse Comitatus (“power of the country”) was a Silver Shirt leader in Oregon. Richard Butler, who founded the Aryan Nations in Hayden Lake, was a Silver Shirter and Klansman. Gerald L. K. Smith, one of the founders of the Christian Identity movement (which I’ll discuss in depth later) was an influential Silver Shirter.
One of the most influential organizations in America, the American Security Council, was formed from the remnants of three fascist groups from that era: the America First Committee, the American Vigilante Intelligence Federation (a product of the notorious pro-fascist, Harry Jung) and the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies (closely associated with eugenics and the Pioneer Fund which bankrolled the publication of the best-selling, eugenics-espousing books, The Bell Curve and Losing Ground.
The Bell Curve, by Charles Murray, was incessantly cited by Republicans during the second Bush Administration as scientific proof that African Americans were inferior to whites and therefore hampered by government programs which placed them in jobs and educational settings beyond their capabilities. The controversial welfare “reforms” of GWB’s Secy of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, were based in large part on the eugenic philosophy espoused by Murray. The Pioneer Fund paid Murray’s salary at the CIA-run Manhattan Institute for eight years while he penned the books. Thompson’s protege, Jason Turner, was later brought to NYC to implement Mayor Guiliani’s draconian “welfare elimination program.” While there, Turner gained a notorious reputation for quoting the motto over the gates to Auschwitz, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Will Make You Free).
If the Military-Industrial Complex had a mailstop, the American Security Council was it. They had direct ties to Nelson Bunker Hunt’s John Birch Society, Daniel Graham’s High Frontiers and the Western Goals Foundation (all of which I’ll describe at some length). The ASC was also the major architect of the Cold War. Through their lobbying arms, the National Security Caucus and the Coalition for Peace Through Strength (Dr. Strangelove, anyone?), the ASC produced innumerable articles and publications including their Guidelines for Cold War Victory and the National Strategy for Peace through Strength. They also had a profound influence on policy decisions during the Reagan Administration. Indeed, Ronald Reagan credited the organization with no less than “winning” the Cold War.
One article, published by the American Security Council on March 16, 1964 (just months after JFK’s assassination), presents a blueprint for political assassination that seems eerily similar to the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK and other American liberals.
“A political murder instigated by an intelligence service will be planned to approximate the ‘perfect crime.’ Every suitable deception and concealment technique will be used. If ‘imperceptible murder’ is not feasible or desirable, one of the following methods is to be used:
a) The assassin is given a cover story or ‘legend’
b) The assassin, unless he can be reliably hidden, will be destroyed, preferrably in such a way that his second murder cannot be traced back to the organizations (for example, he will be slugged by an infuriated cellmate)
c) The assassin will be described as a ‘loner’ and a ‘psychopath’ whose deed was not politically motivated; perhaps he was seeking personal revenge. In many of these undertakings, including the fabrication of ‘legends,’ and the manipulation of operatives, the murdered himself may be unaware that he is being maneuvered.”
One of the ASC’s predescessors, America First Committee, was the brainchild of Charles Lindbergh and Douglas Stuart, Jr., the son of a Quaker Oats vice president. America First’s mission was to unify opposition to the war against Hitler under a single umbrella group. The corporate charter was written by John Foster Dulles and signed by H. Smith Richardson (Smith Richardson Foundation) and William H. Regnery of Regnery Publishing (which published books critical of the Nuremberg Trials and was later subsidized by the CIA). Regnery and Richardson plowed $100,000 apiece into the organization. Two of the more notable members of AFC were William R. Castle, President Hoover’s under-Secretary of State and President Hoover himself, whose membership remained secret. Richardson and Regnery played prominent roles more recently in attempts to derail the Clinton Administration.
