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Full text of "American fascism"

1. 



AMERICAN FASCISM. 
TAU BETA PI INITIATION THESIS. 
J. ROBERT ESHER, JR. 



2. 



SUMMARY. 

In the past, events have occurred, the study of 
which has led this writer to believe that if we are not 
careful we may some day become a Fascist nation. I cite 
examples of a latent spirit of Fascism and warn the reader 
to beware of intolerance and other characteristics of that 
despieed form of government* 



We are now engaged in the greatest war of all 
times* We are fighting this war for the avowed purpose of 
exterminating that font of government known as Fascism. I 
dont believe that any decent American has any doubts con- 
cerning the necessity of winning this war. we must win and 
we will win. 

But there ie another and much older war against 
Fascism which we have fought and must continue to fight* 
The Fascism being combat ted in this older war is not sym- 
bolized by the faeces or the swastika nor is it imported 
from Furope or Japanj it is not even formally organized. 
It is a homegrown, native-American variety which only too 
often chooses for its emblem the American flag. It takes 
the form of nativism or nationalism invariably disguised as 
patriotism, of unwillingness to listen to the other side of 
an argument, of occasional mob violence rather than resort to 
the orderly processes of the law, and of the dozens of those 
little prejudices we all uave. Most of all it takes the form 
of a quick willingness to condemn the one who does not con- 
form to the pattern of those about him* (NOTF) These charact- 
eristics of American Fascism can be compared with those of the 
German variety listed in Propaganda and Dictatorship , Article 1 
edited by Harwood L. Childs, published Princeton University 
Press, 1936. 

Although traces of a Fascist spirit are found in the 
religious intolerance of the earliest American colonies it must 
be remembered that this wag an intolerant age. Tne ideas of 



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William Penn and Roger Williams on religious freedom and of 
John Locke on political freedom had not yet begun to circulate. 
v.e must, in all fairness, disregard these early Fascist 
tendencies for this reason, of much greater concern to us, 
however, is a series of happenings which occurred near the 
middle of the 19th century. 

During the third and fourth decades of the 19th 
century the immigration of Irish began. These people at 
once made themselves unpopular with labor by being willing 
to work for low wages. Later, as they became organised and 
acquired political power, they became unpopular with the 
moneyed class. A dislike for a people brings a dislike for 
their religion and soon all Roman Chtholics, natives or 
immigrants alike, weie distrusted. In 1840 anti-Catholic 
rioting broke out in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. 
Soon thereafter the Native American Party was formed for the 
purpose of restricting immigration. The Mexican War diverted 
the interest of the people before the Party could acquire 
much power. 

After the war nativism again appeared with the form- 
ation of the United Order of Americans. This organization grew 
and absorbed such groups as the American Brotherhood , the 
United Daughters of America? Sons o_f Amer ica^ and The Order of 
the sta r spangled Banner * Shortly thereafter the combined 
organisations entered politics and were known as the Know 
Nothings. 

The characters of the parents can be known from the 



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character of the child and the character of the Know Not hinge 
was black indeed. Two of the membership requirements of the 
party are especially interesting. They were that a member of 
the party must always vote as the party officers instructed 
him to, and that no person shall be admitted to membership 
who has any family connect! . n with t e Homan Catholic rel- 
igion, one can well imagine what sort of things the parent 
organizations, flaunting such patriotic names, must have been. 
The Know Nothing party acquired considerable power but soon 
made some serious political mistakes and disintegrated. 

The story of intolerance could be con inued in this 
way almost indefinitely. Negro persecution in the South, the 
public hysteria during tae first World War, the post-war 
"professional patriots" and tiie followers of Coughlin, Pelley, 
Winrod, et. al, today are more examples of a spirit here at 
home that thinking Americans must do all they can to quell. 



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BIBLIOGRAPHY. 



Channing. A History of the United States, Macinillan, 
New York, 1936. 

Childs, Pro paganda and Dictat orship, Princeton Univ- 
ersity Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1936. 

Hapgood, P rof essi onal Pa t ri o t s ,_ Boni, New York, 1928. 

Hicks. The Federal union, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 



Parker. 



1937. 

Recent America, Crowell, New York, 19 41.