Mitch Horowitz sent me a really interesting article about Frederick W. Kaltenbach aka Lord Hee Haw, an Iowa highschool teacher who became one of Goebbels’ best-known radio propagandists. He was an ardent anti-Semite and disdained Democracy; nonetheless he believed, as he told the US State Department in 1940, when applying for another extension of his visa, that he was doing what he could to “further the relations between the land of my father, Germany, and my native land America. I love them both.” William Shirer recalled seeing him at the French surrender at Compiegne on June 22, 1940: “Kaltenbach, as if in a trance, gazed longingly at his Fuhrer as other men might gaze toward their god. It was no surprise, then, when he elected to remain in German and betray his country….he was a born Nazi.”
I read the article soon after I returned from the racist National Policy Institute convention in Washington, DC, so the idea of a conservative, well-educated mid-westerner (Kaltenbach earned an MA from the University of Chicago and moved to Germany in the 1930s to work on his PhD) becoming a traitor didn’t seem so outlandish. The hatred the NPI people espouse for both the American ideals of equal rights and for multicultural America itself is stunning. Like the Nazis, they’re no friends of religion either–they subscribe to a mystical racialism; their dream is an ethnostate that will be dedicated to the sustenance of Pan-European culture, whatever that’s supposed to be. Unlike the Tea Partiers–who look like middle of the road liberals in comparison to them–they don’t have much use for businessmen either. “Our true enemies,” one of them, the author of a little book called Indiana Nation, wrote last week, “Are the Jews and corporate cronies at the helm of Western Civilization. With them deposed and authentic and indigenous tradition-directed leadership at the helm, we’ll have the power and will to expel our hostile invaders, balance our bankrupt budgets, empower our struggling workers, and invigorate our barren families.” Sig heil!
The write-up that I did for the Southern Poverty Law Center (click here and here) inspired a lot of comments from the attendees. “Surely, Mr. Goldwag,” the National Policy Institute’s Executive Director Richard Spencer wrote, “Even you don’t believe that our message is ‘profoundly foreign to most Americans.’ If this were so–and we are the equivalent of experts in basket-weaving or peddlers of alien conspiracy theories–you wouldn’t waste your time reporting on us. The threat that many, many Tea Partiers might start agreeing with us seems to be the raison d’être of the SPLC as well as your entire writing career.”
He might be right about the raison d’être for the SPLC and my writing career, but I have no fear that people who believe what he does will ever be more than the fringe of the fringe. Dangerous, yes, but not an existential threat. I have more faith in my country than that.