The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States

By Gerald Horne | Go to book overview

6

Approaching Disaster

Dennis was leading what appeared to be a charmed existence, with a growing public profile that generated handsome speaking fees, increased subscriptions to his self-published newsletter, where he was able to pontificate about matters large and small, and, consequently, multiple residences. There was a material basis for Dennis's relative success—or so thought an investigator for the House Un-American Activities Committee, which ordinarily hounded Communists while giving fascists a pass. However, one of their investigators, James Metcalfe, observed in 1938 that “American firms in Germany were among the first to contribute to Hitler's religious program,” and this list was a veritable all-star team of the corporate world: “Ford” and “Woolworth” leading the pack, while “the largest single contributor was the American Steel [company] in Dusseldorf, that is the United States Steel corporation”; the “Ford Motor Company has hired,” it was said, “a large number of people who are today members of the German American Bund,” a grouping known for its fervent pro-fascist sentiments.1 Dennis would argue that this U.S. sympathy for fascism was also a material basis for his own prosperity but the FBI was not as certain. His “standard of living,” it was said, “is in excess of his known income indicating money from undisclosed sources,” believed to be Berlin-based.

His newsletter had a paltry “two hundred subscribers” at $24 per year, yet he had an office in the high-rent district at 205 East 42nd Street in Manhattan, a home in Bergen County, and another in western Massachusetts in the picturesque Berkshire Mountain district. He had two automobiles—a “Mercury and a station wagon”—at a time when many families had none.2 With incredulity the FBI noted “in Becket [Massachusetts] he maintains a very nice home, living quite comfortable [sic], not wanting for any necessities and for very few luxuries,” though he “makes $400 a month from his paper.” Dennis's “doctor” who was in

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The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction - More Than Passing Strange 1
  • 1: Passing Fancy? 17
  • 2: Passing Through 31
  • 3: Fascism 44
  • 4: The Face—of Fascism 59
  • 5: Fascism and Betrayal 71
  • 6: Approaching Disaster 85
  • 7: Framing a Guilty Man? 98
  • 8: Fascism on Trial 112
  • 9: A Trial on Trial 126
  • 10: After the Fall 140
  • 11: An Isolationist Isolated? 156
  • 12: Passing On 171
  • Notes 179
  • Index 209
  • About the Author 229
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