The Apprenticeship of Willis Carto
For more than fifty years, Willis Allison Carto marketed racism and anti-Semitism as if they were the solution to all the world’s ills. Yet he routinely kept himself out of the public limelight and did business behind a maze of corporate fronts. Most often, what is actually known about Willis Carto’s personal life comes largely from the mountains of court documents he created over the decades. At the same time, his role inside the white supremacist movements was well known to his compatriots there. David Duke once told a conference of Aryan believers: "There is probably no individual in this room who has had more impact on the movement today in terms of awareness of the Jewish question than this individual ...Because he has not only influenced many of you individually . . . but he also has influenced the men and women who influenced you."1
Born on July 17, 1926, Carto recalled a Depression-era youth of thrift and enterprise in the Midwest. He mowed lawns in the summer, shoveled snow in the winter, and made deliveries on his bicycle for the local drugstore. From the basement of his parents’ house in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he made money operating a small handset printing press. Young Willis attended school in Fort Wayne. After graduating from high school in 1944, he served for two years with the army in the Philippines and Japan. Upon demobilization, he joined the ranks of veterans seeking a college education, attending both Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and the University of Cincinnati.2
An aggressive salesman from the start, Carto began his business life in 1950 with Procter & Gamble. He then worked as a Household Finance Corporation loan officer while living in San Francisco. From 1954 to 1959 he sold printing and coffee machines.3 In November 1958, thirty-two-year-old Willis Carto married twenty-one-year-old Elisabeth Waltraud Oldemeir. A native of Herford, Germany, she eventually took United States citizenship. They never had children. But she was a constant partner in their multiple endeavors.4
He also turned friends into enemies and litigated against both.
Carto’s first significant enterprise was a monthly bulletin he started in 1955. Entitled Right: The Journal of Forward-Looking American Nationalism, it promoted many of the anti-communist, anti-Semitic, and segregationist ideas then circulating on the far right. Editing and publishing under the rubric of a corporation named Liberty and Property, Inc., he developed mailing lists and made appeals for financial support. He became adept at expressing his ideas about race and nationalism in the pages of Right—either under his own name or through an oft-used pseudonym, "E. L. Anderson, Ph.D." Like an apprentice entrepreneur, Carto learned during those years many of the organizational skills that later set him apart from other white supremacists.
At that time he also launched a venture called Joint Council for Repatriation. Historically, "repatriation" was the idea that black people living in the United States could best be free if they moved en masse to Africa. Some abolitionists actively supported it during the period of slavery, and after the Civil War some American blacks did settle the territory that became Liberia. In Carto’s hands, however, repatriation was another thing entirely. And his correspondence from that period shows that he regarded it as a way to avoid desegregation and the assumption of full citizenship rights by black people. Carto sent out his first letter to a colleague on Joint Council stationery in January 1955—seven months after the decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.5 But the Joint Council died on the vine, and Carto subsequently tried to hide away his advocacy on this point.
Ultimately, Carto became best known as the chief of a multimillion-dollar outfit in D.C. called Liberty Lobby, the origin of which he dated to 1955.6 At that point, however it existed only in his mind, and it was two more years before he floated this idea with an article in his Right bulletin. "Liberty Lobby," he wrote, would ". . . lock horns with the minority special interest pressure groups."7 Carto imagined a great struggle, with himself at the center. "To the goal of political power all else must be temporarily sacrificed," he wrote.8
He shopped the Liberty Lobby idea to both conspiracy-obsessed anti-communists in the North and archsegregationists in the South, promising that it would "complement" their activity rather than supplant it.9
Preparing to focus on building Liberty Lobby, Carto closed down hisRight bulletin in 1960 and spent the summer working at the John Birch Society offices in Belmont, Massachusetts.10 A conspiracy-obsessed anti-communist organization with tens of thousands of members, the Birch Society did not share all of Carto’s ideological views, and it did not formally endorse his proposal for creating a Liberty Lobby. But a number of observers believe that Carto left Belmont with a copy of the Birch mailing list secretly in hand, ready to use it for his own fund-raising purposes.
