HENRY FORD AND GERALD L.K. SMITH:
BIG BUSINESS & THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT

By S.R. Shearer

Ford's anti-Semitism was no anomaly! His views regarding the Jewish community, rather than being an aberration, were representative of countless others in the business community. With regard to Ford, Gerald L.K. Smith (please see previous article) writes, "At the apex of his business career, Henry Ford, the industrial genius, sensed that a terrific effort was being made to take his business from him and manipulate it into the hands of the money-changers. Mr. Ford had the impression that these manipulators were being engineered by powerful Jewish financiers."[1]

[Evangelicals should note here that, according to Smith's own account, it wasn't so much Ford's "Christian beliefs" which - in the first instance - propelled him forward in his battle against socialism and the Jews, but the conviction that "Jewish money-changers" were trying to rob him of his business. There is little to indicate that Ford was a particularly religious man prior to the rise of trade unionism at Ford Motor Co.; it was only after he began to feel threatened by "socialist" forces that he "got religion" - leading one to suspect that Christianity's most useful function to Ford was as a device to protect his wealth - and that beyond that it served no useful purpose. Christians should ask themselves whether such allies are worth having - because, in the end, this is the kind of thinking that is characteristic of the wealthy. To be sure, there are exceptions (and they are to be found in the most surprising places, for example, Jeff Coors[2]), but these exceptions do not obviate the rule.]

Smith continues, "He (Ford) called to his office the most intelligent research men within his acquaintance. He commissioned them to make a thorough study of the international Jew, and publish their findings in The Dearborn Independent, which at that time was the official organ of the Ford Motor Company. No expense was spared, and it is estimated that literally millions of dollars were spent by Mr. Ford on this project. The original articles were carried first in The Dearborn Independent, and then published in book form."[3]

Smith goes on,

"I have in my possession every copy of The Dearborn Independent. This complete set is beautifully bound in Morocco leather and was given to me by an inner-circle member of Mr. Ford's personal staff.

"When the report of The International Jew was originally published it opened each chapter with a text taken from The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, or from the published statements of world prominent Jews. The moment the manuscripts dealing with the Jewish problem reached the public, a terrific howl went up from official Jewry. If I were to summarize the campaign of reprisal and abuse which was carried on against Mr. Ford and his Company, this summary alone would require a book. Every instrument of torture and abuse which could be imagined was carried on against Mr. Ford - smear, character assassination, ridicule, physical threat, boycott. The pressure was constant, consistent and endless. The most powerful and enigmatic pressures imaginable were brought to bear on Mr. Ford to stop the publication of The International Jew. Finally the order came through to cease publication and to destroy the copies which were available. Jews and others went into the bookstores and bought and destroyed all copies which could be found. Sneak thieves were commissioned to visit libraries and steal the report out of the libraries. This made the book so rare and unfindable that it became a collector's item.

"The day finally came when the one ambition of the Jews was fulfilled. Mr. Ford apologized for publishing The International Jew and blamed subordinates for the deed."[4]

FORD'S "APOLOGY" TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

The subject of Ford's apology is controversial - even today. But clearly, it had been made under duress and for "public relations" reasons only - and this fact is attested to by Ford's son Edsel, who early on established and maintained close links with the Nazi government at the behest of his father, Henry.[5] To his dying day, the elder Ford continued to believe in the central thrust of the Protocols and kept up his support of right-wing causes - hardly the actions of a man who had "repented" of his anti-Semitism.

Smith continues,

"In 1940 I interviewed Mr. Ford on numerous occasions. In fact, on the day before his first automobile was put under glass he and Mrs. Ford invited Mrs. Smith and myself to be their guests at Dearborn. On this occasion he told me the whole story of his first car and how he happened to make it. Among the precious souvenirs which have come to Mrs. Smith and myself is a New Testament autographed by Mr. Ford, and handwritten letters from Mrs. Ford commenting favorably on some of my speeches and expressing in her own handwriting Mr. Ford's appreciation for my activities.

"It was on the occasion of one of these personal visits with Mr. Ford that he gave me a sensational and shocking report. He said, 'Mr. Smith, my apology for publishing The International Jew was given great publicity, but I did not sign that apology. It was signed by Harry Bennett'.[6] ...

"When Mr. Ford told me that he had not signed the apology, it seemed almost unbelievable. In fact, I could scarcely believe my own ears. Furthermore, on the occasion of this same visit, Mr. Ford said, 'Mr. Smith, I hope to republish The International Jew again some time'. He showed no signs of regret for having published it in the beginning.

Smith goes on,

"... The press quoted Mr. Ford as apologizing for the publication of The International Jew. (But) Mr. Ford told me in the presence of Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Earnest Liebold (his secretary for 34 years) that he hoped to republish it and that he did not sign the apology ...

