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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Extremists Then

The names may change, but history always finds a way to echo into the present.

"At first glance Father Charles Coughlin, William Dudley Pelley, and Fritz Kuhn strike the observer as waste products of the Great Depression. There is a good deal of evidence that sustains this view. Essentially nonpolitical creatures, these men ignored normal channels for securing change and reform and preached a gospel of hatred and despair. Failing to clarifyt how they would lead their followers to power, the American countersubversives depended primarily upon self-avowed powers of charisma. Yet instead of galvanizing the faithful to action, their apocalyptic predictions and negative symbolism served only to sink their supporters into deeper apathy and alienation. For these men, protest became a matter of stylistic self-expression, not at all geared to the problem of persuading the masses. Indeed, although they claimed to be agents of destiny, Coughlin, Pelley, and Kuhn emerged as men who seemed to derive perverse delight from practicing the most brutal form of character assassination, disdaining common courtesies, and disregarding entirely the opinions of their adversaries." (p. 3)

From Geoffrey S. Smith To Save a Nation.

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