Shortly thereafter, Liberty Lobby opened an office in the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. Carto named himself the corporation’s secretary-treasurer and hired a staff person, who began courting representatives and senators. A periodic newsletter, Liberty Letter, touted the operation’s activities. One of its early goals was repeal of reciprocal trade agreements,11 and Liberty Lobby’s nominal chairman, Curtis Dall, testified before the Senate Finance Committee in 1962. An "international cabal" supported free trade, Dall argued, and the "real center and heart" of this cabal was "the political Zionist planners for absolute rule via one world government."12 Substituting the word "Zionist" when talking about Jews became a hallmark of Liberty Lobby propaganda ever after, as "anti-Zionism" became a convenient cover for anti-Semitism.
One incident from those early years illustrates much about Carto’s personality and his relentless attempt to hide his political views. Looking like a mild-mannered model of middle-class probity in coat and tie, Carto walked into the Giant Super Store on Annapolis Road in Glen-ridge, Maryland, with two accomplices. Once inside the three split up, and each walked to a different section of the store. The thirty-six-year-old Carto grabbed a shopping cart and pushed it through the luggage section, stopping only to open suitcases, insert a fold-over four-inch printed card in each, and snap them shut again before he moved on. Continuing in the book section, Carto sensed that he was being watched. Grabbing his empty basket, he pushed to the front of the store and started to leave. But his path was quickly blocked by first one man and then several others.13
A small crowd watched as he was stopped and forcibly detained. Store detectives directed him to a stockroom, where he was handcuffed. The once properly dressed faux shopper now looked madly disheveled. By his own account, Carto "refused to cooperate in any way" and was treated like a "common criminal."14 From his wallet the detectives took the remaining copies of the four-inch cards.
"Always buy your Communist products from Super Giant" was printed across the front in red ink, beside a hammer and sickle. A quotation from FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and a list of household products were on the inside. At the time the United States and Soviet Union were locked in geopolitical combat stretching across the globe. The Western bloc and the Eastern bloc glared at each other over the Berlin Wall, which had just been built the year before. The Cuban missile crisis threatened to turn into a nuclear war. American "advisers" were starting to ship out to Vietnam. And Willis Carto was worried about Polish hams, Czech cut glass, and Yugoslav wooden bowls on the shelves at a local market.15 In the context of the Cold War, Carto’s anti-communist card passing seems bizarre, almost cartoonlike. But it was real. He was taken to a local police station, fingerprinted, and booked on a charge of disorderly conduct.16 Two months later he was convicted before a magistrate judge and fined ten dollars.17
Carto subsequently filed a civil suit against Giant Food, charging that he had been called a "communist" and a "Nazi" while being arrested and been "exposed to public hatred, contempt and ridicule." For each of twelve claims, he asked twenty-five thousand dollars, a total of three hundred thousand dollars.18 While the arrest itself did not expose much about the personality and politics of Willis Carto, his lawsuit ultimately revealed more about his personality and actual politics than he could have possibly wanted.
In civil cases of this sort, one of the first legal steps is known as discovery, a court-sanctioned investigation of the plaintiff by the defendant and vice versa, often taken in the form of oral depositions and written interrogatories. By charging that he had been defamed when called a "Nazi," Carto opened a door to questions about his own political beliefs, and Giant Food responded to each of his claims with a set of interrogatories: Where did the plaintiff go to school? Where did the plaintiff work? Describe all political affiliations. Has the plaintiff made political speeches? Where? Has the plaintiff written political articles? Please identify. Have you ever used any name other than Willis A. Carto? Questions he repeatedly tried to avoid, according to case records, but was eventually required to answer.19
Despite his multiple evasions, when the suit came to trial, the jury apparently had enough information to make a decision. Carto lost on all counts. Afterward the judge felt constrained to comment on the speciousness of his claims. "It seems to me, ladies and gentlemen," the Honorable Harrison Winter told the jury, "that only a very benevolent government would make available your services . . . for some four and a half trial days, and the services of the clerk of this court, the services of the court reporter, the services of the deputy marshal . . . my court crier and the services of myself for a case so utterly frivolous and devoid of merit."20 This would not be the last judge annoyed with Willis Carto, his lawsuits, and his multiple courtroom equivocations. Nor would this be the final time that Carto entrapped himself with a device of his own construction.