America First Committee membership, which grew to 800,000, included pro-Nazi Silver Shirters, members of the Ku Klux Klan, Laura Ingalls (the notorious Nazi agent), Ralph Townsend (a paid Japanese government agent), Garland Alderman (member of the Nazi-inspired, National Workers League, who was indicted for sedition), Dellmore Lessard (who resigned when the public learned he took funds from the Nazi-controlled Kyffhauserbund) and Thomas Dewey (Republican), who was in negotiations to take over the group until he realized it might become a political liability. Dewey also attacked Roosevelt relentlessly for his stance of unconditional surrender during the Battle of the Bulge, a moment we now embrace as emblematic of American heroism. His attempt to take over America First was related to FDR by Walter Winchell, the investigative reporter best remembered for his narrative role in the television series, The Untouchables.
America First members were extremely influential. According to Pat Buchanan, who somehow maintains a “conservative” reputation despite his fascist ties, Gerald Ford signed recruting posters for America First Committee while at Yale Law School. He also named Sen. Peter Dominick, Sargent Shriver and Kingman Brewster as America First members. Brewster became president of Yale in 1963 and appointed Tracy Barnes to direct community relations. Barnes was an OSS operations officer during WWII and a high-level CIA operative who organized the overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala, choosing E. Howard Hunt as his political officer.
William H. Regnery was one of the founders of the American Security Council. He was later replaced by his son, Henry. Regnery and Nelson Bunker Hunt, son of the Texas oil tycoon, H.L. Hunt, funded the intelligence-gathering organization, Western Goals Foundation which provided intelligence on liberals and “communist subversives” to the John Birch Society in the ’60’s. The John Birch Society was bankrolled by Nelson Bunker Hunt.
The Republican Party has been employing Nazis and pro-fascist groups since the 1930’s. In their book, The Nazi Hydra in America, Glen Yeadon and John Hawkins recount that on Oct. 22, 1936, the New York Post (now owned by ultra-right media mogul, Rupert Murdoch) broke the following story: Nazi Publicist on GOP Payroll: “To win votes for Landon and Bleakly, the Republican State Committee is employing on its payroll a staff of propagandists identified with local Nazi organizations.” On Oct 30, 1936, the New York World Telegram reported: “U.S. Nazi attack on Jews is Laid to Republicans: “The Republican Party has been sponsoring radio broadcasts by American Nazis to win German votes… One of the recent speakers was Dr. Ignatz T. Griebl, a national Nazi leader and pronounced anti-Semite.”
In the 1938 Minnesota governor’s race, Republican Party officials conducted a vicious anti-Jewish smear campaign to defeat Gov. Elmer Benson of the Farmer-Labor Party. Benson had the audacity to propose union wages for state workers, free busing for rural high school students, a two-year moratorium on farmer’s mortgages, increased benefits for the elderly and people on relief, and new provisions in the state’s unemployment benefits to include striking workers. Promoting such racial hatred and division, of course, played right into the hands of Hitler’s Nazi Party (amounting to no less than treason), but that didn’t stop the Republican Nazi Party.
That same year, the Republicans ran Harold Strassen. His campaign was orchestrated by Republican operative, Ray P. Chase whose dirt-gathering apparatus, Ray P. Chase Research Bureau, was funded by Minnesota’s business elite including Col. Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. In true Watergate style, files were stolen from the State Relief Department in an attempt to link Farmer-Labor members to communist activities. University of Minnesota Dean, Edward Nicholson, was even kind enough to provide data on left-leaning students, including Eric Sevareid who went on to become a celebrated journalist at CBS with Edward R. Murrow. During the campaign, Chase launched a vicious anti-Jewish attack on Gov. Benson, equating Judeism with communism.
Corporate complicity with the Nazis and the Republican Party cannot be downplayed. On Nov. 23, 1937, General Motors executives and other corporate leaders met with Baron Manfred von Killinger to confer their total commitment to the Nazi cause. Central to their secret commitment was the agreement to replace Roosevelt with Burton Wheeler, the pro-fascist Senator from Montana. A portion of the agreement, leaked to The Facts newsletter read:
“The substance of the German suggestion amounts to changing the spirit of our nation as expressed in recent elections… The people must become aware of the disastrous economic effects of the policies of the present administration. In the wake of a reorientation (emphasis mine) of public opinion a vigorous drive must start in the press and radio… this drive may center on the Republican National Committee.”
