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Shirley Lawrence

Home-Grown Fascism at Work in U.S.

(Part II)

(6 August 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 32, 6 August 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

While Reynolds and his representatives talk of achieving power by approved political means, others are now preparing for violence. An ex-convict Nationalist from Chicago, Homer Maertz, is going into Midwest communities organizing local hoodlums into a terrorist force. He also has frequent conferences in Detroit with leaders of the old Ku Klux Klan and the United Sons of America. He was a delegate to the first national convention of the America First Party, in Detroit Aug. 29, 1944, where he offered a resolution calling for the sterilization or deportation of all Jews in the United States.

It is noteworthy that in Germany armed gangs were trained by the industrialists to fight the organized workers, to weaken and subdue them. One such gang in Munich took the name National Socialist Party and from 1920 on hailed as its chief, Adolf Hitler.

Reynolds denies any connection with lawless elements, but Maertz is working closely with Smith, rabble-rouser par excellence, and photostatic evidence plainly reveals Smith’s collaboration with Reynolds.

Reynolds was well enough regarded in Germany to get an article under his byline in Hitler’s personal newspaper, Voelkischer Beobachter, which appeared in February 1939, six months before Hitler started the war. In part it said:

“I am happy to state without the least hesitation that I am absolutely against the U.S. waging war for the purpose of protecting Jews anywhere in the world.”

“Hitler and Mussolini have a date with destiny;it is foolish to oppose them, so why not play hall with them?”

Working with Smith

Sharing Reynolds leadership is the already mentioned Gerald L.K. Smith, founder of the America First Party, and idol of various“mothers’ groups, ” although Reynolds, contact man for the movement in government circles and society, denies he is collaborating with Smith, But Mr. Smith’s Washington headquarters are in Mr-Reynolds’ office in the Colorado Bldg.

Around Reynolds and Smith moves a ring of satellites, such as Carl Mote of Indianapolis, part owner of’ two small public utilities of the National Farmers Guild; Mrs. Lyn Clark Van Hyning of Chicago, head of We, the Mothers, and Mobilize for America, Inc.;Rev. Harvey Springer, a Denver rabble-rouser, who is called the Cowboy Preacher; and the Rev. Gerald Winrod, popularly known as the Jayhawk Nazi of Wichita, Kansas, who is under indictment for sedition. In 1935 Winrod toured Germany, had interviews with Hitler and other top German leaders, and began a full-scale pro-Nazi campaign on his return to this country.

The Nationalist groups tried unsuccessfully three times before to become a united political force, once under George E. Deatherage, who is under indictment for sedition; a second time in Father Coughlin’s heyday, and again with retired Army Gen. George Mosely as leader. Each time, the effort failed because the individual groups would not surrender their own rackets.

They Are Better Prepared

The Reynolds organization doesn’t intend to make any mistakes this time. It has a Nationalists Confederation, in which all groups can unite while retaining their autonomy. It also has a Nationalists Party for political action. A third division is the Nationalists Committee, an educational body to which industrialists are told they can make tax-exempt contributions.

The evidence clearly points to the growth of a fascist threat in the U.S. Reynolds and his cohorts are not fooling; they are in dead earnest. They are banding together all the worst elements of the country and are spawning the frauds, lies, and misconceptions which serve fascism.

The particular form of fascist “mystique” which prevailed in Germany and Italy, the cult of the Fatherland, and the cult of the Leader, are not likely to develop here. Up to now, pro-fascist leaders have taken care to present themselves as “just plain folks.” And the great varieties of nationalities over here, our geographical isolation, our relative prosperity, and higher living standards have made it so far impossible to arouse extreme nationalist feeling. The venom of American nationalism has been directed against regionalism rather than nationalism, i.e., on tension between city (New York especially) and the provinces.

Though there are differences in form, the content of American fascism is the same as that of Europe – big business interests masquerading, as anti-capitalism.

It is not enough to be shocked or to protest feebly and righteously. We must combat these gangs. The Workers Party picketed the recent Nationalist meetings in Los Angeles where Smith spoke. It showed what has to be done on a mass scale.

Prepare Labor’s Struggle

Labor should learn the lessons of the past decade. Its organizations are among the first to be uprooted under fascism. Wages were reduced in Germany, hours lengthened, and conditions considerably worsened immediately after Hitler came to power.

We must fight fascism with the consciousness that always, everywhere, it is financed by, and serves the interests of big business, that it is condoned by the government, and that labor is always the victim.

We must have a constructive and strong counter program. We need to form a labor party based on the trade unions, with its own Workers Defense Guards to be the vanguard in opposing the treachery and violence of the fascists.

The deepening economic crisis may be expected to make it easier for the fascists to unite. The same economic crisis that spurs big business to launch a fascist coup will also put the masses of people into a state of unrest, ready to follow whatever political path seems to promise an escape from their misery. We are already experiencing the first fruits of the end of the war in Europe, in cutbacks, layoffs, and unemployment. The workers must shake free of their present do-nothing leadership and prepare the struggle against reaction at home.

Fascism cannot be fought by compromise or concession, but only by militant working-class action.

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