Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Father Coughlin - Msgr Hawks - Tea with Franco, Hitler and Mussolini

Father Coughlin

One of the things that kept the various American Fascist groups in the late 1930s and into 1940, 41 from succeeding was that the only thing they had in common was their anti-Semitism.  

The various German, Italian, Ukrainian fascist groups would not unite over and above ethnic identity and so too the Ku Klux Klan and other Protestant fronts would not unite with groups like America First and definitely not with the Catholic fronts like the Christian Front or Father Coughlin’s National Union for Social Justice.

National Union for Social Justice founded in 1934, spawning Social Justice Magazine in 1936.

Christian Front – bastard child of Coughlin’s inspired radio messages.

The Christian Front was founded in November 1938 in response to the prompting of radio priest Charles Coughlin, who had called for a "crusade against the anti-Christian forces of the Red Revolution" in the May 23, 1938, edition of his newspaper, Social Justice.[1] Its membership numbered several thousand and consisted mostly of Irish-Americans in the New York City area. They sold Social Justice, organized boycotts of Jewish businesses, and held parades and rallies. They made no distinction between "Reds" and Jews.[2] Their rallies welcomed attendees from like-minded organizations like the German American Bund, and Crusaders for Americanism. They heard speakers denounce Jews as international bankers, war mongers, and communists, mock President Roosevelt as Rosenvelt, and praise Franco and Hitler.[3] Bishop Fulton J. Sheen backed the Front.[4]The Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, Thomas Molloy was a prominent supporter and his diocesan newspaper, the Tablet once addressed the charge that the Christian Front was anti-Semitic: "Well what of it? Just what law was violated?"[5]
The Front also targeted organized labor and tried to replace union officials, deemed too radical or Jewish, with "Christian leadership".

When the war came, the FBI rounded up about 3,000 of the worst agitators of these foreign and domestic funded groups and locked their heineys up in detention camps etc. for further processing and interrogations. (eternal shades of Gitmo) (no priests rounded up at that time that I know of)

The present  Catholic Front, Religious Liberty Front, Fortnight of Freedom Front does not outwardly advocate the same anti-Semitism of  1930s America as much as they advocate veiled racism, misogyny and anti-gay hatred. They of course feel comfortable these days hanging out with the Mormons, John Birchers and Fundamentalist Right, though I don’t think those righties feel the same comfort having to hang with the papes.

In any case, the old game plan, game book from the 1930s works best on a purely money, power and greed basis regarding any temporary political alliances across diverse groupings of thugs.

Following through on the fascism of the Irish Parish of my youth, St. Joan of Arc Harrowgate, Philadelphia and the founding pastor, an Episcopalian priest turned papist, I have to reexamine some of the childhood myths I had constructed by word of mouth and set forth in some of my writing.

I had written a short story illustrating the anti-Semitism that existed in my old neighborhood before my birth via the oral history of a visitor to our house in my youth who had once lived in our house.

In that story I make a man I never met, Msgr. Hawks out to be some sort of hero in that he fought anti-Semitism in that neighborhood of the 1930s in his dealings with a local Jewish tailor. 

I was greatly shocked when I did further research recently to see that Msgr. Hawks had quite a track record amidst the fawning admirers and apologists for Franco, Hitler and Mussolini.

It comes on back of some recent comment from another writer about how all families have ghosts and or skeletons of things left unsaid over the decades and centuries of family histories.

I am thinking right now how oral tradition reached me from my father how his parents were regular listeners of the infamous Father Coughlin of fascist anti-Semitic radio fame of those turbulent late thirties and early forties in America.  

In fact I remember my father pointing out some rural site on one of our Sunday family drives in the country and can remember him describing the place as once having been a popular summertime picnic grounds for a local Bund group.  It went over my head at the time. I do have quite a memory and now that he is dead I cannot go back and ask for further details. Such is life.

But getting back to Msgr. Hawks at St. Joan of Arc.

I was rather amused at this passage from an online book regarding the right wing groups in Pennsylvania before mid-century.

Further research on the net is limited. Not much except that Father Brophy sounds like a Father Edward F. Brophy of the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Long Island City (Queens), NY.  I believe he was part of the Christian Front as well as the CDCR.

CDCR – Committee for Defense of Constitutional Rights - sounds like a Tea Bagger Party Front from modern day.

Thomas J. Blisard Jr. I cannot find any reference on the net to except a passage in a Marxist Socialist newspaper.

Agitation against the fascists right to meet at the Met Opera House on North Broad St., built by Oscar Hammerstein I, grandfather of Oscar II of Rogers and Hammerstein fame.  (Still standing in genteel decay.)

And Jew hating, communist hating baiting Bessie Burchett.

Bessie Rebecca Burchett Ph D. (born 1879) was the head of the department of foreign languages in the South Philadelphia High School for Girls. She wrote a book, Education for Destruction, documenting the communist infiltration of the Philadelphia public school system in the 1930s.

She earned the moniker "Two Gun" Bessie because she carried two pistols to defend herself. 

And the cultic Knights of Columbus Bund Fraternity organization. 

(No mention of any nasty Irish anti-Semitism there as part of that anti-Communism “Crusade” in their own propaganda. God bless their "charitible" hearts.)