Carto faced a dilemma during the early 1960s. He wanted to do more than just talk before congressional committees and surreptitiously distribute propaganda. He sought direct political power within the system of electoral politics. Yet neither the Democrats nor the Republicans fit ted his needs. He considered creating a third party but decided against it. A new party would require huge sums of money, he reasoned, and encounter untold difficulties winning ballot status in many states. Worse, it would be ignored by conservative leaders. So he opted for joining the Republicans—but with a twist. Liberty Lobby would try to create its own faction inside the Republican Party, a disciplined "party within a party," as he described it. A short-lived organization calling itself United Republicans of America soon operated under Liberty Lobby’s tent.
Carto’s group was like a flea on this elephant until the ascent of Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) in 1964. This became Liberty Lobby’s first big chance to find new supporters. Although Goldwater lost badly to President Lyndon Johnson that year, he carried five states in the Deep South, states that had previously voted Democrat. The election was a portent of white voting patterns to come. To further its own goals, Liberty Lobby published truckloads of pro-Goldwater literature during the campaign. A Labor for Goldwater leaflet argued that white trade unionists should vote for the Republican candidate because he "opposes forcing your local [trade union] to take Negroes as members."21 The Lobby also produced a tabloid-style biography highly critical of President Johnson. It sold fourteen million copies, and Carto was ecstatic.
"Although many Conservative organizations have expanded their activities since LBJ, none has done so as dramatically as the Liberty Lobby," he crowed. Carto’s mailing list grew geometrically. At the start of the 1964 presidential election year, Liberty Letter had 17,000 paid subscribers. By November subscriptions had increased almost fivefold to 60,000. Six months after that it doubled again to 125,000.22
During this same period a major civil rights bill, with fair employment and public access provisions, was passed in Congress. The Voting Rights Act was passed a year later. Both pieces of legislation represented a significant defeat for segregationists and other conservatives. Liberty Lobby’s good fortune in the midst of these setbacks provides an early lesson in a seeming contradiction. A defeat for mainline conservatives can often translate into organizational success for their more radical cousins. Hoping to use these achievements as a platform for the future, Liberty Lobby published a program after the election titled The Conservative Victory Plan. When read five decades later, the Plan seems eerily prophetic. It describes how white conservative voters would desert the Democratic Party. "A rising tide of Negro voters will eradicate the Conservatives of one of the two parties in the South, leaving all the Conservatives in one party," it argued in 1965.23 "A factor pushing the Republican Party into being the natural vehicle for the expression of ‘White Rights’ is the inevitable movement of the Democratic Party in the South toward becoming an all-Black party."24
Although couched in the language of "conservative" politics at the time, the Plan promoted many of the themes that Liberty Lobby later gave fuller expression under the banners of "populism" and "America first nationalism." It urged opposition to free trade; it implored conservatives to abandon their hostile attitudes toward trade unions. It also advocated support of "responsible Negro nationalism" and "an end to centuries of racial strife through mutual recognition of the need for racial separation."25 In essence, it was a call to reverse the Brown decision and restore Jim Crow segregation, an idea with murderous proponents in the South at the time.
Despite Liberty Lobby’s manifest organizational success, the D.C.-based shop could not fulfill all of Carto’s political needs. As a result, he created a separate set of institutions on the West Coast less to pursue immediate practical political tasks than to carry on long-term ideological battles.