So here we have collusion between top corporate leaders, Nazi Party officials and the Republican Party.
By the 1940 election, Nazi involvement in American politics became extensive as they tried to keep the United States out of the war. A plot was hatched through which the Nazi Party could directly fund the Republican Party. That plot included William Rhodes Davis of Texas Oil. Davis had supplied the Germans with oil since 1936 and owned a huge Germany refinery. But his oil fields in Mexico had been nationalized. In retaliation, he colluded with Standard Oil of New Jersey to affect a boycott of Mexican oil. This huge loss in revenue prompted the Mexicans to become much more amenable to Davis’ proposal that they continue selling oil to the Nazis (thus protecting his investment). With the outbreak of war, Davis travelled to Germany to meet with Herman Goering. Goering agreed that backing the Republican Party was preferable to backing a third party to defeat Roosevelt.
But that would take money. $5 million dollars to be exact.
To obtain that money, Goering persuaded the Italians to release funds used for fascist propaganda and espionage. An Italian courier, Luigi Podesta, delivered the cash to the German consulate in New York and Davis deposited the money in accounts at the Bank of Boston, Irving Trust, Bank of America and the Bank of Germany in Mexico City.
On the night of the Republican National Convention, money from the Nazi slush fund was used for a far-flung isolationist propaganda blitz. One Republican congressman received $3,000 for heading a group of 50 isolationists. By the end of the convention, the party platform plank firmly opposed entering the war with Germany. In fact, the platform plank was copied almost verbatim from a Nazi propaganda ad placed in the New York Times by an obscure committee on June 25th, 1940. Stephen Day, a Republican Representative from Illinois, was paid thousands of dollars by the Nazis to form that committee. Nine other prominent Republicans signed the ad: Rep. Samuel Pettingill, Rep. Harold Knudsen, Rep. John O’Connor, Rep. Hamilton Fish, Sen. Edwin Johnson, Sen. Bennett Clark, Sen. David Walsh and Sen. Burton Wheeler.
It’s no exaggeration to say that a significant portion of the funds used by the Republican Party during the 1940 election came from the Nazi Party. The party’s entire expediture for the campaign was near $15 million and the $5 million funnelled through Davis was certainly not the only funds made available. Nor were Nazi collaborations restricted to these events. Top Republican leaders, including former president, Herbert Hoover, collaborated closely with high-level Nazi officials in Berlin to stop Roosevelt. This was corrobarated by post-war interviews with Hermann Goering and Gen. Ribbentrop.
For a review of George Bush’s grandfather (Prescott Bush’s) role in funneling cash to Hitler’s war machine, please see my article, The Ascent of Fascism in America. Suffice it to say, that Prescott Bush, Averill Harriman and others played a pivotal role in funding Hitler’s rise to power. Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say the Bush family owes their incredible wealth to the Third Reich.
Our Entry Into the War
With the attack on Pearl Harbor, pro-Nazi organizations lost many of their adherents, including pacifists duped into aligning their beliefs with isolationism, and were forced to wage their propaganda war underground. The Nazi agenda was now hidden under a new, patriotic banner of religion and free enterprise. To accomodate this new strategy, The National Committee for Religious Recovery was founded in 1940, changing its name to the Laymen’s National Committe in 1941 to affect a more populist appeal. But the organization was anything but populist. The first chairman, Lambert Fairchild, described its mission like this: “For God and Country you’re going to see religion and business formed into a solid phalanx. Let no rabble-rousing communist tell you anything else…”
Thus marked the start of a new era that opened the spigot to corporate funding for fascists who masqueraded as Christian patriots.
