Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The "war on Christmas"
Various journalists have attempted to trace the real origin of the "war on Christmas" - Max Blumenthal came close to the truth in a December 9, 2008 Daily Beast story subtitled "The War on Christmas' started in a white nationalist cabal and spread to conservative media". Blumenthal placed that "cabal" in America of the 1990s. The first "war on the war on Christmas" was indeed waged by a "white nationalist cabal", but in early 1920s era Bavaria.
A few years' before Blumenthal's close shave, in a November 21, 2005 Salon story, Michele Goldberg came even closer, tracing the "war on Christmas" trope through 1960s John Birch Society propaganda to an even earlier, and seemingly unlikely origin:
"As the Web site News Hounds pointed out last year, Henry Ford was sounding the alarm about the war on Christmas in his notorious 1921 tract "The International Jew." "The whole record of the Jewish opposition to Christmas, Easter and other Christian festivals, and their opposition to certain patriotic songs, shows the venom and directness of [their] attack," Ford wrote. He listed local outrages: "Christmas celebrations or carols in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Paul and New York met with strong Jewish opposition ... Local Council of Jewish Women of Baltimore petitions school board to prohibit Christmas exercises ... The Council of the University Settlement, at the request of the New York Kehillah [Jewish leadership], adopts this resolution: `That in the holiday celebrations held annually by the Kindergarten Association at the University Settlement every feature of any sectarian character, including Christmas trees, Christmas programs and Christmas songs, shall be eliminated.' "
But both Goldberg and author of the Newshounds story missed a key detail, which had surfaced with the publication of Neil Baldwin's 2001 book Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate - Ford's anti-Jewish propaganda was distributed by Hitler and the Nazis themselves, and so an extremely strong case can be made that Ford's propaganda, which gave extensive details from the front lines, within America, of the alleged Jewish drive for political and economic world domination, played a major role in further inflaming Nazi anti-Jewish hatred.
That likely role is underlined by Hitler's 1931 statement to the Detroit News, "I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration" and in the post-World War Two 1946 Nuremberg War Crimes testimony of former Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach (who claims to have read Ford's International Jew at the age of 17) who stated,
"You have no idea what a great influence [The International Jew] had on the thinking of German youth... [T]he younger generation looked with envy to the symbols of success and prosperity like Henry Ford, and if he said that the Jews were to blame, why naturally we believed him."
In the early 1920s the four-part American propaganda tract series, The International Jew, published under the name of Henry Ford, alleged that Jews were plotting to rule the world. Almost as soon as Ford's tract series, originally published by the Ford-owned Michigan Dearborn Independent newspaper, was printed it was translated into German and then distributed by Adolf Hitler's young National Socialist Party. Leaders of the young Nazi party revered automaker Ford, whose portrait hung in Hitler's Party office in Munich, Bavaria.
Ford's Dearborn Independent tract series, which was reprinted as a four-book set that came to known under the name The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem was a voluminous expansion of themes found in the Tsarist propaganda forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and exhaustively fleshed out, with real-world details, the Protocols' alleged Jewish plot for world domination.
The salience of the "war on Christmas" theme in Ford's International Jew comes out in a text search of the word "Christmas" in the text, which shows up on 14 different pages and in every one of those instances "Christmas" is used in the context an alleged Jewish attempt to suppress the Christmas tradition. The International Jew is heavily, overtly Christian as well - a fact often seldom emphasized in scholarly discussion of the tract series. The word "Christian" shows up on an astonishing 132 of the collected 645 pages of the four-volume International Jew series.
Listing American-Jewish efforts to suppress Christmas celebrations in urban public schools -- narratives which bore uncanny resemblance to contemporary "war on Christmas" narratives promoted by Fox news, conservative evangelical ministries, and writing from Sarah Palin -- The International Jew spelled out, for the Nazis and for Germans, exactly what Jews would do if, or when, they achieved total power - banning Christmas would only be the beginning.
Christmas was, by many accounts deeply important to Adolf Hitler. He was reported to disappear into seclusion every Christmas eve, and Hitler's affinity to anti-Jewish strains within German Christianity is apparent in his enthusiasm for the Oberammergau Passion Play, the most celebrated of European passion plays long noted for their role in inciting Medieval anti-Jewish hatred.
At a 1926 Nazi Christmas celebration, Hitler declared, "Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews ... The work that Christ started but could not finish, I -- Adolf Hitler -- will conclude."
Other disconcerting parallels between contemporary American political culture and pre-War Germany exist. As I explained in a May 2011 story,
"The rise of Hitler and the Nazis paralleled the rise of a popular conspiratorial, accusatory German cultural narrative which claimed the nation was in decline and moral free-fall. The narrative blamed secularism and alleged subversive elements in society, notably Jews. In 2006, at a prominent academic conference, leading evangelical scholar David P. Gushee warned that narratives of cultural complaint and despair to be found currently on the American right share much in common with similar narratives that flourished in pre-fascist and pre-World War Two Germany."
The German cultural narrative Gushee referred to was historically tied to the Dolchstoßlegende -- The "Dolchstoßlegende," the "stab in the back" myth, blamed the German loss in World War One on a Jewish conspiracy. Related narratives blamed Jews as well for crime, economic hardship and alleged immorality.
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