One figure I have developed a morbid interest in is the late Willis Carto (1926-2015). It is astounding to me how many connections he formed throughout the right in his early years while concealing the dark purpose of establishing a right-wing dictatorship that would be both racist (Carto stood for segregation and deportation of blacks to Africa) and anti-Semitic (Jews were always his top target) as a matter of policy. In other words, Carto’s aims fit perfectly with what some on the American left think about the true aims of the American right. With the help of FBI files on him as well as his personal correspondence and several exposes, I will paint a picture of an extremist whose fundraising and advertising ability were formidable. This is an expansion from my July 24, 2019 dated post, “Liberty Lobby: A Sinister and Cryptic Interest Group”. I have found so much more since writing that post, and I’ve been meaning to write on it for some time.
From the beginning of his adulthood, Carto’s deep-seated prejudice was clear. Although one source I read said that Carto got his views from traveling across the country selling insurance, the truth is that they developed earlier. In his letter to conservative journalist Westbrook Pegler dated May 18, 1948, he inquired what his view was on blacks and went on to express the following sentiments on black people, “There is one thing I believe to be true which you have never stated directly or hinted strongly. Perhaps it is even too big for you. Maybye you do not know the truth of it. It is this: that the negro race in America is not entitled to share American liberties and privileges because they have not proved themselves worthy of them. I base the statement on their cowardly conduct in Italy with the 92nd Infantry Division, their failure to assert the rights denied them in America, and their racial history of cowardliness and servitude under dozens of other races” (Carto, 1948). Carto’s statements reveal an ignorance of acts and movements by black Americans to assert their rights denied them that had already existed by that time, including that the NAACP already existed, slave revolts, and black participation in the War of the Rebellion on the Union side. He also found any virtue or accomplishments black individuals possessed to be due to the influence of whites. I have seen no documentation that Pegler responded to this letter, although he and Carto would exchange letters in the future and Pegler would be receptive to his views on civil rights, despite his earlier having condemned the color line in baseball and comparing it to Nazi Germany.
Carto started with a four-year stint with Proctor & Gamble and in the months after he took a job as a Junior Clerk where he was fired for being authoritarian in his attitude to customers. He found a more suitable role as a bill collector for the Household Finance Corporation and started to focus his efforts on politics in San Francisco. In 1952, Carto registered as a Republican and sought to cultivate growth in the city’s Republican Party. He formed the organization Liberty & Property, Inc., which published the newsletter “Right” from 1955 to 1960 with the byline “A Monthly Bulletin Of, By and For The American Right Wing”. This publication’s contributors included Robert Kuttner, who wrote in support of racism and eugenics, and medieval English literature Professor Austin J. App, who had written for Conde McGinley’s anti-Semitic and racist journal Common Sense and would become one of the most prominent Holocaust deniers. Carto aimed to connect various groups of the right together, from fringe to mainstream, but towards his purposes. He wrote in support of segregation, opposition to the UN, and opposition to communism. Carto also established the American branch of “The Northern League”, a white supremacist organization based in Scotland. The book list of this group included titles such as “White America” and “Teutonic Unity” by white supremacist Earnest Sevier Cox, anti-Semite and scientific racist Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s “The Foundations of the 19th Century”, anthropologist and eugenicist Roger Pearson’s “Eugenics and Race”, Senator Theodore Bilbo’s pro-segregation book “Take Your Choice!”, and English professor John O. Beaty’s highly anti-Semitic “Iron Curtain over America”. The latter was one of Carto’s inspirations.
Carto would make contacts both on the mainstream right and with fringe movements. By 1955, many conservatives were disillusioned with President Eisenhower’s moderate course; they had long hoped for a ditching of the New Deal and were opposed to foreign economic aid. Instead, Eisenhower had in some cases merely limited growth and in others expanded it. That year, Carto formed Liberty Lobby and in its early years he managed to get numerous people who were known forces among conservatives on the Board of Policy. In 1956, Carto formed a temporary organization, SF Conservative Republicans, to enhance conservative presence at the Republican National Convention and expressed his preference for either Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, Senator William Jenner of Indiana, or Governor J. Bracken Lee of Utah to be the Republican nominee instead of Eisenhower (FBI file part 2, 34). However, Republican moderates had control over the 1956 convention and this showed in the platform produced by the Republican Party that year. In 1957, Carto left the Republican Party for the fringe right Constitution Party.
