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  FATHER COUGHLIN, HUEY LONG, & UPTON SINCLAIR; VOICES FOR THE DISAFFECTED IN 1930s AMERICA

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FATHER COUGHLIN

Despite the setback of the Union Party's election results, Father Coughlin continued his radio messages, where the content largely emphasized the distribution of wealth in a Robin Hood fashion, and how to do otherwise was a sin against all that is God. His populist voice, however, did have a dark side, and it was this dark side that led to the downfall of his radio time, and ultimately his political career. This dark side largely revolved around his obsession with ridding the US of Communism and with a supposed Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy (Holocaust 1). The result was an unintended association with German-American Nazi-sympathizers, the Friends of the New Germany (commonly known as the German-American Bund, or simply, the Bund) through his distrust of the "international Jew," a distaste for communism (which led to his initial support of Hitler's and Mussolini's squelching of communism), and his connection to the Christian Front.

Even as early as 1930-31, Father Coughlin was denouncing communism on the airwaves and at his public speaking engagements.

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Communism was no friend of the Catholic Church, and thus no friend of Coughlin's. He stated his view in a radio broadcast from that period:

But I have studied it long enough to understand that men do not become communists because of its atheism, its hatred of their country, or their desire to see their wives and children and themselves reduced to public property in a militaristic state. Communists are merely men as you and I, but soured and leaderless, generated by the protected injustice which withholds from them their bread and butter and their piece of mind (Sweat 107).

German-American Bund GatheringIt was the sentiment of this message that led the  German-American Bund to proclaim the name and message of Father Coughlin. With 25,00 members including 8,000 uniformed Storm Troopers, they were a highly organized group under the command of Fritz Kuhn, a man known in 1939 to be the highest-ranking anti-Semite in the U.S. (Holocaust 2). The Bund, under Kuhn's propaganda, saw the leaderless man that Coughlin refers to as well as the distribution of wealth, as exactly what Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were fighting in Europe. An article in Coughlin's Social Justice praising Hitler's andGerman-American Bund Mussolini's squashing of communism also fueled the Bund and their anti-Semitic views (Tull 206). Father Coughlin's denouncing of the "international Jew" as the source of banking and economic woes, thus the cause of the Great Depression added more fuel for the Bund fire. Coughlin never claimed official association with the Bund, and while he casually disassociated himself from their activities, he did share some of their common vision including their belief in an historically discredited document called the Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion Protocols of the Elders of Zion document, a document that was supposedly created as the minutes of a meeting of world Jewish leaders bent on taking over the world (Tull 193).

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