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Letters to the Editor

American fascism

Trump’s flirtation with fascism dismays many people, but we should not be surprised. The United States has a tradition of fascism, with and without populism.

“The Secret War Against the Jews” by John Lotus and Mark Aarons, describes alliances since the 1920s among fascists, oil companies, Middle East dictators, and right-wing Americans. “Prior to the 1940 election, the Third Reich made a concerted effort to intervene in American politics. Seven U.S. senators and 13 congressmen received campaign contributions. Much of the ‘isolationist’ wing of Congress was bought and paid for in Berlin.”

These authors explain that Republicans, beginning with Eisenhower, and for the rest of the 20th century, recruited fascist immigrants to defeat Democrats. Some Nazis helped Democrats, but “in 90 percent of the cases, the members of Hitler’s political organizations went to the Republicans.” 

Those fascists also appear in “The Nazis Next Door” by Eric Lichtbau. Furthermore, he describes Pat Buchanan, a senior adviser to Presidents Nixon and Reagan. In 1985, Buchanan urged Reagan to visit the Bitburg cemetery in Germany, to honor SS officers buried there. Buchanan was the source of Reagan’s remark: Those Nazis were “victims … just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.” Compare this with Trump’s equivocation about Charlottesville, “very fine people on both sides.”

“The Plots against the President” by Sally Denton discusses Huey Long and Charles Coughlin, anti-Semitic demagogues in the ’30s. Franklin Roosevelt wrote, “Long is plausibly a candidate of the Hitler type for the presidency in 1936.” She describes an attempted coup against Roosevelt, the Business Plot. It started in 1933, by the American Liberty League. The League’s founders were a “Who’s who of American capitalism and reactionary politics, of organizations and individuals … with avowed anti-labor and pro-fascist policies.” 

“Demagogues and Democracy” by Cynthia Koch describes the Union Party, formed in 1936 to oppose Roosevelt. Among the founders were Charles Coughlin and another anti-Semite, Gerald L.K. Smith, who took over Long’s group, Share Our Wealth. At its height, the party gathered support from perhaps 10 percent of the population. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation, http://fdrfoundation.org/publications/2016/demagogues/demagogues.htm.

Forewarned is forearmed. Oppose Trump.

Elizabeth Appelbaum, Ph.D.

Overland Park, Kansas


Excellent presentation

I was glad to see that Irene Stiefel Starr’s, “My Second Generation Talk,” is now part of the Library of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Listening Post 9/14/2017). 

I coordinate speakers in my job at the Accelerated Schools of Overland Park. Last April, Irene came to speak to our high school students. Her presentation was excellent. 

Our students were engaged and learned so much, the middle school teachers asked if she could come back and speak to our middle school students. 

Once again her program was excellent. 

It this atmosphere of intolerance that seems to be on the uprise, Irene’s presentation reminds us what happens when hate takes over. 

Yasher koach to Irene. I hope everyone listens to her presentation. 

Ellen Portnoy

Overland Park, Kansas