Liberty Lobby: Causes and Board of Policy
Liberty Lobby in 1959 for the first time actively pushed for legislation, and this was the Mason-Bailey Bill, sponsored by Representatives Noah Mason (R-Ill.) and Cleveland Bailey (D-W.V.), which would vest authority in the setting of flexible tariffs to the Tariff Commission, stripping the State Department of any authority, intended to raise tariffs. The lobbying was through the Trade Policy Committee, an arm of the Liberty Lobby umbrella that employed arch-protectionist former Senator George Malone (R-Nev.) as its research director. Literature from Liberty Lobby asserted, “A continuance of the present policy means these things:
(1) Probable defeat in war, for we will be isolated from our sources of raw materials by 600 Russian submarines known to be afloat.
(2) An increasing bleeding of American capital overseas and the closing of American factories as more and more businessmen transfer their plants abroad. This, while temporarily profitable for some businessmen, will irreparably cripple our domestic economy and national defense.
(3) Gradual, ever-tightening control over the economy and political structure of the Nation by a world super-authority heedless of the rights and needs of Americans.
(4) The steady lowering of the American standard of living to a common denominator with the rest of the world” (FBI file part 1, 32).
Carto opposed the admission of Hawaii in 1959, fearing a precedent would be established for the admission of island territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands and stated his belief that a Constitutional amendment was required for this to happen (U.S. Senate, 110). Unstated of course was his view that Hawaii admission was troublesome because it had many non-white inhabitants, although this was in truth not his foremost motivation in this case.
Easily Carto’s best decision during the 1960s was to hire W.B. Hicks as secretary, who had been an editor for the conservative publication Human Events. He served as the face of the organization before Congress while Carto ran other matters on the west coast. Hicks would be the person who would testify for or against legislation in Congress and he sought to make Liberty Lobby appeal to mainstream conservatives as much as possible. The most successful literature Liberty Lobby published was “LBJ: A Political Biography”, a pamphlet attacking Johnson with a large basis on J. Evetts Haley’s “A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power”. This resulted in a massive upsurge of subscriptions to Liberty Lobby’s monthly publication at the time, “Liberty Letter”.
Liberty Lobby also was opposed to all major civil rights legislation, the Great Society, and the 1967 consular treaty. Senator Karl Mundt (R-S.D.) led the fight against the treaty and courted Liberty Lobby’s support on the issue. Mundt and other foes saw the treaty as giving ground to the Soviets, but Liberty Lobby saw it as deliberate subversion. Indeed, Carto saw a shadowy world of conspiracies like his foremost inspiration, Francis Parker Yockey.
Francis Parker Yockey: Carto’s Strange Inspiration
During the 1930s, after a flirtation with communism, Yockey became attracted to fascism and had joined William Dudley Pelley’s fascist Silver Shirts organization by 1939. Not long after being drafted into the U.S. Army, he was medically discharged with a diagnosis of “dementia praecox, paranoid type”, which would today mean “paranoid schizophrenia” (Simonds). However, historian Richard B. Spence writes that he had faked mental illness to get out of the draft. Yockey would for a shorty time work as an attorney for the prosecution of Nazis, but he would quickly turn against the proceedings. He would write his “sequel” to Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West titled, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics while residing in Brittas Bay, Ireland, which he would dedicate “To the hero of the second world war”, which in his view was Adolf Hitler (Simonds). Yockey was deeply anti-American in outlook and in his view, the United States started going downhill with the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828. He asserted that after this, money conquered America, Jews took over money, and thus Jews took over America, and lamented, “The population of America only consists now of a bare majority that is indisputably American racially, spiritually, nationally. The other half consists of Negroes, Jews, unassimilated South-eastern Europeans, Mexicans, Chinese, Siamese, Levantines, Slavs, and indians” (Simonds). For Yockey, matters got even worse when FDR was elected president in 1932. Although an American by birth, Yockey was essentially a European nationalist and was willing to work with both fascists and communists against the postwar international order of western nations. He wanted a Red-Black coalition against the United States.