Western Destinyand the Fate of Francis Parker Yockey
Despite his expressed support for conservative ideas that aimed at restoring the status quo ante, Carto’s heart belonged to the revolutionary political philosophy enunciated by Francis Parker Yockey and its advocacy of a new racial order. Yockey was an unusual character by any standard. A figure from the postwar anti-Semitic netherworld, he had graduated cum laude from Notre Dame Law School in 1941. He opposed American military involvement in World War Two, then seemingly reversed himself and enlisted in the army. A year later he went AWOL and was eventually discharged from the service with a medical disability for dementia praecox, an archaic psychiatric diagnosis for schizophrenia. After the war he managed to get a job writing briefs for American prosecutors at war crime trials in Wiesbaden but was dismissed after only eleven months. Yockey then spent the next fifteen years living in Europe, working with the remnants of Hitler’s party in Germany, meeting with Arab nationalists, and fancying the creation of a European-wide "liberation front."26
Among American white supremacists, Yockey’s reputation rested on a six-hundred-page magnum opus entitled Imperium, written in 1948 while he lived in Ireland. Only a thousand copies of the first volume and two hundred of the second volume were initially published in England. Carto had read one of these rare early copies by 1955 and was obviously taken by its ideas.27
Borrowing from Oswald Spengler, a turn-of-the-century German philosopher, Yockey treated civilization as a biological organism with a life cycle. Civilizations are born, thrive, stagnate, and die. Imperium described in some detail Yockey’s version of how Greek civilization, Nordic mythology, and Teutonic traditions provided the original sources of European strength. Yockey argued further that Western Civilization was one unit, undivided by borders based on language, religion, or economic markets. And in his schema the fate of the "West" depended more on developments in Europe than on the United States. Yockey created a specific lingo to tell these tales. "Culture creators," by his account, were the highest stratum of a civilization. "Culture distorters" occupied the lowest rung. He believed mestizo and African populations were a virus infecting the culture of the United States. He also counted the "Church-State-Nation-People-Race of the Jew" as the most destructive of "culture distorters."28
Carto claimed that he differed with Yockey on several points. He believed that Yockey downgraded the significance of "race" as a biological structure in the creation of culture. Like Yockey’s, Carto’s reasoning began with the presumption that a civilization was the product of its culture-bearing stratum. Carto explicitly argued that this stratum was a specific population or racial group. He then extended his syllogism to the conclusion that if nations embodied a specific culture, then nations were composed (only) of a homogeneous racial group.29
For Carto the obverse was also true. Western Civilization had entered a period of decline as a result of a polluted gene pool, he contended. And his prescription for renewal called for cultural and economic autarchy: the isolated development of a racially based civilization, unsullied by any other input. Any "influx of alien ideas, ideals, religions and peoples" might ultimately kill the American (white) culture, Carto wrote while using an assumed name. On this count, he specifically faulted the aftereffects of slavery and non-European immigration into North America.30
What began as a discussion of culture creation ended up with a call for a blood and soil type of nationalism at odds with the ideas of civic identity that came to the fore after World War Two. Yockey and Carto’s argument that the West should be defended through a program of racial purity placed the ideas of both men outside the intellectual conventions of that time. Carto, however, spent his entire political career trying to find an avenue into the political mainstream. By contrast, Yockey lived and died on the edge of society. Despite this difference, when the two men met in person in June 1960, it was apparent that they shared a great affinity for each other. At the time, Carto still lived in San Francisco, the same city where Yockey was arrested on charges stemming from possession of multiple passports and false identification. Carto rushed to visit Yockey at the jail and twice went to his court hearings. And in the years that followed, Carto repeatedly described these events.
At the jail, a heavy screen stayed between them, but it didn’t prevent Carto from sensing Yockey’s powerful personality. "I knew that I was in the presence of a great force, and I could feel History standing aside me," Carto wrote after the event.31 At the court prehearings, Carto’s fascination bordered on the homoerotic. "His eyes bespoke great secrets and knowledge and such terrible sadness," he wrote as if they were intimates in a lifeboat on an unfriendly sea. "As his gaze swept across and then to me," Carto confessed, "he stopped and for the space of a fractional second, spoke to me with his eyes. In that instant we understood that I would not desert him."32 Just a few days later Francis Parker Yockey, dressed only in underwear and his knee-high storm trooper–style boots, took a capsule of potassium cyanide that he had somehow obtained and burned his mouth before dying in the jail cell.33
After Yockey’s suicide, Carto secured the rights to Imperium and reprinted it as one volume in 1962, using his own imprint, Noontide Press. He wrote an introduction for the book under his own name.34The Yockey faith, he believed, could "reconquer the Soul of the West."35 Carto also made an unusually unabashed declaration of white supremacist beliefs in the introduction: "Unbiased anthropologists consider the White race to be the highest evolutionary development of life on this planet."36 Two years later Carto’s Noontide Press began publishing a twenty-four-page plain paper periodical, Western Destiny. It promoted Yockey’s philosophy while discussing topics such as evolutionary biology, classical Rome, and the supposed virtues of the Nordic ideal. Not quite a magazine for theory, neither was it intended for a mass market. Rather, it became a vehicle for ideas then newly percolating among Carto and his ideological peers.
