Culture

The Ten Worst U.S. Purveyors of Antisemitism, #9: Willis Carto

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If Satan himself, with all of his super-human genius and diabolical ingenuity at his command, had tried to create a permanent disintegration and force for the destruction of the nations, he could have done no better than to invent the Jews.

Those words were written back in 1966 by Willis Carto, whom the Anti-Defamation League calls “one of the most influential American anti-Semitic propagandists of the past 50 years.”

Carto, born in 1926, is still going strong at 87, having devoted most of his adult life to hatred of Jews. It seems to have started sometime after Carto’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II, when he encountered a crank named Francis Parker Yockey.

Yockey, too, had served in the U.S. Army, but was medically discharged with a diagnosis of “dementia praecox, paranoid type.” In 1946 Yockey served as an assistant to the prosecution at the War Crimes Tribunal in Wiesbaden, but soon quit because he thought the Nazi defendants weren’t being treated fairly.

A couple of years later Yockey finished his magnum opus, a 600-page, racist and fascist, nearly-unintelligible treatise called Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics. Willis Carto, however, read it and was profoundly impressed, and later had his own publishing house reprint it.

In June 1960, Carto visited his mentor in a San Francisco jail where Yockey was being held for passport fraud. The visit didn’t seem to boost Yockey’s morale; a week later he swallowed cyanide and was done for.

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Meanwhile, though, Willis Carto had launched his career as a central activist of American hate. In 1955 he established Liberty Lobby, a Washington, D.C.-based umbrella organization for antisemitic groups. In 1966 he gained control of the magazine American Mercury, once associated with the legendary journalist H. L. Mencken. In Carto’s hands it became a quarterly antisemitic journal.

In 1968 Carto set up Youth for Wallace, which supported the presidential bid of southern segregationist Democrat George Wallace. After the candidate lost, Youth for Wallace morphed into Carto’s National Youth Alliance. “Leaders at its conferences,” the ADL notes, “celebrated Yockey’s fascist reveries and adorned themselves with Nazi regalia.”

In 1975, Liberty Lobby starting publishing its weekly tabloid The Spotlight. It became the flagship of the radical right, reaching a circulation of 300,000 per week in 1981.

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Antisemites like Carto love and venerate the Nazis because they killed a lot of Jews, and would have killed all of them if not stopped. At the same time, antisemites still fear that the Holocaust fosters too much sympathy, and hence also power, for Jews; so they take up Holocaust denial.

As for how they can keep idolizing the perpetrators of the Holocaust while denying that it occurred, the answer is that the Cartos of the world are neither the most logical nor the most scrupulous people.

In 1979, Carto set up the California-based Institute for Historical Review, which some view as the world’s leading Holocaust-denial outfit. Carto’s Noontide Press had already published David Hoggan’s The Myth of the Six Million, one of the world’s first Holocaust-denial books.

In 1979, the IHR launched its own Journal of Historical Review, and its annual conferences are attended by leading lights of Holocaust denial from all over the world.

The IHR, however, ran into trouble when an Auschwitz survivor named Mel Mermelstein took up its offer of a $50,000 reward for “proof” that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz. When Mermelstein submitted a notarized account of witnessing his mother, two sisters, and others being herded toward a gas chamber there, the IHR refused to pay up. A 1985 court judgment ordered the institute to pay him $90,000 and to apologize to him and “all other survivors of Auschwitz [for] pain, anguish and suffering” caused to them.

But Carto’s troubles were just beginning. In 1993, the IHR’s top brass accused him of fraud and financial mismanagement. In 1996, a California judge ruled against him, ordering him to compensate the IHR with $6 million. Carto and his Liberty Lobby filed for bankruptcy, but in 2001 a court ordered him to divest himself of Liberty Lobby and vacate its Washington offices, and to shut down The Spotlight.PJ-Carto-4

Carto, however, fired by his mission, bounced back fast. Having lost both the IHR and Noontide Press to his former comrades, he replaced the Journal of Historical Review with the Barnes Review, America’s leading Holocaust-denial journal ever since. And he replaced The Spotlight with the American Free Press, which focuses on “New World Order” conspiracies, American Jews, and Israel, and counts Ron Paul and Paul Craig Roberts among its contributors.

In 2007, Carto slammed the “genocidal maniacs like Vice President Cheney and commentator Bill O’Reilly” for supporting the war in Iraq. Both his Holocaust-denying Barnes Review and his gutter-antisemitism American Free Press backed Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 runs for the presidency. Meanwhile Carto was “theorizing” (Barnes Review, May/June 2010) that Jews are descendants of the Neanderthals and—now as then—continue to wage subhuman war on the “real” humans.

The melancholy conclusion from an overview of Willis Carto’s ongoing life and work is that demented hatred can energize a person, imparting meaning and purpose, just as well as decent causes can. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for enough decent people to ignore or deny such psychological reality and pretend that pretty much everyone is rational and appeasable.