Fairchild’s ties to fascist organizations were numerous. He had ties to the American Bund (itself allied with the Ku Klux Klan), the Christian Mobilziers and the Christian Front. And though he was replaced by Howard Kiroack when his fascist ties were exposed by Newsweek, Kiroack proved equally fanatic.
The National Committee for Religious Recovery was rooted in the National Bible Association, whose roster of chairmen were utterly elitist and anything but religious. William Grede (co-founder of the John Birch Society), Charles Hook (CEO, Armaco Steel), Edward Werle (New York Stock Exchange), C. Fred Fetterolf (ALCOA), Richard DeVos (Amway founder) and J. Peter Grace (W.R.Grace Co.).
The W.R. Grace Co. was overtly pro-Nazi. At the end of World War II, the company was accused by the U.S. military of protecting a certain Nazi colonel (Col. Brite) in Bolivia. In 1951, when the CIA smuggled Nazi butcher, Klaus Barbie, out of Germany, he was sent to see this same Col. Brite. The company’s founder, William Grace, was closely associated with George deMohrenschildt who “befriended” Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife, Marina, and introduced them to the Czarist community in Texas. This same George deMohrenschildt was employed by Pantepec Oil (owned by William Buckley’s family) and was a regular at H.L. Hunt’s Petroleum Club in Dallas where he sang the praises of Heinrich Himmler!
John McCloy’s son had close ties to W.R. Grace and invested over $400,000 in partnership with J. Peter Grace. McCloy was the man who secured the release of Frederick Flick, the single greatest power behind the Nazi military muscle, from the hangman’s noose at Nuremberg. The fact that the W.R. Grace Co. was involved at the highest levels of the National Bible Association speaks volumes about its sinister purpose.
Richard DeVos is noteworthy here also. Pegged by Forbes in 2008 as the 73rd richest American with $3.5 billion, DeVos founded the multinational giant, Amway, and is affiliated with dozens of fascist organizations and think tanks including the Council on National Policy (which I’ll discuss at length), the late Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy and the Progress for America Voter Fund. His son, Dick, married Betsy Prince, sister of the notorious right wing extremist, Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater. DeVos served as Finance Chairman for the Republican National Committee.
Alcoa was a leading corporate sponsor of Nazi Germany and eugenics. During WWII, Alcoa negotiatied a deal with the Nazis and IG Farben to supply aluminum to Hitler instead of the U.S. military! Then-Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, said on June 26, 1941, “If American loses this war, it can thank Alcoa.” Alcoa also arranged to have flouride, a highly carcinogenic byproduct of aluminum production, added to our nation’s drinking water (It appears Gen. Jack Ripper, the mad general in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, had his facts wrong. If anything, flouridation was a Nazi plot!). During the war, Nazi scientists at IG Farben slave labor camps discovered that adding flouride to the drinking water made prisoners more submissive.
William Grede, another chairman of the National Bible Association, founded the John Birch Society with Richard Welch in 1958. Funding for the project came from fascist oil tycoon, Nelson Bunker Hunt. The John Birch Society was an ultra-right wing, anti-communist organization that used conspiracy theories, patriotic symbolism and free enterprise language to dupe grassroots organizations into supporting the goals of the power elite. Rigidly homophobic, the JBS opposed everything from integration to civil rights, which were decried as the product of a global communist conspiracy. One of their favorite targets was the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an “elitist” organization which they claimed was at the center of a global Jewish conspiracy of bankers and industrialists. In 1972, the JBS promoted a book by John Stormer entitled, None Dare Call It Treason which presented a scathing attack on the CFR and its alleged plot to create a one-world governement. What the book failed to mention was the fact that William Grede himself was the Director of the 7th Federal Reserve Bank, itself created and controlled by the Council on Foreign Relations.
By the time it was clear that fascism posed a serious threat to American democracy, the Left was unable to stop it. In my next article I’ll examine the exponential rise of American Fascism after the war, how Hitler’s spy network became the CIA and how a network of fascists, Nazis, spies, foreign nationals and crime figures murdered a sitting president.