Carto knew that most run-of-the-mill segregationists attracted to Liberty Lobby at that time would find the Yockey faith off-putting, so he kept the two enterprises as separate as possible. Liberty Lobby, after all, was headquartered on the East Coast. Western Destiny was published from the West Coast, and Carto often used the name E. L. Anderson when writing in its pages.
"Culture creators," "culture bearers," and "culture destroyers" inhabited the new magazine’s pages. One of its first editorials argued, for example, that "tolerance can often be a culture-retarding and culture distorting weakness."37 Although the magazine’s use of Yockeyisms guaranteed it a relatively small audience, Carto modestly considered Western Destiny "the most notable publishing venture in the English-speaking world."38 He was, after all, both its publisher and one of its editors. It attracted an international readership, including Europeans interested in its discussions of art and politics. Its readers included a young David Duke, who cut his first ideological teeth on its pages.39 And among the Americans associated with the project, several contributing writers became significant personalities on their own terms over the next two decades.40 One of those, a man calling himself Wilmot Robertson, requires special mention here.
The author who used the nom de plume Wilmot Robertson was actually named Humphrey Ireland. An erudite and well-bred character about ten years older than Carto, he publicly described himself as a native of Pennsylvania with a long American pedigree, dating back before the Civil War. To friends and associates, Robertson claimed to have attended Yale University before World War Two, lived briefly in Germany during the 1930s, and then dodged American wartime repression of Hitler sympathizers.41 Robertson’s Western Destiny contributions usually treated cultural issues and the fine arts. Carto’s constant huckstering annoyed Robertson, however, and he eventually pursued his own separate path.
In 1972, Robertson self-published a six-hundred-page tome entitled The Dispossessed Majority. Part nineteenth-century anthropology, part scientific racism, the text was accessible to anyone with a quality high school education. Unlike the dense Spenglerian lingo of Yockey’s Imperium, this book could actually be read and understood by activists. Robertson’s argument was unabashed in its simplicity: "Minority participation in politics and in every other sector of American life has now increased to where it can be said that the Majority is no longer the racial Establishment of the United States."42
Further, he argued, "the idea of innate racial equality had become so firmly established in modern education and in the communications media that no one could question it."43 The contradictory character of Robertson’s claims should not be lost. In his schema, the idea of white supremacy had once provided the rationale for slaveowning, colonialism, and empire. In the context of the 1960s, this same ideological construct described the loss of positions of dominance, in part because of changes wrought by a transformation in accepted ideas about "innate racial equality." Indeed, in the white supremacist mind-set, political power had always been an all-or-nothing contest between the races. And during the last half of the twentieth century, it was a battle they believed they were losing.
Western Destiny devoted itself to questions related to this seeming loss of privilege and position. Carto’s editorial partner in this project was Roger Pearson,44 a British expatriate who had become a devotee of Aryanism while living on the Indian subcontinent. By training an anthropologist, Pearson held several different university positions over the years. From 1956 to 1963 he was best known as the publisher of Northern World, a magazine that emphasized eugenics, a set of ideas particularly unpopular in the years immediately following World War Two. It claimed that selective breeding can improve the human gene pool, and thus humanity, and other faux scientific claims. While publishing the newsletter Right, Carto had done double duty as a junior editor on Pearson’s project. And their partnership extended to the new Yockeyite magazine.45
The joint venture fell apart in 1966, and Western Destiny ceased publication. It turned out to be the least hostile political divorce among Carto’s many such separations. The lack of publicly expressed venom by Carto may have been a result of Pearson’s own independent standing and prestige. After his career diverged from Carto’s, Pearson too made a mark among a second generation of so-called scientific racists. He stayed in the United States and continued to promote both scientific racism and anti-Semitism.46 But he left the Yockey cult in favor of a career as a professional anti-communist. In 1978 he became chairman of the World Anti-Communist League, an international conglomeration of South Korean intelligence assets, European far right groups, Latin American death squads, and their North American masters.47 He was eventually dismissed from that position. During the same period Pearson also served at the Heritage Foundation as editor of Policy Review, the conservative think tank’s flagship periodical. For these services to the causes of anti-communism and conservative respectability, Pearson later won a letter of support from President Ronald Reagan: "Your substantial contributions to promoting and upholding those ideals and principles that we value at home and abroad are greatly appreciated."