In 1960, Yockey would be arrested in San Francisco for holding multiple fraudulent passports, and one of the people to visit him in jail was Carto in the only meeting he had with his muse. Hours after his visit, Yockey consumed a cyanide pill that he had managed to keep hidden in his shoe. Although there has been speculation that Yockey was given the pill by Carto, it has not been proven. Carto himself would publicly state about Yockey on his passing, “Although I do not agree with all his ideas, I feel he was an authentic creative genius. I feel that those individuals who are responsible for driving him to his death should feel a great sense of guilt. The world has lost a great man whose ideas will be remembered until Western Civilization is exterminated” (Simonds). He thought of Yockey as a figure persecuted by the U.S. government and the Anti-Defamation League, the latter being Carto’s lifelong bête noire.
Correspondence with William F. Buckley Jr. and Involvement with the John Birch Society
Willis Carto had correspondence at different times with many different people, and they are interesting reads. His “Right” publication had written about the establishment of National Review in its October 1, 1955 paper, “In an interview over State of the Nation on October 9, William F. Buckley Jr., brilliant young author, stated that a new 32-page weekly publication, of which he will be editor and publisher, is to appear on November 1. The name of the magazine is to be the “National Review”. Mr. Buckley stated that he believes that the liberals should be taken seriously in their unctuous protestations that “all opinions” on public questions should be heard and therefore the “National Review” is being initiated. “There is one point of view not being expressed in the country and that is the conservative right,” said Mr. Buckley” (Right).
Correspondence between Carto and Buckley occurred from 1955 to 1960 and from their letters you can see similarities and some crucial differences between them. While, like most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, Carto and Buckley were against interracial marriage, Carto objected to Buckley regarding black conservative George Schuyler and his mixed-race daughter Philippa Schuyler as conservatives in a September 29, 1960 dated letter. He held they couldn’t be thought of as conservatives as they embraced interracial relationships, and quotes Dr. E.L. Anderson (an alias for Carto himself) as justification for his views on what he calls “racial mongrelization” and dismisses any notion that blacks could write a document like the Constitution.
This was explicitly in response to Buckley’s letter to a Mr. Tully Brady of Mississippi defending his printing of an article from Philippa Schuyler on the Congo in National Review, writing “Philippa Schuyler wrote an excellent piece on the Congo which we were proud to print. It makes no difference to us that she is a half breed. It is not a part of the conservative position to blame on one person the faults of his parents. You will find that is the same position taken by those who wrote the Constitution of the United States” (Buckley, 1960). While Carto and Buckley agreed on support for the Mason-Bailey Bill to vest authority on flexible tariffs to the Tariff Commission, the former viewed it as good for being both a limitation on executive power and for protectionism, while the latter viewed it as only good for the former reason. Buckley’s motivations are also made explicit in his letter to Carto on National Review’s editorial positions, “In the realm of foreign affairs we believe that politically, and morally, the policy of appeasing the Soviet Union is suicidal. With respect to domestic affairs, the National Review contends that the New Deal contains within it the seeds of tyranny for it encourages the omnipotent state and belittles individual rights and preferences” (Buckley, 1955).
Buckley would later regard Carto and Liberty Lobby of what he regarded as the “irresponsible right” and the two would from then on be enemies.
In 1959, Willis Carto joined with the John Birch Society and was in communication with its president, Robert W. Welch. He contributed two short articles to American Opinion: “The Hundred-Year Hoax” which critiques the labor-capital division of Marxism, and “What’s Right in America”, in which he includes biological factors when describing groups opposed to Marxism. However, Carto soon split with Welch after the two had a dispute.
Some former politicians and even some contemporary ones were attracted to Liberty Lobby. As I mentioned earlier, he managed to get former Senator George W. Malone (R-Nev.) to work for his group under the Lobby’s umbrella pushing the Mason-Bailey bill, a proposal to limit the authority of the Executive on trade. On the Board of Policy, he managed to get former Rep. Kit Clardy (R-Mich.), who had in one term become known as “Michigan’s McCarthy” for the degree of his anti-Communist zeal and also had San Mateo’s former Assemblyman Louis Francis (R) who was known for promoting anti-communist legislation and in the early 1960s had J. Bracken Lee, at the time Salt Lake City’s mayor, on the board. He also got the elderly George W. Welsh, a former Republican lieutenant governor of Michigan and mayor of Grand Rapids to be on the 1965 Board of Policy. Reps. Bruce Alger (R-Tex.) and John Bell Williams (D-Miss.) would be involved with Liberty Lobby’s United Congressional Appeal to raise funds for conservative candidates.
