Joseph Hansen

Labor-Haters Pour Money into Growing Coughlin Movement

(July 1939)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 49, 11 July 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2016 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2016; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

That the increasing boldness of Father Coughlin’s movement in attacking meetings of workers and wrecking their headquarters is bearing fruit with a large dollar sign is clearly shown by a number of significant occurrences.

Within the last month he has begun for the first time a daily radio program. He has contracted with a radio station in Detroit to appear five times daily with a program of organ music, prayer, an “inspirational” talk for “shut-ins,” and a commentary on the news events of the day interpreted in the light of Father Coughlin’s sixteen principles of so-called “social justice.”

Significant Expression

Father Coughlin himself comments in his personal magazine on the significance of this expansion. From one station he now hopes to increase his network of daily broadcasts across the entire country just as he increased his weekly “golden hour” from one station to a network of forty-eight.

The latest issue of Social Justice announces the winners of his $16,000 prize contest for essays on war. The contestants are scattered over eighteen states, centering mainly around Royal Oak, Michigan, but extending as far as California.

With the announcement of the winners, Coughlin announces also that besides the prize money distributed in this contest he has already given out a total of $27,460 in previous contests and that in the next issue of Social Justice he will open a new contest with prizes amounting to $6,500 which may be doubled to $13,000.

Demagogic Propaganda

The subjects on which the contestants were permitted to write in the $16,000 contest which has just ended reveal very clearly the demagogic character of Father Coughlin’s propaganda. Although many quotations from Father Coughlin’s speeches and writings can be given to show that he favors the building of a mighty capitalist navy and army in the United States, the subjects for the contest were as follows: “How to Keep America Out of War” (adult section), “Foreign Entanglements Lead to War” (Twelfth Grade), “The Cost of War” (Eleventh Grade), “Offensive Wars Settle Nothing” (Tenth Grade), “Offensive War Will Hurt America (Ninth Grade), “I Don’t Want War” (Eighth Grade), “Mothers Don’t Want War” (Seventh Grade), “Daddies Shouldn’t Have to Go to War” (Fifth and Sixth Grades).

Through these slogans Coughlin hopes to capitalize on the widespread and completely justified anti-war sentiment of the American people. But previous statements by Coughlin in favor of the war machine, the fact that he was one of the key men in putting Roosevelt’s War Deal into power shows that he will be among the first when war breaks to pound the drums of patriotism which will dragoon millions of Americans into the coming slaughter.

Milks the Poor

While the main sources of Coughlin’s huge income have never been revealed – America’s colossally rich Sixty Families stand like a sinister shadow in the background – Father Coughlin overlooks no possibility to milk the poor. On page 19 of the July 3 issue of Social Justice he projects a lurid picture of America in 1945.

“Six bishops, three Catholic and three Protestant, were executed yesterday morning in the basement of Tombs prison. Thousands of priests, ministers and nuns are in concentration camps ... orders have been issued at Comintern headquarters that persons displaying pictures of George Washington or otherwise paying homage to this bourgeois individual will be shot without trial.”

This, says Father Coughlin, is a picture of America under Communism, and if his readers would “save” America from this Red peril they must immediately send in their contributions of $1, $2, $3, $5, or anything higher.

Anti-Jewish Campaign

Father Coughlin’s campaign against the Jews continues undiminished.

“If the Jewish boycott succeeds,” he claims, “Germans will be forced to go to war to prevent their economic annihilation ... meanwhile the boycott continues its disastrous effect in the United States. Watch millions of bales of cotton rot in Southern warehouses. American farmers have to plow under or destroy their food surpluses” (page 5).

With this argument Coughlin blames the terrible want which exists in the midst of plenty in America not on the capitalist system, the system of turning over the wealth of the nation to a miserable handful of stockholders – the Sixty Families – but on the Jews. Despite the fact that he alleges he is not anti-Semitic and that he attacks only non-religious Jews, Coughlin does not make even this distinction in his Jew-baiting.

On the same page which carries his Jew-baiting, Coughlin lashes viciously against the labor movement, attacking the C.I.O. and its right to strike.

In Coughlin’s plan to establish fascism in America – by any name, even “Social Justice” – the Jews will be only the first to dangle from his noose. The next on the list will be whoever belongs to a trade union.

Coughlin’s movement is growing, and growing dangerously. If it is to be stopped it must be stopped NOW. And the only way to stop it is by organizing labor defense guards in every union local in the country.


Last updated on: 12 March 2016