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Gerald Ford and the America First Committee


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Just read that Ford was a member of the anti-interventionist America First Group prior to World War II. In 1936 The Republican presidential Candidate was isolationist, but by 1940 the Republican pres. candidate was interventionist.

America First has interested me because it seems like people might have been attracted to it for very different reasons.

I came accross this in the historian Kevin Starr's book about the history of California from 1940-50, which is so far very interesting, and looks like it could be

promissing in terms of threads that might be woven into our understanding of the MIC.

Starr admits that there were a variety of different viewpoints within America First, but does not shy away from generalizing:

Founded in the spring of 1940 by a group of students at the Yale Law School that included future President Gerald Ford, future

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, and future Yale president Kingman Brewster, the chaiman of the Yale Daily News,

the America First movement soon developed into a nationwide organization attracting a variety of anti-interventionists. While

the movementincluded such a liberal figure as New Republic counist John Flynn, the basic membership and certainly the

leadership of America First was soon dominated by Midwestern Republicans of wealth. Its acting chairman was General

Robert Wood, chairman of the board of Sears, Roebuck in Chicago. Here was no fringe group.

Later, of course, Lindgergh joined.

Wondered if any other figures related to the Kennedy Assassination were associated with America First. There may be some ideological common ground here with figures in what later became known as the "China Lobby" who favored American unilateralism, and direct US action in Asia and Latin America as distinct from the multilatteralists who favored working via the UN and World Bank.

Anyway, like I say I found it interesting that Ford was a member of this group.

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http://spitfirelist.com/Books/books.html[/url] for a range of books for complete pdf format download. Specifically "Undercover" which extensilvely details the birth of the Isolationists. In two parts, the second has the index.

in his summary: after Pearl Harbor, the isolationists lost a lot of the publics support, however, the hard core that Carlson had penetrated, chillingly tells of a new younger cadre that for the moment has gone deeper under cover, and his Book ends at 1943.

It's the connections from then into the 50's that has been hard to establish. There are some others like Ham Fish, and many last names which are interesting. Henry Ford, of course is there.

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John, thanks for the link.

Hope I am not diverting too much from the thread with the following link. It was only about five years ago that I learned of the many cartoons satarizing Ameria First done by Dr Seuss. (Actually, last summer I blew up the cartoon of the women sitting in the chair reading the story to the children and relabeled her Hillary '08 for a silly sign I was making against the Bush-Enabeling Democratic Party.)

Those who have not seen these before will enjoy a surprise. Dr. Seuss at the time worked for a NYC newspaper called PM.

http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/1aa/1aa291.htm

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John Roy Carlson was a very interesting character. His real name was Avedis Derounian. This rarely published photo below shows him as an under cover Arab.

He mixed with some interesting folk and in the chapter titled 'Gun Running' he mentions Labib Bey who connects to some people deep within U.S. Intel. I'm not 100% convinced Carlson knew who he was dealing with here.

The second attachment is Gerald L.K. Smith who by the way was with Huey Long when he was shot. Smith and Francis Townsend got behind Homer Rainey during his political push which meant they dealt with Rainey's campaign manager, one Malcolm Wallace.

James

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Just read that Ford was a member of the anti-interventionist America First Group prior to World War II. In 1936 The Republican presidential Candidate was isolationist, but by 1940 the Republican pres. candidate was interventionist.

America First has interested me because it seems like people might have been attracted to it for very different reasons.

I have been interested in the America First Committee (AFC) for sometime. Please find below an article about the group and biographies of its main members.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAfirstC.htm

It was a mixture of right and left wingers. For example it included those on the right like Robert E. Wood, John T. Flynn and Charles A. Lindbergh but also progressives such as Burton K. Wheeler, Hugh Johnson, Robert LaFollette Jr., Amos Pinchot, Hamilton Fish and Gerald Nye.

Another interesting JFK connection is that Amos Pinchot, father of Mary Pinchot Meyer, was a member. Pinchot helped to establish the Masses magazine in 1911 that was prosecuted and closed down during the First World War. He was a pacifist and helped shape Mary's politics. Some people believe that it was Mary's political influence on JFK that got them both murdered.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USApinchotA.htm

Take a look at the history of the Masses. It was a great magazine that employed the best artists, cartoonists and journalists working in the US during this period.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTmasses.htm

This is an interesting topic and deserves its own thread:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=9825

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John Roy Carlson was a very interesting character. His real name was Avedis Derounian. This rarely published photo below shows him as an under cover Arab.

He mixed with some interesting folk and in the chapter titled 'Gun Running' he mentions Labib Bey who connects to some people deep within U.S. Intel. I'm not 100% convinced Carlson knew who he was dealing with here.

The second attachment is Gerald L.K. Smith who by the way was with Huey Long when he was shot. Smith and Francis Townsend got behind Homer Rainey during his political push which meant they dealt with Rainey's campaign manager, one Malcolm Wallace.

