Liberty Lobby: A Sinister and Cryptic Interest Group

In response to the Eisenhower Administration’s unwillingness to shift politics to the right, many conservative organizations formed. These included the publication National Review in 1955 as well as Americans for Constitutional Action and the John Birch Society in 1958. Another one formed was Liberty Lobby in response to a call for a new anti-communist group in 1957. Although the organization had people on its “Board of Policy”, there was one very clear leader of the group, and it wasn’t the organization’s official chair, Curtis B. Dall. Rather, the true head of the organization was the publicly quiet, unassuming treasurer Willis Carto.

Willis Carto, the mastermind of Liberty Lobby.

Willis Carto (1926-2015) was a busy man throughout his lifetime and formed many, many organizations with him in undisputed control of their operations. Liberty Lobby was the one that lasted the longest under his control and it had numerous figures on its Board of Policy, which by a read-through can give some major hints as to the purpose of the organization:

Curtis B. Dall, Chairman – A former son-in-law of FDR who reached the conclusion that he was being taken advantage of by bankers and wrote a book on the subject called “FDR: My Exploited Father-in-Law” in 1967. He believed that the Rothschild banking family was financing socialism and communism and claimed that Zionism was dedicated to “political and financial world domination”. Dall was also chair of the Constitution Party from 1960 to 1964.

Judge Thomas Pickens Brady – An Associate Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, he wrote a treatise on the intellectual and moral inferiority of blacks in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) called Black Monday and carried great influence in the state’s white citizens councils. Brady also called for the abolition of the NAACP and the admission of a state for blacks.

Taylor Caldwell – Novelist, wrote articles for the John Birch Society publication American Opinion and was one of the founders of the Conservative Party of New York.

Charles M. Cooke – Admiral, was an advisor to Chiang Kai-Shek before China’s fall to Communism.

Billy James Hargis – Minister, leader of the Christian Crusade organization. He was a staunch segregationist as well as an opponent of sex education and communism. Hargis was also a member of the John Birch Society. He lost influence among Christians after multiple allegations arose that he slept with his students at the American Christian College, male and female.

Charles S. Freeman – Vice-Admiral, was chairman of the Holy Land Christian Committee in New York, an anti-Semitic organization that was presumably for the purposes of aiding Arab refugees.

Dr. Kenneth Goff – A former communist and albino by birth, Goff became a Christian Identity Minister and in 1944 was chairman of the Christian Youth for America. He was also a Holocaust denier who made the following ridiculous claims in his 1954 book Hitler and the Twentieth Century Hoax:

  1. The Holocaust was a hoax.
  2. Hitler was a communist agent.
  3. Threw shade that Hitler was Jewish.
  4. Hitler is alive and will return to advance communism.

He also believed in the fluoridation conspiracy and that hippies and civil rights were part of a communist plot.

Joseph P. Kamp – Head of the Constitutional Educational League, an anti-communist organization. He ran into trouble with Congress for refusing to produce mailing lists for the House Lobby Investigating Committee, but he prevailed in court.

W.D. Malone – From what information I have been able to gather on him, Malone was an Alabama segregationist with ties to the state’s political leaders.

Verne P. Kaub -A Wisconsin journalist who claimed there was socialist and communist propaganda in American school curriculum.

Tyler Kent –  Kent was a diplomat posted to Britain in 1939 despite being suspected of engaging in espionage for the USSR. The following year he stole thousands of documents that he gave to a pro-German group for which his diplomatic immunity was revoked and he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. After the war he was a publisher of a Florida newspaper that was staunchly segregationist and had ties to the KKK. Kent believed that JFK was a communist and that he had been assassinated for straying from the party line.

R. Carter Pittman – Former Vice Chair of the Georgia Democratic Committee, a self-styled “constitutional scholar” who was rabidly opposed to desegregation.

Karl Prussion – A former communist who had been a member from 1933 to 1947, when he turned to the FBI. He gave inconsistent accounts about his time in the party and in 1961, he published his account of party meetings through a series of records titled “Inside A Communist Cell”. He attempted suicide in 1965, claiming communists were trying to kill him.

Richard Cotton – Wrote the publication “Conservative Viewpoint”, which was racist and anti-Semitic, having a conspiratorial emphasis. He was initially on the board of Liberty Lobby, but left due to conflicts with Carto.

Lucille Cardin Crain – Educator and conservative activist. She wrote a pamphlet in 1948, “Packaged Thinking for Women”, which criticized women’s movements as mouthpieces for left-wing propaganda.

Lt. General Pedro del Valle – The first Latino general in the United States Army, del Valle was in his later years an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who believed in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Major Arch E. Roberts – Assisted General Edwin Walker in distributing the ACA-Index of 1957-59 to soldiers to inform them of how best to vote.

Louis Francis – A former California Republican Assemblyman who represented San Mateo from 1957-1962.