Carto’s Aliases: Communicating His Message By Other Means
Willis Carto would not only write under his own name, but on several occasions wrote under aliases to communicate his message without having it being tied to him or to boost the credibility of what he was saying. He did the former when he wrote blatantly anti-Semitic screeds under the alias “The Patriot” in the late 1950s (for which the FBI investigated him) and the latter when he wrote under “Dr. E.L. Anderson”, who Carto claimed was a distinguished professor.
The Board of Policy and Pseudo-Populism
Carto attracted numerous people to the Board of Policy, including a few politicians. He also attracted numerous people in the military who harbored anti-Semitic views, such as Generals Pedro del Valle and George Stratemeyer as well as political activists who had worked for or supported notorious anti-Semite Gerald L.K. Smith (who praised Liberty Lobby), such as W.L. Foster of Oklahoma and Christian Identity minister Kenneth Goff. There were some that had more of a mainstream background, such as Stanley M. Andrews, a former aide to Senator Frank Lausche (D-Ohio) and head of Americans for National Security, Liberty Lobby’s arm for promoting national security issues.
Although Liberty Lobby’s literature insisted that no policy could be adopted by Liberty Lobby without the board’s approval, the significance of it was in truth never great. In 1963, the head of the Board, Curtis B. Dall, a former son-in-law of FDR, testified under oath before Congress that the board never once met and that Carto was “chief executive officer of Liberty Lobby and the main motivating individual in it” (Simonds). Although Dall was the nominal head of the board, he had no control over funds, that was all Carto. Dall was primarily a figurehead. The Board of Policy in truth served as much a function as the standard Board of Trustees of a company does…it rubber-stamps what the CEO wants. In 1964, the board was expanded from thirty to forty-five members and the new members were on the fascist end of politics. The people added were, and I shall include my description of them as well as Carto’s description of them through his writing of the 1965 Board of Policy list:
Ed Delaney – An American who broadcast Nazi propaganda through Radio Berlin directed at American audiences until Germany declared war on the United States. He was not tried for treason as it was never proven that he made any broadcasts after the declaration of war.
Carto’s version: “Imprisoned by the Reds at the end of World War II, this courageous journalist became a foremost expert on the Red rape of Eastern Europe. Columnist; radio commentator”.
Kenneth Goff – An acolyte of Minister Gerald L.K. Smith and former communist who testified before the Dies Committee, I wrote a bit about him in my Liberty Lobby post. In a March 5, 1961 letter Carto wrote that he wanted Goff to succeed him as head of Liberty Lobby should he unexpectedly die.
Carto’s version: “As a youth he was recruited into the Communist Party but quit in 1939 giving 140 pages of testimony to the Dies committee. Prolific writer, popular lecturer, Christian leader”.
Tyler Kent – I wrote a whole post on this man in December 2021.
Carto’s version: “An authentic American hero who was illegally sent to a British jail for trying to expose Roosevelt’s criminal war plans. Former publisher, writer, now a gentleman farmer who collects libel judgments as a hobby”.
Robert E. Kuttner – A biologist and eugenicist who wrote for Charles Lee Smith’s “The Truth Seeker” (which under Smith was racist and anti-Semitic) and for “Right” from 1958 to 1960. Kuttner also collaborated with Ezra Pound’s racist and anti-Semitic biographer Eustace Mullins on writings about “biopolitics” and described his own position as “scientific racism” (Jackson, 60-65). Not to be mistaken with contemporary economics journalist Robert Kuttner.
Carto’s description: “Professor, researcher, Creighton University. Past president, International Council as vice president and is adviser to other groups. Many scientific journals”.
W. Henry McFarland – Another acolyte of Minister Gerald L.K. Smith who ran the Nationalist Action League, which was deemed a fascist organization by the Attorney General. McFarland challenged Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania for the Republican nomination in 1964 and lost in a landslide.
Carto’s description: “Veteran anti-Communist writer and organizer. Founder, American Flag Committee, 1950. GOP primary opponent of Senator Hugh Scott, 1964”.
Ned Touchstone – Editor of The Councilor, a notorious segregationist who was deeply involved in White Citizens Councils.
Carto’s description: “This former newspaper publisher – the only American newsman to cover both Castro’s invasion of Havana and Bobby Kennedy’s invasion of Oxford – gave up a successful business to edit the Councilor”.