James

James, thank you for the back ground.

"John Roy Carlson" = Avedis Derounian was an interesting character. Remarkably prescient, as his later book "Cairo to Damascus" showed:

http://www.zeek.net/books_04113.shtml

"Fortune magazine hired a man using the name John Roy Carlson to infiltrate pro-Nazi groups in America and report on their activities. His book Under Cover, published in 1943, was a bestseller; and his work alerted Americans to the true character of those fascist-leaning isolationists such as the America Firsters, who masqueraded as patriotic defenders of the American way of life. After the War, Carlson went to the Middle East, and in 1951 Knopf published his Cairo to Damascus. In that book, he showed how many key figures in the Arab effort to exterminate the newly-created State of Israel were escaped Nazis and other fascists who were continuing Hitler’s Final Solution on a new battlefield. He predicted (and this was at the start of the Cold War, in the chill of the McCarthy era) that Communism would not prove a mortal danger to America, but would itself be eclipsed and overcome by a more pernicious and deeply fascistic ideology, that of Muslim fanaticism. This has come to pass.

John Roy Carlson was the pen name of an Armenian immigrant named Avedis Derounian. His family survived the Genocide of 1915 and immigrated to America, settling in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan. I'm from Washington Heights, too, and I learned Armenian from a teacher at the Sunday school of the Holy Cross Church of Armenia on West 187th Street. In 1933 Derounian was one of hundreds attending the Divine Liturgy of Christmas at that that church when suddenly, in plain view of the worshippers, several men rushed up, seized, and disemboweled the celebrant, Archbishop Tourian. The grotesque murder was front-page news in the Times for weeks; and it was immediately established that the culprits were regional leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaks (“Confederates”). The latter are a political party whose original left-socialist leanings had given way to ultra-nationalism in the years following the Bolshevik conquest of Armenia. Through the 1930’s their paper Hayrenik, still published in Boston, praised Adolf Hitler and his racial policies; and the party's “Race Worship Society” marched in Boston. Two ARF leaders, Dro Kanayan and Garegin Nzhdeh, still heroes of the party, became officers of Hitler’s Wehrmacht, and their Armenian Legion participated in the North Caucasian campaign.

Derounian was horrified that fascist ideology and terrorism existed at all amongst a people that had itself been the victim of the world’s first genocide scarcely a generation earlier. In 1933 the question, “Can it happen here?” was answered for Armenians: it just did. He resolved to expose and fight fascism in all its guises, for the sake of the Armenian people and in defense of his beloved new country."

"One reason Lindbergh, or somebody like him, did not win in 1940 is that anti-fascists of many ethnic backgrounds united in this country to expose and fight an evil that, even though it threatened only some at first, spelled doom in the end for all. When I was a boy, I was told that a relative of mine by marriage, John Armstrong (a kinsman of General Custer), helped rip down the swastika flag from the Bremen when it was docked in New York harbor in 1935. John, the quiet blond publisher married to cousin Willa? Yes. He had not been much older than me when he did it. Richard Puette (Uncle Dick), son of a North Carolina family of Protestant preachers, organized sailors for the National Maritime Union, and volunteered for the dangerous Murmansk convoys to help our Soviet allies. When he and Aunt Sophie were blacklisted and nearly destitute, they often found a bag of food on their doorstep early in the morning: the gift of Finnish fishermen who said little but saw everything.

These are just small examples of how people fought fascism by uniting and organizing to fight for civil rights, fair wages and working conditions and to oppose fascist aggression, racism and antisemitism: in Nazi Germany, in invaded Ethiopia, in the American South, and in New York City. That struggle is not over: there’s a straight line from the genteel Nazism on that Wyoming ranch to the fag jokes to Prof. Harvey Mansfield of Harvard telling the Colorado legislature that gays are inherently criminal to Matt Shepard’s blood a year later on a Laramie fence to Samuel Huntington telling us who does and doesn't belong in America. The hellish core of Roth’s nightmare is this fear: We don't belong, and we are alone. Jews have been maneuvered into such isolation too often. Progressive movement politics in America, in the 1930's and the 1960's, united diverse groups under common causes. They became a bulwark against fascism here before the War; and after it they effected vast social change that liberated and benefited millions of the disfranchised and dispossessed. The Movement had more than its fair share of faults, but at its best, no one was alone."

Edited by John Dolva
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John T. Flynn is an interesting character. He started out on the left but ended up as a neo-fascist. Flynn became a freelance writer in 1923 and wrote for the New Republic, Harper's Magazine and Collier's Weekly. In 1932 he was a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt in his attempts to become president.

In February, 1934, Gerald Nye submitted a Senate Resolution calling for an investigation of the munitions industry by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Key Pittman of Nevada. Pittman disliked the idea and the resolution was referred to the Military Affairs Committee. It was eventually combined with one introduced earlier by Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan, who sought to take the profits out of war.

