American Anti-Semite

October 26, 2015 was a blessed day in the United States.

Willis Allison Carto, the most influential American anti-Semitic propagandist of his generation, died. He was 89.

By any measure, Carto had a greater impact on public opinion than all his vile contemporaries and predecessors, ranging from George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party and Richard Butler of Aryan Nations to Gerald L.K. Smith of The Cross and the Flag and William Dudley Pelley of the Silver Shirts.

Although he was a reclusive figure who shunned attention, Carto loomed large in what his weekly newspaper, The American Free Press, described as the “nationalist movement.”

Its reactionary followers, hailing from the fringes of society, were a toxic blend of racists, bigots, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and survivalists. They admired the fascist movement in pre-war Europe, idolized Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, despised Jews and called for the repatriation of African Americans to Africa.

Carto, who compared Jews to Satan and denied the existence of the Holocaust, was their house guru. He laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Liberty Lobby, a fount for right-wing extremism. And he founded a network of extremist publications from The Spotlight to The Washington Observer.

He founded the pseudo intellectual Institute for Historical Research, which debunks the Holocaust and, until 2002, published the Journal of Historical Review. 

On its website on November 2, the Institute for Historical Research justifies anti-Semitism. As one of its contributors, Mark Weber, writes, “And why has the rage broken out again and again, in the most varied nations, eras and cultures? As history shows, what is often called anti-Semitism is the natural and understandable attitude of people toward a minority with particularistic loyalties that wields greatly disproportionate power for its own interests…”

Beyond the Institute for Historical Research, Carto created the Populist Party, whose presidential candidate in 1988 was none other than David Duke, a Klansman and rabble-rouser from Louisiana.

Carto, born in Indiana, was a World War II veteran who gravitated to right-wing causes. In 1960, while editor of Right, a monthly bulletin, he interviewed Francis Parker Yockey, a lawyer who had been arrested on charges of passport fraud.

An admirer of Hitler, Yockey was the author of Imperium, a 600-page tome that glorified Nazi Germany and libeled Jews as “distorters of culture.” Carto was impressed by his ideas, but a week after he had met him, Yockey committed suicide in his cell. Carto, his acolyte, published a new edition of Imperium and wrote its 35-page introduction. It was printed by Carto’s publishing house, Noontide Press, which distributes books, DVDs, CDs and leaflets from what it calls a “politically incorrect” perspective.

In 1955, Carto formed Liberty Lobby, a “pressure group for patriotism” that the Anti-Defamation League classified as “the most influential right-wing extremist propaganda organization in the United States.” Liberty Lobby, which closed in 2001, published The Spotlight, a newspaper whose circulation reached 300,000.

Carto’s Institute for Historical Research, which presented a “revisionist” interpretation of the Holocaust, went out on a limb in 1979 when it offered $50,000 to anyone who could prove that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Rudolf Hoss, one of its commanders, admitted after the war that Zyklon B gas had been used to murder Jews on an industrial scale. Carto dismissed his confession on the grounds that it had been wrung from him “under duress.”

A Holocaust survivor in California, Mel Mermelstein, set out to demolish Carto. He collected irrefutable evidence — eyewitness testimonies, photographs, documents and a can of Zyklon B gas — to make his case. Carto did not respond to Mermelstein’s petition and he sued him.

In an out-of-court settlement in 1985, the Institute for Historical Research agreed to pay the $50,000, as well as $40,000 in damages. As well, the institute issued an apology and acknowledged that the Holocaust was an empirical fact.

Carto also got into trouble when The Spotlight claimed that William Buckley Jr., the editor of The National Review, once had a “close working relationship” with George Lincoln Rockwell, the American Nazi Party leader and a contributor to Right. Buckley sued Carto for libel and won his case in 1985. In a reference to Carto, Buckley said, “It is and was and always will be one of the missions of The National Review to ward off the fever swamps of the crazed right.”

These defeats, however, did not dim Carto’s ardor for unceasing hatemongering. Fanatically committed to demonizing Jews, he likened Jews to “Satan himself,” a characterization he deployed in a letter sent to syndicated newspaper columnist Drew Pearson.

As a Holocaust denier par excellence, he sneered at the Diary of Anne Frank, claiming it was a hoax and maintaining that Jews had fabricated the “myth” of the six million in order to convince the United Nations to support the creation of Israel.

Being a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite and anti-Zionist, he held Israel responsible for the Arab terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001.

According to The American Free Press, Carto’s mouthpiece, he was “one of the great American patriots.”

Of course.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,