One of the few people who could influence Carto was his staff director, W.B. Hicks, who worked to make the organization have a presence in Washington. Carto realized that Hicks was a key figure to the organization’s presence and thus was willing to listen to him. In 1966, Liberty Lobby announced that the Board of Policy would be expanded to include anyone who contributed $1 a month. The organization even mailed voting cards to its members so they could vote to approve Liberty Lobby advocating for certain policies. However, this was subterfuge for Carto taking even more control: he would not even open the mail he received from this expanded Board of Policy (Simonds). One of Carto’s slogans was “Your Influence Counts…Use It!”, but in practice he only meant it for himself. He would portray himself in later days as a “Jeffersonian populist”, but he had no interest in giving the people any voice in practice out of fear that they would disagree with critical parts of his agenda. Carto also ran a publishing firm called Noontide Press, which published Imperium. On February 9, 1969, Hicks was killed in a boating accident, and Carto had no guard from going off the rails. One associate said about the situation, “When W.B. and I were there, it was possible for us to exercise a certain degree of influence on Carto, to keep him from going off the deep end. I realized when W.B. was killed that I couldn’t restrain Willis alone, to keep him from injecting his philosophy into the organization” (Simonds).
There was also an advocacy organization attached to Liberty Lobby for supporting Congressional campaigns, called United Congressional Appeal (UCA), which was run by former ultra-conservative Rep. Bruce Alger (R-Tex.) from 1968 to 1972 (he would stay on the Board of Advisers after), its purpose to be to push conservative Congressional candidates. Others on the board included anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis who led the push for Prop 13 in California, anti-sex education investigative reporter John Steinbacher, and Harry von Zell, radio announcer and actor. Others included people who were or had been on Liberty Lobby’s Board of Policy, such as chairman Curtis B. Dall, Glenn O. Young of American Adviser (a supporter of Oklahoma Governor William H. Murray), novelist Taylor Caldwell, and anti-feminist activist Lucille Cardin Crain. Whether these people ever met in one place is doubtful given how the Liberty Lobby Board of Policy never met. Another purpose written in a memorandum to oil billionaire H.L. Hunt dated May 31, 1971 was “To lay out a plan for White survival in the United States, suitable for present emergency conditions and which will at the same time form a foundation for the ultimate re-establishment of White political control” (Carto, 1971). This other purpose was not mentioned in literature encouraging fundraising for the group, which was directed at conservatives generally. Retired General Pedro del Valle, who believed that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was genuine, would take up the chairmanship of the UCA in 1976 until his death in 1978.
In 1975, Liberty Lobby began publishing a weekly newspaper titled The Spotlight. This paper opposed bankers and the IRS, pushed an “America First” perspective, promoted conspiracy theories (including about JFK), opposed the Gulf War, promoted quack medicine, featured some mainstream conservative articles, was anti-Israel, and had undertones of racism and anti-Semitism. The paper at first got significant subscribership and peaked at 315,000 in 1981, but had fallen to 90,000 by 1992 (George & Wilcox, 260). The true aims of Carto were reflected in the advertisements in the classifieds section for neo-Nazi groups and books. In 1984, Carto created the Populist Party in an effort to promote his positions and naturally The Spotlight strongly supported Olympic athlete Bob Richards’ candidacy in 1984 (he would later renounce Carto and the party) and David Duke’s candidacy through the Populist Party in 1988. Probably the greatest success the party had was managing to get Duke the Republican nomination for Louisiana governor in 1991. The Spotlight also supported Pat Buchanan’s efforts at the presidency.
