Joseph Hansen

Father Coughlin: Fascist Demagogue

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

(June 1939)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 45, 27 June 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
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 V

Father Coughlin, Speculator and Stockholder

When Coughlin was supporting Roosevelt and the New Deal during the honeymoon first term, he pronounced a series of discourses over the air on the silver question.

The burden of these speeches was, briefly, that to save the forgotten man, increase world trade, give everybody a job, and “thaw out money,” it was necessary only to raise the price of silver.

“The restoration of silver to its proper value is of Christian concern. I send you a call for the mobilization of all Christianity against the god of gold.” (Quoted in the Churchman, June 1939)

Eventually Roosevelt did raise the price of silver.

And then Secretary of the Treasury, Morgenthau revealed in April 1934 that the largest holder of silver futures in the state of Michigan was one Amy Collins, secretary to Father Coughlin.

She held 500,000 ounces, costing 40 cents an ounce at the time of purchase, but purchased at 10 per cent margin, or $20,000. Every time silver went up 1 cent it meant $5,000 profit for the holder of the 500,000 ounces.

On an investment of $20,000, Coughlin made 500 PER CENT PROFIT.

It was this revelation of his silver speculations which turned Coughlin so savagely against Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau. Even the Bund since then curses Morgenthau regularly in its ritual. Not long afterward, Coughlin switched his support from President Roosevelt to William Lemke.

In 1935 the Detroit Free Press revealed in a series of articles that in 1929 and 1930 Father Coughlin had speculated in stock of the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Co. and the Packard Motor Car Co., that in one transaction alone he paid as much as $30,110.89 for Kelsey-Hayes stock and lost nearly $14,000 in another venture. The Free Press also revealed that Coughlin manipulated three bank accounts, one in the name of C.E. Coughlin, one in the name of the Radio League of the Little Flower, and a third in the name of Ste. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish, and that he used these funds for speculative purposes.

Father Coughlin’s interest in the stock of certain automobile companies sheds an intensely illuminating light on his early ventures into the labor field.

Father Coughlin, Labor Hater

Besides having his printing done in a non-union shop, Father Coughlin constructed his million dollar Shrine of the Little Flower by hiring an open-shop contractor who paid his men 25 to 40 per cent below trade union rates. In this way Coughlin showed what he means by a “living annual wage”!

As a result, the A.F. of L. at its 1934 convention at San Francisco unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Coughlin for his anti-labor policies.

Father Coughlin favors the company union:

“Had the motor manufacturers been in the least intelligent, they would have helped to organize a friendly and efficient union years ago.” (Eight Lectures, p. 125)

Father Coughlin is opposed to strikes (exactly the way Hitler and Mussolini are opposed to strikes!):

“The National Union for Social Justice contends that strikes and lockouts are absolutely unnecessary.” (Sermon, December 2, 1934)

In 1935 a semi-company union, the Automotive Industrial Workers of Amerca, was organized. It was known as the “Coughlin union” because of the blessing Coughlin gave it.

It was organized in order to prevent the formation of a real fighting union which would gain better conditions, better wages, and shorter hours for the workers.

But the “Coughlin union” despite its blessing, decided to strike against the intolerable conditions in the Motor Products Co. and downed tools on November 15, 1935.

In the vicious strike-breaking campaign that followed, the strikers asked Father Coughlin for help.

He REFUSED to see their delegation. He refused to broadcast in their behalf. He refused to speak a single word in their cause.

Let it not be forgotten, that many of the leaders of this strike were members of Father Coughlin’s organisation, the National Union for Social Justice.

The police, the armed scabs, the organized company terror – these, combined with the Judas kiss of Father Coughlin, broke the strike.

Yes, Coughlin promises many beautiful things to the oppressed, but when the crucial moment comes, he is the first to plant the dagger in their backs.

Since the formation of the C.I.O. Coughlin has assailed it venomously and incessantly.

When Governor A.B. Chandler of Kentucky ordered President Roosevelt’s National Guard down to Harlan County with orders to shoot to kill if necessary to break the strike, Coughlin whitewashed the coal operators who have been notorious throughout the nation for half a century as one of the most tyrannical, bloody, and violent sections of the boss class.

“The Union Leaders Made Troops Necessary.” (Social Justice, June 5, 1939, p. 21, headline to article on Harlan)

“To guarantee the men their right to work, Governor Chandler found it necessary to call out nearly 1,000 National Guard troops to stand guard over the mines ... Lewis defied the forces of law and order in Harlan County, Ky., where Governor Chandler said that 75 per cent of the mine workers desired to work, despite Lewis’ command that they continue in idleness. The cry of revolt (against Lewis) was heard in other sections sickened by Lewis’ one-man rule over their jobs, homes, and happiness.” (Social Justice, May 22, 1939)

The coal operators, who are also the county officials, openly admitted that THEY sent for the troops to break the strike.

As a propagandist able and willing to paint up violence, terror, and intimidation of the bosses with the gentle colors of the lily, Coughlin has no equal – in America.

The Memorial Day massacre, in which Republic Steel Corporation shot down, unarmed workers in the back is blamed by Father Coughlin on the workers. He characterizes the massacre as a “bloody riot” and asserts that it will be easy for the Republic Steel Corporation to “prove to any jury that it cost them” the $7,500,000 for which they are suing the workers they attacked. (Editorial in Social Justice, June 5, 1939.)

The editorial continues with a vicious attack on the C.I.O. To Father Coughlin any militant worker is a “red,” a “socialist,” a conspirator in the ring of “international Jewry.”

When he retired “forever” from the air and public life in 1936, he returned in less than two months, January 1, 1937, with an attack on thousands of striking General Motors workers.

His civil liberties record is no better than his labor record.

In the March 13, 1939, issue of Social Justice, for example, he opposes anti-lynching legislation.

In the December 19, 1938, issue, he attacks the LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee, which exposed the million dollar labor spy racket and the widespread use by powerful corporations of thugs, machine guns, poison gas, intimidation, terror, and violence against their workers.

Father Coughlin does not like investigations or exposures such as those conducted by the LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee.

Let the fools and the suckers bite at the gaudily feathered hook Father Coughlin dangles! Labor’s right to organize? Father Coughlin believes in it the same way Tom Girdler and Henry Ford and the Harlan County coal operators do. Just let the workers dare to carry a card in a genuine union! There are ways of changing those workers’ minds – Memorial day Massacres, multi-million dollar damage suits, rifles and bayonets of the National Guard, a spray of machine gun slugs in the back ...

(To be continued in next issue)


Last updated on: 12 March 2016