For Carto, the years after Western Destiny included his own growth into a major figure among white supremacists. And after Governor George Wallace’s presidential bids, Carto emerged as a godfather to the generation of white supremacist activism that followed.
Governor George Wallace, Liberty Lobby, and Youth for Wallace
The story of George Wallace has been told multiple times. He began his political career as a relatively moderate Democrat in the Alabama House of Representatives but soon became famous as a vitriolic defender of the segregated South. His 1963 inaugural address included invocations to Confederates Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, the "Great Anglo-Saxon Southland," and the Christian faith. In words that defined him long after his death, Wallace proclaimed: "In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod the earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever."48 He gained national attention when he stood in a schoolhouse door in a symbolic attempt to block court-ordered integration at the University of Alabama. Acting under Wallace as Alabama’s Democratic governor, his state authorities spied on, beat, and jailed civil rights activists. He allowed Klan groups a murderous free rein and paid little attention to their many victims. His closest advisers were hard-core racists and (anti-Semitic) conspiracy theorists, and his chief speechwriter was a former Klansman. When Wallace launched a bid for president during the 1964 Democratic Party primaries, he surprised poll watchers by receiving a third of the primary votes in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland—all states outside his southern base.49
Carto and Liberty Lobby supported Wallace instinctively. Liberty Lobby produced a pro-Wallace pamphlet in 1965, Stand Up for America: The Story of George C. Wallace, and mailed out 175,000 copies to its own supporters. Another 150,000 copies belonged to Wallace’s campaign, which regularly distributed the Liberty Lobby publication on its own.50 When Wallace’s speechwriter convened a meeting of racist and far right leaders in 1966 to jump-start a 1968 bid, Carto was invited and sent a representative. 51
Wallace decided to run a third party presidential campaign outside both the Republican and Democratic parties in 1968. He named his third party the American Independent Party, but never called a national convention or took other serious steps to build a party apparatus free of his campaign. Instead, his most trusted lieutenants ran a top-down operation from headquarters in Montgomery. Nevertheless, outside the Alabama home base, far right groups provided much of the campaign’s muscle. Paramilitary outfits such as the Minutemen in the Midwest and the Klan in the South found themselves Wallace allies. Larger groups such as the John Birch Society worked in tandem with smaller sects. Segregationists rubbed elbows with men from the national socialist world. Within this milieu, Liberty Lobby blipped on the screen much like any other group.52
Large areas of congruence existed between Wallace’s 1968 campaign and Liberty Lobby’s most immediate goals. Yet the matchup was not one-to-one. As Seymour Lipset and Earl Raab point out in The Politics of Unreason, Wallace "never developed either a well-constructed conspiracy theory or an ideological racism." Carto had both. Wallace had not started his career and did not end it as a racist. In the 1960s he followed behind the racist sentiment that already existed. Carto hoped instead to lead it. Wallace was a politician first who embraced racism second. Carto was an anti-Semite and white supremacist first, last, and always.
In order to set himself apart from all the other racists supporting Wallace, Carto created a separate organization called Youth for Wallace. Conceptually, the idea had potential to mine a definable trend among young whites. One poll found that 25 percent of those voters under twenty-nine years old favored Wallace, five points higher than the percentage of support among older voters. Another survey showed a class line among these young whites, with decidedly more support coming from blue-collar families.53 They saw themselves opposed to both middle-class white antiwar students and the black freedom movement, as well as to the government, which was forcing them to fight a no-win war. Existing conservative student groups, which usually supported the war policy without question, were not positioned to capture this particular sentiment. Youth for Wallace distributed literature during the campaign, organized on campuses, and sent solicitations through the mail. Membership grew to fifteen thousand on the mailing list.
