|Gerald L. K. Smith|
From the 1940s until his expiry inward 1976 Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith was 1 of the nearly outspoken in addition to prolific antisemitic conspiracy theorists inward the United States. Smith stands out, non then much for the originality, quality, or fifty-fifty the consistency of his ideas, but rather for his mightiness to communicate them.
Born inward Pardeeville, Wisconsin, inward 1898, Smith was the scion of a fundamentalist Christian household unit of measurement who adhered to a literal interpretation of the Bible based upon the New Testament. After graduating from academy inward 1922, Smith became a preacher and, next a meteoric ascent through a succession of ministries inward the Midwest, arrived inward Shreveport, Louisiana, during the 1929 Stock Market Crash.
Thereafter Smith rose to prominence equally the charismatic main lieutenant to Huey P. Long, the demagogic governor of Louisiana, on whose behalf he ran the Share Our Wealth organization, which gave him access to its 200,000-strong mailing list, his nearly vital property inward futurity years. However, when Long was assassinated inward 1935, Smith proved incapable of rallying his political legacy.
Shedding his populist back upwards for the New Deal, Smith became increasingly led past times antisemitic conspiracy theories, veering rightward in addition to fiercely criticizing President Roosevelt. In 1937 Smith formed the Committee of One Million equally a vehicle for his choice ready of Christian “Americanism.”
By 1942 the organisation had brought Smith three 1 chiliad one thousand followers in addition to an impressive make of influential in addition to wealthy backers, including Henry Ford, who shared his analysis of the impending danger of “Jewish Communism,” which mirrored that of Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
As his admiration for Nazism grew, Smith briefly joined William Dudley Pelley’s Silver Shirts. He was likewise associated amongst doc Francis Townsend in addition to Father Charles E. Coughlin, the antisemitic “radio priest,” amongst whom he founded the Union Party in addition to which made him a genuinely national figure.
However, Smith was expelled from the political party inward 1942 because of his allegedly disruptive behavior. That same twelvemonth Smith went populace amongst the “call” he had received to salve Christian America from the “enemies of Christ.”
Smith’s obstreperous back upwards of the Dies Committee’s investigation of “un-American” activities ensured that, dissimilar many less prominent antisemites, he escaped indictment during the Grand Sedition Trial inward 1944.
Unscathed, Smith reemerged afterwards the state of war at the caput of the Christian Nationalist Party (CNP), envisaged equally a continuation of the isolationist America First Party upon whose founder, Captain Earl Southard, Smith had exerted considerable influence.
The CNP was complemented past times the formation inward 1947 of his personal vehicle, the Christian Nationalist Crusade (CNC), whose mouthpiece, Cross in addition to Flag, drew upon the Committee of One Million’s all-important subscription lists.
Smith’s tireless evangelizing was remarkably successfully inward weaving together Judaism, communism, in addition to civil rights equally business office of 1 vast conspiracy, which he traced dorsum to the Order of the Illuminati. However, piece this gave the politics of McCarthyism an added antisemitic dimension, Smith never regained his prewar stature.
Although he continued his wide-ranging correspondence amongst many populace figures, his antisemitism, non to cite his personal idiosyncrasies, had effectively pushed him beyond the pale. His 1 time powerful vocalization continued to go muted past times the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) policy of “dynamic silence,” which effectively smothered his access to the media past times depriving him of publicity.
Smith retired to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, inward the slow 1960s where, despite the objections of the AJC, he built a religious topic commons centered upon a seven-story statue of Jesus, Christ of the Ozarks. Smith died in addition to was buried at the pes of this crumbling building inward 1976, the championship of his posthumously published autobiography, Besieged Patriot, an unconscious commentary on his subsequent descent into political oblivion.
However, despite this litany of personal failure his longevity ensured that Smith provided a formative influence for successive generations of far-right activists whose influence continues to resonate today. Having moved to Los Angeles inward 1953 Smith, the CNC, in addition to its youth displace became the organizational focus for a burgeoning clique of Christian Identity preachers centered inward Southern California.
Paradoxically derived from simply about elements of philosemitic British Israelitism, the vehemently antisemitic theology of Christian Identity believes that Christians, non Jews, are God’s “chosen people,” the truthful descendants of Abraham, piece Jews are viewed equally the literal “seed of Satan” descended from Cain, the progeny of an unholy spousal human relationship betwixt Eve in addition to Satan inward the Garden of Eden. At a stroke, globe history became the titanic make out betwixt 2 diametrically opposed bloodlines representing skillful in addition to evil, Aryan in addition to Jew, God in addition to the Devil.
While Smith played a prominent purpose inward popularizing Christian Identity in addition to linking it to political extremism, he was non responsible for the antisemitic perversion of British Israelite theology. This had occurred before nether the influence of Howard Rand in addition to William J. Cameron, the latter the editor of Henry Ford’s infamous Dearborn Independent.
Smith’s importance for the development of Christian Identity is to go judged non past times his ideas, but past times the coherence of the sophisticated modern propaganda network that he bestowed upon its adherents.
Indeed, many influential Christian Identity preachers similar Wesley Swift, who ofttimes accompanied Smith on his speaking tours in addition to acted equally his bodyguard, outset achieved prominence through CNC-sponsored Bible lectures. This ideological transmission traveled both ways in addition to Swift appears to convey had a powerful reciprocal influence on Smith, whom he introduced to the fundamental “truth” of Christian Identity.
In this observe Smith held a seat of pivotal importance, forming a personal in addition to ideological brace betwixt the traditions of Depression-era antisemitism in addition to the violent neo-Nazi groups of the 1970s similar Aryan Nations in addition to the Christian Defense League, whose leaders saw themselves equally heirs to Swift’s ministry building and, past times implication, to that of Smith himself.