According to Smith, Ford said,

"There had been observed in this country certain streams of influence which were causing a marked deterioration in our literature, amusements, and social conduct; business was departing from its old-time substantial soundness; a general letting-down of standards were felt everywhere. It was not the robust coarseness of the white man, the rude indelicacy, say, of Shakespeare's characters, but a nasty Orientalism which has insidiously affected every channel of expression - and to such an extent that it was time to challenge it. The fact that these influences are all traceable to one racial source is a fact to be reckoned with ... Our work does not pretend to say the last word on the Jew in America. It says only the word which describes his present impress on this country. When that impress is changed, the report can be changed ... Our opposition is only to ideas, false ideas, which are sapping the moral stamina of the people. These ideas proceed from easily identified sources, they are promulgated by easily discoverable methods and they are controlled by mere exposure."[7]

So well did the business community fan the flames of this kind of thinking that by the early twenties it had pretty well saturated the thinking of most blue-collar Catholics and evangelical Protestants and had seized the imaginations of Catholics like Father Charles E. Coughlin of Royal Oak - the most popular "radio preacher" of that era, and arguably, in terms of percent of listener audience, the most popular "radio preacher" of all time - Father Edward Lodge Curran, President of the International Catholic Truth Society, Father Peter Baptiste Duffee, pastor of the St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York, as well as many of the Paulist Fathers of that and other cities, etc.; and Protestants like James M. Gray of Moody Bible Institute, R.A. Torrey of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Rev. Gerald B. Winrod of Defenders of the Christian Faith, Arno Gaebelein of Our Hope in New York, etc.

FOOTNOTES

  1. The International Jew, edited by Gerald L.K. Smith (Los Angeles: Christian Nationalist Crusade, nd), pgs. 5-11.
  2. See Bellant and the Coors Connection.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 5-11.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 5-11.
  5. Op. Cit., Higham, pg. 158.
  6. Smith says of Bennett: "For the information of the reader Harry Bennett was a very officious and aggressive employee of the Ford Motor Company. He presumed his way into the confidence of Mr. Ford and later became known as an enigmatic and obnoxious personality. Space will not permit a thorough discussion of the activities of harry Bennett. Mr. Ford's personal secretary for 34 years, Mr. Earnest Liebold, told me that one of the worst things that ever happened to the Ford Motor Company was the employment of Harry Bennett. For a certain period of time Bennett exerted virtually a dictatorial control over the affairs of the Company. His alleged deeds, if summarized, might make rather a scandalous book."

    After Mr. Ford died, the man Harry Bennett evidently was very much disillusioned and embittered by the fact that he did not share generously in the inheritance. He collaborated with a Jew by the name of Paul Marcus in the writing of a book entitled We Never Called Him Henry.

    Here is Mr. Bennett's own story concerning the much publicized 'apology' Mr. Ford is supposed to have made for exposing the machinations of the International Jew. Here are Mr. Bennett's own words: 'I got in touch with Arthur Brisbane, and through him learned that the American Jewish Committee could settle the matter. I entered into negotiations with Samuel Untermeyer and Louis Marshall of that organization, and with Brisbane. They drew up the now-famous 'apology', which was to be the basis for a settlement. In this formal statement, it was said that Mr. Ford would see to it that no more anti-Semitic material circulated in his name and that he would call in all undistributed copies of The International Jew', which were booklet reprints of the (Dearborn Independent's articles. For the rest, the 'apology' said that Mr. Ford had no knowledge of what had been published in the Dearborn Independent, and was 'shocked' and 'mortified' to learn about it.
    "'Arthur Brisbane brought this statement to me at 1710 Broadway. I phoned Mr. Ford. I told him an 'apology' had been drawn up, and added: 'It's pretty bad, Mr. Ford'. I tried to read it to him over the phone, but he stopped me. So I signed Mr. Ford's signature to the document. I had always been able to sign his name as realistically as he could himself. I sent the statement to Untermeyer and Marshall. The signature was verified, and the case was closed. All this was done without Mr. Ford's taking anyone else into his confidence. Edsel knew nothing about it, and Cameron and Senator Reed heard about it by reading the papers. Cameron's reaction was quoted by the newspapers: 'It's all news to me and I cannot believe it is true'."

    "Later, Mr. Bennett's story appeared in abbreviated form in True Confession Magazine. The above quotation appeared on page 125 of that magazine for October, 1951. I give the reader this information in order that he may read what follows without the risk of any deception concerning the Ford apology." "... I did not report this conversation even to my most faithful followers because the original 'apology' had been so thoroughly publicized that I knew it would be difficult to make people believe what I had heard from Mr. Ford's own lips ...

    "Whatever the case may be, the report in its original form as well as the abridged edition herewith, speaks for itself and is supported by the logic of its contents.

    "... Concerning The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion Mr. Ford said on February 17, 1921: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on ... They have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now.

    "It must be observed that when Mr. Ford made this statement concerning the Protocols in relationship to his publication The International Jew, this document, which is allegedly the secret minutes of the Elders of Zion, was only 16 years old. The Jews had advertised to the world that The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion were forgeries. Mr. Ford wasted no time arguing this question. He merely said to his friends: 'No matter what they are, they fit what is going on'.

    "Some students of the situation have pointed out that even the word 'forgery' implies that the object referred to is an accurate reproduction of the original. For that reason every student of the Jewish problem should have a copy of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Copies may be obtained by addressing orders to the Christian Nationalist Crusade, P.O. Box 27895, Los Angeles 27, California. Price fifty cents. [The International Jew, edited by Gerald L.K. Smith (Los Angeles: Christian Nationalist Crusade, nd), pgs. 5-11.]
  7. Op. Cit, Smith, pgs. 5-11.

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