Saturday, May 14, 2011

Studies in Prejudice: Prophets of Deceit (1 of 6)

Leo Löwenthal and Norbert Guterman, Prophets of Deceit: A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator (1949)

The focus of this study by Leo Löwenthal and Norbert Guterman was on far-right sect leaders including Leon de Aryan, Court Asher, Charles Coughlin, Elizabeth Dilling, Charles Hudson, Carl Mote, William Dudley Pelley, Gerald L. K. Smith, and Gerald Winrod. Of that unsavory lot, Coughlin, Smith, Pelley and Winrod are often mentioned in referring to the Radical Right of the 1930s. So is Elizabeth Dilling, who achieved new currency recently when Glenn Beck discovered her book The Red Network (1934), gushing about it on-air. De Aryan, Asher, Hudson and Mote have pretty much sunk to the totally obscurity that all of them deserve.

Elizabeth Dilling 1894-1966
Simon Maloy of Media Matters discussed Beck and Dilling in Why is Beck promoting an anti-Semite on the radio? 06/04/2010 and More on Glenn Beck's new favorite anti-Semitic author, Elizabeth Dilling 06/04/2010. Dave Neiwert also provides a good account in Now Glenn Beck loves American Nazi sympathizers: Promotes book by prominent Hitler advocate of the 1930s C&L 06/05/2011. Maloy in the first of those posts calls her “one of the more prolific anti-Semites of the mid-20th century.” Maloy and Neiwert both quotes Glen Jeansonne and writer David Luhrssen from their article on Dilling in Women and war: a historical encyclopedia from antiquity to the present, Volume 1 (2006), Bernard Cook, ed., which gives a good brief summary of the political environment of which Dilling was part:

When World War II began in 1939, Dilling was part of the national network of anti-Semitics, anti-Communists, and Nazi sympathizers such as Father Charles Coughlin, Reverend Gerald L. K. Smith, Reverend Gerald Winrod, and William Dudley Pelley. Material generated by Nazi organizations in Germany to inspire race hated and exploit dissatisfaction in the United States found its way into Dilling's publications. She spoke at rallies hosted by the leading U.S. Nazi organization, the German-American Bund, and had traveled to Germany, pronouncing the country as flourishing under Hitler.

Dilling called for appeasing Germany; she blamed the war on Jews and Communists and accused the Roosevelt administration of being controlled by Jewish Communists. ... After Pearl Harbor, Dilling resisted wartime rationing and denounced the Allies.
She lived until 1966:

Dilling spent the remainder of her life publishing broadsides against the north Atlantic Treaty Organization [Old Right isolationists opposed the treaty], foreign aid, the income tax, racial mixing, the fluoridation of water, the Vietnam War, and the war on poverty. She had long been dismissed as a crank before her death in 1966, although some of her literature continues to be cited in right-wing circles.
Löwenthal and Gutermann use the term "agitator" in this book to refer specifically to far-right speakers and groups. That was the focus of their study. They didn't attempt to make comparisons to groups on the left outside the mainstream like the Communist Party. In this summary, I follow their usage of "agitator."

Continued in Part 2

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