Control of The American Mercury, 1966-1981
By the time Willis Carto acquired The American Mercury in 1966, the paper’s reputation had already gone to the dogs. The paper had been created by the great literary wit H.L. Mencken in 1924 and had featured the writings of many great intellectuals of the day, but the paper took a more distinctly political turn in the early 1950s under William Bradford Huie, who unsuccessfully tried to make it what National Review would become. Huie had to sell the paper, and he sold it to Russell Maguire, a machine-gun manufacturer who would shift the paper’s focus to conflating Judaism and communism. Carto would only go further in Maguire’s direction, having on the editorial staff John Mitchell Henshaw, who formerly worked for Drew Pearson, to write anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In one article, Henshaw would call for renaming the Kerner Commission to the “Ginsberg Commission” after its executive director (Simonds). He would also have veteran right-wing pamphleteer Joseph P. Kamp, also a member of Liberty Lobby’s Board of Policy, writing for the paper on matters surrounding Jews, such as “This Judeo-Christian Heritage Hoax”, against the idea of a shared Judeo-Christian heritage that he claimed was a myth promoted by the ADL and AJD (American Jewish Committee) (Simonds). In 1978, an article was published in American Mercury titled “Hitler – the Greatest Spenglerian”, praising Hitler as a European leader that the west should have sided with and dismissing claims of the Holocaust. The article has no author listed (Being “In the Mercury’s Opinion), but given its citing of Imperium, it was written by Carto. Carto would also control The Washington Observer, which would repeatedly feature anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and as an editorial practice identify Jews (Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns is identified as “Bernstein”, even though that was his wife’s maiden name), written by a “Lee Roberts”, most of the writing being done in truth by John Mitchell Henshaw (Simonds). The paper would shutter in 1981.
Youth For Wallace: Creation and Deterioration
In 1968, Carto founded Youth for Wallace, which was aimed at both being an advocacy group for the candidacy of George Wallace and at being a conservative answer to the left-wing college activist group Students for a Democratic Society. After Wallace’s defeat, the organization’s name was changed to the National Youth Alliance (NYA). On the board of this organization were academics Austin J. App and Revilo P. Oliver. Therefore, it is scarcely surprising that this group quickly degenerated into a neo-Nazi mess under its official director, Louis T. Byers, done with the not-so tacit approval of Carto himself. This became clear after the Pittsburgh meeting in 1969, in which after the meeting of the organization a party for Carto was thrown by the “Francis Parker Yockey Movement” with Colonel Dall in attendance in which guests were allegedly wearing Nazi insignia with Nazi war songs playing along with the singing of “Horst Wessel Lied” (Simonds). Themes would abound in speeches delivered afterwards that pointed towards fascism, anti-Semitism, and anti-black racism. According to C.H. Simonds (1971), “He spoke of his meeting with Yockey and how the movement was growing throughout the nation. He expressed his belief that political power, like he was building in Liberty Lobby, would soon bring the ‘Imperium’ of which all Yockeyites dream…In the meantime, it was necessary for Yockeyites to collect as much political power as possible within all existing political institutions and to capture the leadership of as many conservative elements as possible as the nation swings to the right. In this manner, said Carto, the FPYM members will capture the nation.
Next to the Jews, the most despised of all are the leaders of the legitimate Right like such as Bill Buckley Jr., John Ashbrook, Fulton Lewis III, ad infinitum [sic]. They, said Carto, are the real enemies of the Yockeyites. They are the principal obstacles to be overcome”.
Although there were some in the organization who had become alarmed at its direction and expressed as such to Carto, he acted dismissive. C.H. Simonds (1971) then reports what happened at a subsequent meeting, “The next day an election of officers took place, in which an ‘anti-Nazi’ slate header by Patrick Tifer, a pale, wispy boy from Michigan, won. During the voting, according to Sullivan, Carto delivered an impassioned plea for ‘unity’; when the voting continued to go against him, he threw a colossal tantrum. Sullivan says the meeting ended with the Tiferites believing they were now in control of NYA; as Pallone tells it, the Cartoites ignored the election results, ‘proposed that Imperium, a book which no one had read, be the guiding light of the NYA and broke up the meeting'”. A conflict subsequently developed when another authoritarian personality with interest in leadership, William Luther Pierce, joined the organization. Carto accused Pierce of stealing Liberty Lobby’s mailing list to use for his own purposes. In 1971, there was a major split, with many of the people from this organization joining Pierce’s National Alliance in 1974, which was openly neo-Nazi.
Connections with German Nazis
According to Carto’s biographer George Michael, he was even involved in the publication of some biographies of Nazis. Belgian collaborator Leon Degrelle and former Luftwaffe ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel published memoirs through his Noontide Press and in 1973 Carto and his wife even visited Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s favorite commando, at his Spanish villa. Otto-Ernst Remer, a Wehrmacht colonel who had played a critical role in stopping the July Plot, spoke at an Institute for Historical Review conference.
