03 Apr Henry Ford — Not Such a Good Role Model
President Obama is set to give a speech later today criticizing Paul Ryan’s budget plan. That’s all well and good — the plan is a study in right-wing extremism. But one of Obama’s historical references is more than a little problematic. From his prepared remarks (my emphasis):
“In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled-down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. That’s why studies have shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.”
Henry Ford might have paid his workers a good salary, but he was also a notorious anti-semite and supporter of the Nazis, from whom he accepted the Grand Cross of the Golden Eagle in 1938, Germany’s highest honor for foreigners. (Hitler had a photo of Ford on the wall of his office in Munich.) Here’s a snippet from the Jewish Virtual Library’s entry on a series of booklets that Ford published when he was the editor of the Dearborn Independent in the early 1920s, entitled “The International Jew”:
The International Jew portrayed Jews as monolithic, malicious schemers plotting to control the planet. “If there is one quality that attracts Jews, it is power,” the book stated. “Wherever the seat of power may be, thither they swarm obsequiously.”
The Dearborn Independent saw Jews as carrying out “revolutionary programs to break up the present control of society.” These “revolutionary programs” revolve around economic control: the Jewish plan is “to control the world, not by territorial acquisition, not by military aggression, not by governmental subjugation, but by control of the machinery of commerce and exchange.” According to The International Jew, “it is not merely that there are a few Jews among international financial controllers; it is that these world-controllers are exclusively Jews.” The book claimed that “the motion picture influence of the United States, of the whole world, is exclusively under the control, moral and financial, of the Jewish manipulators of the public mind.”
The International Jew did not portray Jews as individuals, but as a single-minded, calculating cabal. Conflict among Jews, no matter how real, was painted as a sly trick, part of the Jewish plot. Even the conflict between socialist Jews and capitalist Jews was denied. Jewish socialists and Jewish businesspeople were believed to be working in tandem, “with Jewish capital at one end of the Gentile working scheme putting the screws on the manufacturers, and with Jewish agitators and disruptionists and subversives at the other end of the Gentile working scheme putting the screws on the workmen.”
According to The International Jew, demonstrably true Jewish accounts of pogroms in Russia were nothing but fabrications. “This propaganda of pogroms – ‘thousands upon thousands of Jews killed’ – amounts to nothing except as it illustrates the gullibility of the Press,” the book stated. “No one believes this propaganda and governments regularly disprove it.” Such statements foreshadowed the pernicious lies spread today by Holocaust deniers.
The International Jew blamed nearly all the troubles it saw in American society on Jews. “Whichever way you turn to trace the harmful streams of influence that flow through society, you come upon a group of Jews,” it claimed. Even problems with the “national pastime” were attributed to Jewish influence: “If ‘fans’ wish to know the trouble with American baseball, they have it in three words – too much Jew.”
President Obama might want to think twice about citing Henry Ford as an economic role model.