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Shirley Lawrence

Nationalist Cells in New York

(1 October 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 40, 1 October 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Nationalists, who are organizing to revive and unite the native American fascist movement, held a meeting on September 5 at the Hotel Empire in New York City, typical of hundreds which are occurring throughout the country at an accelerated pace since the war ended.

It was the first attempt in New York to organize prewar America Firsters, Bundists, isolationists, anti-Semites, Negro-haters, reactionary elements of the pension-planners, money cranks, fundamentalists and labor-baiters, under the banner of former Senator Robert R. Reynolds’ American Nationalist Party, with the goal of establishing a totalitarian fascist state in America.

Cell Organization

Plans were laid for use of the ten-person “cell” technique devised by Reynolds in his Chicago and Detroit organizations to guard against the enrollment of “unsympathetic” individuals into the party. Those at the meeting, mostly women, were instructed each to organize a “cell” of ten “trusted friends,” then to instruct each of the cell members to go forth and organize his or her own little group.

The purpose of the meeting was to lay down the Nationalist propaganda line for the post-war period now that wartime handicaps to fascist utterances have been removed.

Present at the meeting were at least three people now under indictment for sedition. The roster of speakers read like part of “Who’s Who” list of American fascism. There was Colonel Eugene Sanctuary, Jew-baiter, still under indictment, who had definite connections with the American National-Socialist League in New York and with other pro-Nazi outfits.

There was Elmer Elmhurst, Bundist, also awaiting trial and also held in high esteem by the Nazi hierarchy of America.

There were minor characters like John G. Scott, editor of Money, a newspaper dedicated to “a Christian America”; Hudson de Priest, hate writer and seditionist; Charles Smith, Queens Nationalist and party chairman, and Stephen Sylvester, Kings County leader.

Chairman of the meeting was Joseph Nelligen, New York State chairman of the Nationalist Party, whose mail address was given as care of the Daily News, 700 Pacific Street, Brooklyn. He pleaded for money to set up a state headquarters in New York City and supported his plea with a letter from Reynolds saying that “The party had been forced to mark time until the war was over, but now was the the time to push full speed ahead, organizing for the 1946 congressional election.”

The party platform, on which it aims to elect representatives to Congress in 1946, is designed as a catch-all to combine the mongrel fascist groups. Its catchlines include: “America for Americans,” “Deport the Jews and Negroes,” “End Immigration into the U.S.,” “Dissolve the present economic system and adopt that of the Congress of Monetaty Organization” (a crackpot outfit which recently met in Detroit) and “Bring Home the Boys.”

This is all too reminiscent of the old fascist technique: promise pie in the sky, denounce the labor movement, slander the Jews, bait the Negroes, exploit the resentment of millions made jobless by war cutbacks and capitalize politically on the emotions of the gold-star families.

The stories to be released as “authentic” news intend to show that the Jewish international bankers and movie moguls set up scientific private espionage agencies to spy on nationally prominent isolationists to frustrate efforts to “keep us out of the war.” This propaganda offensive is merely part of the strategy prepared by the Nationalists as the first step in their revival.

The literature distributed at the meeting specifically quotes the Daily News (their big-time press) as approving their aims in the following editorial words: “For our part, the boys can’t come home and form a Nationalist Party too soon.” This was cited as proof of a “nationalistic trend.”

The announcement that Upton Close, the Hearst writer and former radio commentator, was organizing a third nationalist party (Reynold’s “Nationalists” and Gerald L.K. Smith’s America Firsters are the other two) caused some consternation until it was explained that it was Close’s intention to unite his gang with the others.

Hitleresque Methods

The pious words of these fascists should fool no one. Hitler too promised everything to everybody, denounced the Jews and accused them of leading Germany into the First World War. Hitler was laughed at but condoned.

The aim of these fascists is to “divide and conquer.” It would be decidedly dangerous to dismiss them as mere crackpots. It was said about Hitler that he would not last, but look at the chaos he left behind him!

Organized labor and all anti-fascists must build a broad united front of action and militantly oppose the Nationalists and their satellites, must oppose the vicious lies and hatreds to which the fascists are dedicated. The Nationalists are attempting to unite all of the dissident fascist sects into one party and are bidding for congressional seats. The working class must organize its own independent Labor Party to combat their propaganda effectively and launch a program of its own with demands embodying the real needs of the people.

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