Other Allies: George Lincoln Rockwell, Black Nationalists, and Lyndon LaRouche
Willis Carto had some other unconventional ties for a man who wanted to portray himself as a respectable conservative publicly. He maintained some top-secret friendly correspondence with American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell during the 1960s (Novak). In 1974, Lyndon LaRouche, a left-wing conspiracy theorist who attempted to run for president claiming himself to be a “conservative Democrat” and who I will one day write about, was introduced to members of the KKK and Willis Carto. Both LaRouche and Carto also had mutual enemies in National Review and William F. Buckley Jr., and both saw Buckley as being a force for the CIA, which he had worked for for two years in the 1950s. After this meeting, he would add Jewish organizations to those forces that conspire to ail society. LaRouche would claim that Jewish groups were linked to the international drug trade, the production and dissemination of pornography, and international terrorism (Copulous). As a believer in racial separatism, Carto even decided to reach out to like-minded people of different races. He had exchanged correspondence with two black nationalists (Norwood & Pollack, 190).
Institute for Historical Review
In 1978, Carto, along with former National Front (a British fascist party) member David McCalden, formed the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a pseudo-scholarly organization to push Holocaust denial. Participants in the organization included Austin J. App, Tyler Kent, and Professor James J. Martin. As Richard J. Evans (2002) wrote about the group, “Like many individual Holocaust deniers, the Institute as a body denied that it was involved in Holocaust denial. It called this a ‘smear’ which was ‘completely at variance with the facts’ because ‘revisionist scholars’ such as Faurisson, Butz ‘and bestselling British historian David Irving acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed and otherwise perished during the Second World War as a direct and indirect result of the harsh anti-Jewish policies of Germany and its allies’. But the concession that a relatively small number of Jews were killed [has been] routinely used by Holocaust deniers to distract attention from the far more important fact of their refusal to admit that the figure ran into the millions, and that a large proportion of these victims were systematically murdered by gassing as well as by shooting” (151). The IHR has occasionally included revisionist articles on World War I from more mainstream historians, but this is for the purpose of furthering the narrative that Germany was a victim in global events.
In 1966 and 1967, columnist Drew Pearson wrote about Carto’s connections to neo-Nazis and some of the people who made up his board based on the reports of Jeremy Horne, a mainstream conservative who worked for Liberty Lobby and found some incriminating letters as to Carto’s racism and anti-Semitism. This report was naturally denied by Carto, who was normally eager to stay out of the spotlight. Indeed, Carto by outward appearances was unexceptional and he wanted to keep it that way and many on the right were inherently suspicious of Pearson’s reporting as he was prone to smear attacks on conservatives and was far from 100% in accuracy, so this wasn’t at first taken seriously. Pearson had discovered that Carto written to conservative Norris Holt of Sausalito, California that “There are six hundred million Chinese and about two hundred million Russians. All united in a determination to destroy the west. And we have been so misled that we live in a dream world – far away from reality. Hitler’s defeat was the defeat of Europe; and America. How could we have been so blind? The blame, it seems, must be laid at the door of the international Jews…If Satan himself with all his super-human genius and diabolical ingenuity at his command, had tried to create a permanent disintegration and force for the destruction of the nations, he could have done no better than to invent the Jews” (Pearson). Then in 1969, True magazine ran an expose on Carto, “How Nazi Nut Power has Invaded Capitol Hill” based on the account of a former employee that revealed deeply anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler private correspondence from him. In 1971, C.H. Simonds of National Review wrote another expose, this article being a significant source of this article.
Lawsuits and Carto’s Impact on American Law
Willis Carto on multiple occasions took people to court including Drew Pearson, William F. Buckley Jr., and Jack Anderson for claiming that he and Liberty Lobby promoted racism and anti-Semitism. E. Howard Hunt also sued The Spotlight for an article alleging that he was implicated in the assassination of JFK. The two lawsuits that had the most significant impacts on American law are as follows:
David McCalden had an idea…a terrible idea for the Institute for Historical Review to offer a $50,000 reward to anyone who could prove the authenticity of the Holocaust. This attracted the attention of Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz. He agreed to IHR’s offer and signed an affidavit that he had been an inmate at Auschwitz and witnessed gas chambers being used on Jews there. Naturally, IHR rejected this affidavit and Mermelstein was able to sue for breach of contract. In 1981, the judge ruled that the Holocaust was an “indisputable fact” (Mathews). McCalden that year left IHR over the fallout from the case. Four years later, the IHR was forced to pay the reward as well as extra for emotional suffering from the reward offer. IHR to this day continues to deny the Holocaust.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.
