Joseph Hansen

Father Coughlin: Fascist Demagogue

Who Is the Man, What Is His Program,
How Did He Rise?

Aided by Big Business, America’s Number One Fascist
Rose from Obscurity to Lead a Movement

(June 1939)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 43, 20 June 1939, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2016 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2016; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

Installment III

Coughlin Opposes Social Security

Yes, Coughlin is thoroughly devoted to capitalism. He opposes capitalism granting even the slightest concession to labor.

To guarantee food and clothing to a laboring man and his family when some sordid capitalist throws him out of a job would threaten the capitalist structure Father Coughlin thinks!

“Studying it (the Social Security Act) closely, one discovers that basically it is socialistic in its conception and aims. It is socialism of the old school; socialism that offers a remedy more disastrous than the threatened evil; socialism that demands we take from those who have and give to those who have not.” (Social Justice, October 17, 1938.)

In the same editorial he advocates giving everyone an “annual living wage” instead of Social Security.

What Father Coughlin considers an “annual living wage” in dollars he does not state. It must be less than social security to gain his approval!

And what would be wrong with giving a decent annual living wage (not less than $2,500 at present cost of living) and Social Security? A labor government could easily obtain that as a minimum for the workers in the richest land on the face of the earth.

Coughlin Favors Regimentation of Labor

The industrial barons have long been struggling to enact changes into the Wagner Act which would benefit them. Coughlin backs up the changes they want. There must be “no conflict” between labor and the employers, Coughlin says. “National unity” is what he wants.

“Make the United States Department of Labor a real power. Let it take over the functions of collective bargaining – the functions which the American Federation of Labor is now trying to fulfill. Let it supplant the A.F. of L. entirely.” (Interview published in the Detroit Times, October 10, 1934)

Does this sound like giving labor the right to organize? What Coughlin advocates in the quotation above is exactly what Mussolini and Hitler advocated and what they put into effect.

Concentration camps, forced labor, prisons, starvation, endless hours for labor – this is what Father Coughlin’s plan means.

Father Coughlin Favors War

Father Coughlin claims that he is opposed to war. But close attention to his words shows that he is opposed only to war against Germany and Italy at the present time. And even on this point he will shift quickly enough when the war actually breaks. He supported Roosevelt’s war program once before. It will not be difficult for him to flop back again during the war hysteria and cry sternly over his network: “Roosevelt’s War or Ruin!”

There is no dearth of statements he has made on this point too, disclosing his real views.

On January 19, 1930, in the discourse entitled Christ or the Red Fog, Coughlin attacked a Milwaukee students’ conference for adopting a resolution opposing war. He condemned the students because:

“They are unwilling to assist in building up a better navy and a stronger army to protect a country where Christ is still a King.” (Father Charles E. Coughlin, p. 68)

Coughlin is not less devoted to capitalism and private property than Roosevelt. iHe too wants a big navy and a big army. He too wants unemployed youth marching behind bayonets.

The Fine Art of Jew-Baiting

So incensed are the American workers at the unparalleled brutality with which Hitler has persecuted the Jews, and so great has been the wave of sympathy for them that Coughlin has attempted to deny that he is a Jew-baiter.

“We disavow all participation with those who hate Jews because they are Jews ...” (Social Justice, May 1, 1939)

“If and when anti-Semitism shows its ugly head here, I shall be the first, without hope of receiving reward to condemn it both by voice and deed.” (Reprinted in Social Justice, May 1, 1939)

But a fascist movement if it is to be successful must have a scapegoat on whom the frenzied masses can vent their rage in place of the capitalists who deserve it. (Naturally the capitalists pay well for this service.) And so Coughlin too must have a scapegoat. Coughlin like Hitler and Mussolini has selected the Jew for his scapegoat.

In order to maintain that he is not anti-Semitic, he divides Jews into two categories. Five per cent of them are religious, he postulates. This five per cent he favors – and if they are ever persecuted, he declares, you will find him in their front ranks! The other ninety-five per cent, he says, are not religious. They are communists, socialists, atheists, international bankers, and dealers in gold. In fact Father Coughlin does not pause at words far more lurid than these in marking the Jews for victims on the reeking altar of capitalism.

At the very height of Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, when the whole world watched horrified, and even reactionaries scurried to place themselves on record as opposing this persecution, Father Coughlin defended Hitler’s bloody pogrom and attacked the Jewish victims. (Radio speech, November 20, 1938)

Social Justice from one end to the other is crammed with insinuations and innuendos attacking the Jews. In issue after issue, Coughlin published the infamous Protocol of the Elders of Zion, which was proved a vile forgery years ago.

In the December 19, 1938, issue of Social Justice, Coughlin attempted with the following lurid allegation to blacken the Chinese who have been defending themselves against the attack of Japanese imperialism:

“Abraham Cohen, who has been variously known as General Ma and General Moi Sha, is the power behind the Nationalist government.”

Even if it were true, there would be nothing wrong in a Jew fighting with the Chinese against the oppressing Japanese armies. But not even Japanese propaganda claims that such a person exists.

Outside his editorial page, Coughlin does not pay the slightest attention to differentiating the religious Jews from the ones HE thinks are non-religious. They are ALL Jews in the news articles.

For example, in the issue of Social Justice for June 5, 1939, he attacks Leslie Hore Belisha as “the only Jewish member of the British cabinet.” (Who certainly as Minister of War is devoted to capitalism, and cannot be dubbed a “communist” by the wildest stretch of the term.)

“Dissatisfaction within the British Army over the fact that England’s military arm is led by a Jew, fed by a Jew, and now clad by a Jew, despite severe censorship to hush the matter,” the article asserts.

In his fantastic efforts to prove that there is an “international plot of Jewry” to enslave the world, Coughlin stops at no lie or distortion of the truth. That is one of the things he must accomplish: construct a hook-nosed wolf with golden fangs and label it JEW, if he is to succeed in becoming Fascist Dictator of America.

With all the deliberate intent of a fascist demagogue who knows exactly what he is about, Coughlin has charted the moves which he hopes will bring him to power.

What does Father Coughlin hope to accomplish by his Jew-baiting?

Split the labor movement into warring camps.

Hack and chop these camps into splintered bits.

Grind these bits into dust.

That is the purpose of Jew-baiting.

First the Jews, then the militants, then the trade-unions, each in turn will be sucked into the ravenous maw of American fascism; each of them tagged: “agent of international Socialist Jewry.”

That is the purpose of Jew-baiting!

(To be continued in next issue)


Last updated on: 12 March 2016