The 1968 campaign year was the most tumultuous since the Civil War and Reconstruction. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in April by a gunman tied to white supremacists. Robert Kennedy, brother of the late President John Kennedy, ran in the Democratic Party primaries as the peace candidate until he too was assassinated the night of the California primary. Urban rebellions, the Vietnam War, and student unrest further put the country’s teeth on edge. That August antiwar demonstrations at the Democratic Party’s convention degenerated into a Chicago police riot. On election night in November, Republican Richard Nixon became president. But George C. Wallace and the American Independent Party, in a three-way contest, won ten million votes. He carried the South, winning a majority in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Although South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee went for Nixon, Wallace received more than 30 percent of the vote in all three states. In Florida, Virginia, and Oklahoma his totals exceeded 20 percent. He also won remarkably high levels of support in the North and Midwest. Altogether, he received 13 percent of the general election total, revealing a stratum in the electorate that white supremacists later sought to capture for themselves.
Wallace’s career as a lightning rod for racist sentiment effectively ended after an assassination attempt in 1972 left him partially paralyzed. After the campaigns, groups as varied as the Klan, the Citizens Councils, and the Birch Society drifted without direction. They had invested time and resources into the Wallace movement, but they came out of it with less influence and power than when they had gone in.
But not Carto; he continued to push on, bridging the defeats suffered by old-line segregationists during the 1960s with the resurgence of a new generation of white supremacists in the mid-1970s. Liberty Lobby ended the 1960s larger and stronger than when the decade began. No longer renting office space in the National Press Club, it had its own (three-story) building within blocks of Capitol Hill. Its temporary advisory board had grown into a full-time staff and regular publication of Liberty Letter, an all-purpose periodical with 170,000 subscribers. A special mailing list counted 23,000 donors. A third list contained the names of 230,000 former supporters.54
Carto sought to transform Youth for Wallace into a new organization, the National Youth Alliance, and he succeeded at first. A founding meeting that November at the Army and Navy Club in D.C. drew many of the old officers from the Wallace support group. Carto started raising funds for the new outfit and selecting a different "advisory board," more radically racist in its orientation. He also hired one of the new organization’s members for a position at Liberty Lobby. In the subsequent months the National Youth Alliance sponsored several regional meetings, including a January 1969 event at Conley’s Motor Hotel in Monroeville, outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was here that the youth organization first began to unravel.
Several officers in the new group objected to the content and tenor of the meeting and an attendant social at a supporter’s home. They claimed the affair was awash in Nazi heraldry, including women who wore swastika jewelry and men who sang the "Horst Wessel Lied," a Nazi Party anthem from the 1930s. The host and emcee promoted a new booklet by Carto’s West Coast enterprise, Noontide Press, Myth of the Six Million55 It argued that the Nazi genocide was a figment of the Jewish imagination. One of the formal presentations was entitled "Plato the Fascist." During his speech, Carto claimed that the United States was disintegrating from moral turpitude and the degenerate influence of democracy, and he reeled out a scenario by which Liberty Lobby could gain state power.56 But the guts of his talk that night were spent resurrecting the specter of Francis Parker Yockey, detailing their jailhouse meeting and describing the important role that the book Imperium possessed.
The dissident officers were more attuned to a Wallace-like conservative racism than to any kind of openly anti-Semitic Yockeyite Hitlerism. They also objected to the direction Carto was taking the organization. A brief seesaw battle for control ensued, but Carto easily vanquished the upstart factionalists.57 A couple of young Liberty Lobby employees incorporated the National Youth Alliance in D.C. and gave Carto formal control of the name and finances.58 An office was opened, and a small staff began accrediting the formation of new chapters and reorganizing program priorities. Standard conservative causes went out. Promoting Yockey came in. A special paperback edition of Imperium was published.59 The mathematical sign for inequality, two short parallel lines with a nullifying single crosshatch, became the organization’s logo. "Free men are not equal, Equal Men are not free" was the slogan.
The National Youth Alliance was not yet self-supporting, however, and after one of the officers signed a promissory note, Carto pumped fifty thousand dollars into the outfit. By August 1970 the young Yockeyites had run out of funds again; this time the officers refused to sign another IOU.60 Another fight for control of the corporate identity began. The contest ended differently, however, as William Luther Pierce entered the fray.
Excerpted from Blood and Politics by Leonard Zeskind.
Copyright © 2009 by Leonard Zeskind.
Published in 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction
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