In this case, Liberty Lobby sued Jack Anderson for reporting that Liberty Lobby and Willis Carto were an anti-Semitic, fascist, and racist, and the result was a highly significant decision. The case Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. (1986) has become the single most cited decision in American law as using that case is a precedent for motions for summary judgment, a standard to decide that the facts of the case are present and thus a judgment can be rendered to end frivolous lawsuits (477 U.S. 242).
Willis Carto: “Little Hitler” and Losses
Carto learned nothing from his firing earlier in his career as his management style was dictatorial, and staff at Liberty Lobby, many who had joined in the belief that it was a conservative organization, called him “Little Hitler” behind his back and referred to his wife as “Eva Braun”. Carto at one time blew up at an employee for buying a bundle of paper clips and his reaction to problems with the new computer system likely caused by staff incompetence was to tighten security to the degree that employees could not leave their desks without permission. Matters got worse when in May 1970 all employees were forced to take lie detector tests in which they were asked if they had sabotaged the organization through contacts with the FBI or ADL and whether they’d committed embezzlement or stolen mailing lists (Simonds). Carto couldn’t even get along with other like-minded people…Revilo P. Oliver (an unpleasant figure himself) broke with him as did his neo-Nazi NYA chair Louis T. Byers.
Carto’s HR problems would also result in his loss of the Institute for Historical Review in 1994, after Mark Weber (its current head) and other employees kicked him out over a dispute on the bequeathing of around $10 million in the will of a grandniece of Thomas Edison. He immediately established in IHR’s place The Barnes Review, named after revisionist historian and Holocaust denier Harry Elmer Barnes, who I have written a whole post on. This outfit would too push Holocaust denial among other things and would also sell books, including of course Yockey’s Imperium and brought back into print Ralph Townsend’s 1933 indictment of Chinese culture, Ways That Are Dark, with a Carto introduction. In 2001, Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight shut down after Carto lost a lawsuit between IHR and him and was forced to declare bankruptcy. However, he quickly went ahead and founded American Free Press (AFP). Although AFP has always been very marginal, it did get disgraced former Congressman Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) to write for it. AFP also managed to secure an interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County on his anti-illegal immigration efforts.
Death and Concerns for Today
As the end approached, Carto found it ironic that because he served in World War II and was wounded by a Japanese sniper that he would be buried at Arlington Cemetery given that he acknowledged that he was “probably America’s biggest Hitler fan” (Novak). On October 26, 2015, he died, but some events that happened not long after his death would have probably pleased him. The increasingly conspiratorial tone among certain loud figures on the right due to InfoWars (among other fringe entities) contamination of conservative media sources in recent years as well as the rise of the alt-right phenomenon I see as manifestations of the politics of Carto. Indeed, the QAnon conspiracy theory, vaccination conspiracy theories, and the like are matters I could see coming out of The Spotlight in its day. Carto would have likely at least given support for the 2016 candidacy of Donald Trump as did David Duke, which would have been the first time he backed one of the major two-party nominees since Goldwater. This is not to say that the bulk of those who supported him in 2016 or 2020 were or are alt-right, but it is not unfair to say that Trump gave more room for such people along with other outsiders with his candidacy. Indeed, such folks made their showings to the public on August 11-12th, 2017 and January 6th, 2021. I see the alt-right as Carto-inspired and as a short-term threat to the United States and the good of its people, but as no more as they lack fundamental institutional supports in academia, the media, business, and government. The neo-Marxists, however, are a different story….
477 U.S. 242 (1986).
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Michael, G.J. (2008, October 25). Presentation on Willis Carto & the American Far Right. C-SPAN.
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Novak, M. (2016, July 7). FBI Releases File on Willis Carto, Neo-Nazi Recently Buried at Arlington. Gizmodo.
Pearson, D. (1967, February 17). Lobby Has Friends In High Places. Madera Tribune.
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Spence, R.B. (2020, December 31). Francis Parker Yockey: International Man of Mystery. The Great Courses.
Statement of Willis A. Carto, Secretary, Liberty Lobby, San Francisco, Calif. In Opposition to Hawaiian Admission. (1959, February 25). United States Government Printing Office.
William Buckley Announces New Magazine. (1955, October 1). Right.
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