As I noted earlier, Glenn Beck this morning had some kind words for Elizabeth Dilling's 1934 anti-communist book, The Red Network, saying: “This is a book -- and I'm a getting a ton of these -- from people who were doing what we're doing now. We now are documenting who all of these people are. Well, there were Americans in the first 50 years of this nation that took this seriously, and they documented it.” As I also noted earlier, had Beck taken just a few moments to Google Elizabeth Dilling, he would have discovered that she was one of the more prolific anti-Semites of the mid-20th century.
It just so happens that Dilling has her own entry in The Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right, edited by Jeffrey Kaplan. Here are a few of the highlights:
In her later years, Elizabeth Dilling played the role of the grandmotherly, blue-haired old lady who could always be counted on to respond to a mail solicitation with a few dollars for a variety of anti-Semitic causes. Older members of the American racist movement knew better, however. Dilling was the author of several of the most scurrilous attacks on Franklin Roosevelt and his administration to appear in the interwar years.
Elizabeth Dilling graduated from the University of Chicago, and after a visit to the Soviet Union in 1931 her life changed. The experience made of her a passionate anticommunist. She soon became convinced that Jews were responsible for the communist movement, and a fanatical anti-Semite was born.
Dilling's primary claim to historical fame stems from two books that she authored in the early years of the Roosevelt administration. To Dilling, Franklin Roosevelt was in all likelihood a Jew and his administration a Trojan horse for international communism. To publicize these views, she authored and published at her own expense two of the more vituperative books of the era. The Red Network: A “Who's Who” and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots was published in 1934. Red Network opened with a primer on the horrors of socialism (seen as synonymous with communism), proceeded to an encyclopedic listing of organizations Dilling believed to be communist fronts, and then culminated with a list of no fewer than 1,300 prominent Americans connected in some way to the Roosevelt administration whom she felt to be active communists or “fellow travelers.”
After the war, Dilling remained active. She moved from Chicago to Kansas to Nebraska, increasing her output of anti-Semitic propaganda at each stop. Her anti-Semitism, in fact, became too extreme for many in the American race movement. She declined, for example, to become involved in the Korean War era movement to draft General Douglas MacArthur as a Republican candidate for president because of her suspicions that the general too may have harbored some Jewish blood.
Dilling also featured prominently in Professor Glen Jeansonne's Women of the Far Right: The Mother's Movement and World War II. On pages 166 and 167, Jeansonne recounts Dilling's opinions of Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, and Richard Nixon:
Also in the 1950s, Dilling backed Sen. Joseph McCarthy's crusade against communism and attacked President Eisenhower. Disappointed over Eisenhower's election, she said “Ike the kike” was the candidate of the Jews. In 1960 Eisenhower was not on the presidential ballot, although Dilling found several reasons to complain about the major candidates, Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower's vice president. Kennedy was denounced for reviewing favorably a book that condemned McCarthy, for addressing the National Conference of Christians and Jews, for accepting an honorary degree from Brandeis University, and for advocating the sale of Israel bonds. Furthermore, Dilling believed Kennedy wanted to admit more refugees to get more Jews into the country. Dilling nonetheless concluded that “The only candidate who can excel Kennedy in service to the synagogue is perhaps Nixon.”
After Kennedy was elected, Dilling became one of his more vicious critics. She claimed that Jews, blacks, and communists had provided JFK's margin of victory; condemned the Peace Corps; labeled Kennedy's New Frontier program the “Jew frontier”; and criticized the appointment of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to the White House staff because the historian had written books praising FDR. Dilling demanded to know what Kennedy and Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev, a Jewish puppet, said over the “hot line” set up between Washington and Moscow.