Lt. General George E. Stratemeyer – Served in World Wars I, II, and the Korean War. He praised John Beaty’s book Iron Curtain Over America, which was a massive anti-Semitic diatribe that included Holocaust denial.

Dr. Charles Callan Tansill – Dr. Tansill was an academic who was staunchly non-interventionist prior to World War II and became an apologist for Hitler and Mussolini, trying to minimize their extensive crimes against humanity. Tansill was also a strong supporter of racial segregation and joined the John Birch Society.

During the 1960s, Liberty Lobby was able to pose as a conservative, patriotic interest group and attracted support from conservative representatives likely unaware of the real intent of the organization. Their January 1967 Board of Policy conference attracted conservative Congressmen George Hansen (R-Idaho), James McClure (R-Idaho), John Rarick (D-La.), James B. Utt (R-Calif.), and California Republican State Senator John G. Schmitz to speak on topics regarding limited federal government. The organization had also been praised for its lobbying activities by figures such as Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) and James Eastland (D-Miss.), the latter stating that “Carto is a great patriot doing a great service to all Americans” (Lee, 159). But Carto, it turns out, was an adherent of the writings of Francis Parker Yockey.

Carto’s Influence: Yockey

Yockey was a lawyer by profession and had served on the prosecutorial team for Nazi war criminals. However, his heart was not in his work, and he would later denounce the trials. In 1948, he wrote a book titled Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics. This was his self-styled “sequel” to Oswald Spengler’s highly influential The Decline of the West (1918, 1923), a pessimistic work that held that western culture would ultimately decline culturally and then in actuality and that a Caesar would be required to restore the culture. Yockey wanted to put Spengler’s words into action, advocating for a preservation of western culture through totalitarian means, and even went as far as to favor an alliance between the far left and far right to achieve such a purpose. He considered Adolf Hitler the “hero” of the 20th century and the Jews the villains. Although Yockey’s theme was of authoritarianism to counter cultural decline mirrored Spengler’s, it was contrary to Spengler in the sense that he viewed Nazi race theories with contempt. Yockey also pushed for alliances with Communist anti-Zionist governments and believed that Stalinism had value for purging Jews from Communism. He assisted Czech Communists in intelligence missions and sympathized with fascist and Nazi causes around the world. For a time, he worked for Gamal Nasser in his anti-Zionist propaganda department, which was headed by former Nazi propagandist Johann von Leers. Yockey would eventually be arrested in San Francisco in 1960 and commit suicide in custody. Unlike Yockey, however, Carto never reached out to communists but did reach out to Lyndon LaRouche leftists. Carto also had a different conception of race than him, as the former took a biological view while the latter took a spiritual view. Carto’s views on race went so far as for him to advocate the repatriation of blacks to Africa while it seems doubtful that Yockey would have taken up such a cause. However, both shared an affinity for Hitler and an antagonism to Jews.

Exposing Liberty Lobby and Downfall

The influence of his organization severely declined on Capitol Hill after a disgruntled former employee went to the press with documents indicating the true purpose of the organization. In 1969 journalists Joseph Trento and Joseph Spear published an expose, “How Nazi Nut Power Has Invaded Capitol Hill” in True magazine and in 1971 National Review published another one on Carto, which charged the organization with being a neofascist front and channeling funds to Lyndon LaRouche’s National Caucus of Labor Committees. In 1981, journalist Jack Anderson of the Washington Post published a comprehensive expose of the organization as a neo-Nazi front. In 1985, a long-running feud between Liberty Lobby and National Review concluded with a libel judgment against the former. The true intent of Liberty Lobby was to serve as an organizational springboard for white supremacist and neo-Nazi causes and to serve as the political engine when Carto felt the time was right for these groups to rise to power in the United States. Through its publication, The Spotlight, Liberty Lobby pushed rightist conspiracy theories with anti-Semitic and white supremacist undertones. Carto was also very committed to Holocaust denial and founded two organizations that had this as their central goal: Institute for Historical Review and The Barnes Review. Carto’s downfall came through his own practices. His management style was authoritarian and he insisted on complete control of operations, which led to conflicts that resulted in the breakdown of his control. In 1981, his white supremacist publication he had taken over in 1966, American Mercury, folded. In 1994, he lost control of IHR and white supremacist publishing firm Noontide Press, founding The Barnes Review in their place. Carto’s influence declined further, and in 2001 Liberty Lobby went bankrupt and The Spotlight folded with it. Carto pushed on with American Free Press, but he had lost relevance in what was already a tiny group of Americans. He died in 2015, concluding a long life dedicated to the spread of racial and religious bigotry.

Willis Carto was ultimately the most prolific post-World War II spreader of anti-Semitic and white supremacist propaganda in the United States and Liberty Lobby was his crowning and longest lasting organizational achievement.

References

Lee, M.A. (2000). The beast reawakens. New York, NY: Routledge.

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