Glenn Beck is one confused puppy.
Last week (in between weeping jags) he was all over the ideological map: warning us one day that America was on the road Communism, and the very next telling us we were traveling the path to Nazism. Of course, the source of much of that confusion became clear yesterday when he had on Jonah Goldberg to explain that this was all Liberal Fascism at work.
So in the very next segment of yesterday's show, Beck featured a right-wing crackpot named Burton Folsom Jr., who's out there hawking a book built on the historically and economically risible claims that FDR's New Deal was bad for Americans -- by way of explaining that Obama's similar economic-stimulus plans are, on Planet Beck, leading us to Liberal Fascist Socialism or something like that.
In the course of the conversation, Beck held up Henry Ford's opposition to the New Deal as a beacon of inspiration:
Beck: This blue eagle [holds up National Recovery Act poster], there were more of these in the windows of New York City than there were swastikas in Munich at the time of the war. This was -- if you didn't have this, you weren't American. People were told, don't shop at that store. Ford actually said, 'I don't want anything to do with it.' What happened to Ford?
Folsom: Ford said, 'If we lived up to it, we'd have to live down to it.' He thought it was a terrible code. He also thought it was unconstitutional. He said, 'We're not ready to be like Russia just yet.' He refused to go along with the code. General Motors did go along with the code, Ford did not, and so Ford was denied access to any government contract on automobiles that he submitted bids for.
Funny thing about Ford's opposition to the New Deal: It was indeed based on his belief it was 'socialist' in nature. But that brings up another aspect of Ford's political worldview: He was not only an admirer of Hitler and the Nazis -- as well as one of the major overseas investors in their war machine -- his naked anti-Semitism helped inspire the Holocaust.
That would be this Henry Ford:
That's a picture of Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest honor available to non-Germans, on July 30, 1938, his 75th birthday.
That would be the Henry Ford who in 1920 began publishing The International Jew -- one of the most infamous anti-Semitic screeds in history. This text first raised to national prominence the notorious Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion hoax -- and indeed may have been responsible for its subsequent wide distribution in Hitler's Germany as well.
Speaking of Hitler, here's what he had to say about the speculation in 1923 that Ford might run for president:
I wish I could send some of my shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help in the elections ... We look to Heinrich Ford as the leader of the growing fascist movement in America ... We have just had his anti-Jewish articles translated and published. The book is being circulated in millions throughout Germany."
As the ADL notes:
Though Ford apologized for The International Jew and closed the Dearborn Independent, he later accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Hitler's Nazi government in July, 1938.
Ford also probably did more than any American to help build the Nazi war machine in the 1930s. As Christopher Simpson describes in his book The Splendid Blond Beast, Ford invested heavily in German jobs during the Depression rather than American jobs, setting up a Ford auto factory in Cologne and investing elsewhere as well. At one point, Ford's German division made plans to purchase an 'Aryanized' firm called Stoewer-Werke AG -- part of the Nazi program to convert former Jewish-owned companies into fully 'Aryan' operations. Ford's cooperation was touted by the Nazis as proof of the "global reach" of the worldview behind Aryanization.
Ford also invested in proto-fascist organizations in America. It was reported (but never proven) that he was a secret investor in the German-American Bund, which turned out after the war to have had an abundance of Nazi connections, including being basically underwritten by the Nazi Party; and he was a major supporter of America First, whose leading members after the outbreak of war held a gathering where they planned to lead the Vichy-style occupational government after the Nazis inevitably defeated the U.S.
And his view of the New Deal was decidedly wrapped up in all this. As Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews describes, his "private jottings reflected [Ford's] dislike of bankers, Jews, the New Deal and labor unions, and his major competitors, General Motors and Chrysler."
Occasionally, Ford merged these components together into an imagined conspiracy against the Ford Motor Company, losing ground in a competitive consumer marketplace. "Our competitors are behind all tax and N.R.A. plans, with the bankers' international, and they are running all the governments in the world," Ford free-associated. "Unions are created by finance and industry." In another place, he scrawled, as if reminding himself, "The Jew is out to enslave you."
So Glenn Beck wants us to heed the wise words of the Nazis' best friend in America? But isn't that heading us down the path of ... ?
Oh, nevermind. Anyone who thinks Liberal Fascism is "a great book" is a lost cause anyway.