The Military Affairs Committee accepted the proposal and as well as Nye and Vandenberg, the Munitions Investigating Committee included James P. Pope of Idaho, Homer T. Bone of Washington, Joel B. Clark of Missouri, Walter F. George of Georgia and W. Warren Barbour of New Jersey. Flynn was appointed as an advisor and wrote most of the reports published by the committee.

Public hearings before the Munitions Investigating Committee began on 4th September, 1934. In the reports published by the committee it was claimed that there was a strong link between the American government's decision to enter the First World War and the lobbying of the the munitions industry. The committee was also highly critical of the nation's bankers. In a speech in 1936 Gerald Nye argued that "the record of facts makes it altogether fair to say that these bankers were in the heart and center of a system that made our going to war inevitable".

Flynn played an important role in the reports published by the Munitions Investigating Committee. He also became a leading figure in the mounting attacks on President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He particularly disliked the Social Security Act, National Labor Relations Act and the National Recovery Administration, an organization that Flynn described as "regimenting American life."

Flynn also became concerned about Roosevelt's foreign policy. In 1936 he described Roosevelt as "a born militarist" and argued that he would "do his best to entangle us" in an European war. Flynn also compared Roosevelt with Benito Mussolini and wrote: "We seem to be a long way off from the kind of Fascism which we behold in Italy today, but we are not so far from the kind of Fascism which Mussolini preached in Italy before he assumed power, and we are slowly approaching the conditions which made Fascism there possible."

In September 1940, Flynn helped establish the America First Committee (AFC). The America First National Committee included Flynn, Robert E. Wood and Charles A. Lindbergh. Supporters of the organization included Burton K. Wheeler, Hugh Johnson, Robert LaFollette Jr., Hamilton Fish and Gerald Nye.

The AFC soon became the most powerful isolationist group in the United States. The AFC had four main principles: (1) The United States must build an impregnable defense for America; (2) No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America; (3) American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European War; (4) "Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad.

Flynn played a major role in the organization's publicity campaigns. This included one advertisement that read: "The Last War Brought: Communism to Russia, Fascism to Italy, Nazism to Germany. What Will Another War Bring To America?"

Supporters of the America First Committee in the Senate attempted to defeat the administration's Lend Lease proposal. Gerald Nye, Burton K. Wheeler, Hugh Johnson, Robert LaFollette Jr., Henrik Shipstead, Homer T. Bone, James B. Clark, William Langer, and Arthur Capper, all voted against the measure but it was passed by 60 votes to 31.

The America First Committee influenced public opinion through publications and speeches and within a year had 450 local chapters and over 800,000 members. The AFC was dissolved four days after the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor on 7th December, 1941.

Flynn, like other former members of the AFC, was unpopular during the rest of the war. He lost even more support when he wrote a bitter attack on President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1944 pamphlet, The Truth About Pearl Harbor. This was followed by As We Go Marching, a book that accused Roosevelt of leading the nation towards fascism.

After the war Flynn had difficulty getting his work published. This included the article Why the Americans Did Not Take Berlin. In the article Flynn accused Roosevelt of promising Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference that the Red Army could take control of Eastern Europe.

In 1948 Flynn published The Roosevelt Myth. In the book Flynn claimed Roosevelt's New Deal had resulted in Communists joining the government. Flynn was now a leading figure in what became known as McCarthyism. His extreme right-wing views were expressed in a series of books claiming that the American Communist Party had penetrated the Democratic Party. This included The Road Ahead: America's Creeping Revolution (1949) and While You Slept (1951).

In his book The Lattimore Story (1953), Flynn attempted to expose "a conspiracy involving over four dozen writers, journalists, educators and high-ranking government officials - almost all Americans - to force the American State Department to betray China and Korea into the hands of the Communists.".

Flynn was a strong supporter of Joseph McCarthy and defended his tactics with the article, What is Senator McCarthy Really Trying to Do? Flynn argued that McCarthy was carrying out the important task of removing communists and socialists from government.

Flynn then made the serious mistake of attacking President Dwight Eisenhower. In an article entitled Phony War on Communism, Flynn complained that although Eisenhower was taking action in stopping the spread of communism in Europe, Asia and Africa, he was uninterested in domestic communist subversion. Flynn's objection to increased military spending isolated him from other Americans on the far right.

In 1955 Flynn began criticizing the United Nations. In one article he argued: We must rid this nation of the United Nations, which provides the communist conspiracy with a headquarters here on our own shores, and which actually makes it impossible for the United States to form its own decisions about its conduct and policies in Europe and Asia."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAflynnJT.htm

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During the mid to late 1950's, John Flynn had his supporters in Dallas. In 1954, he was presented by the Public Affairs Luncheon Club in the Chrystal Ballroom of the Baker Hotel. The event was planned by Gordon McLendon who also introduced him.

Flynn below.

James

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