American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansmen, Communists & Others

By John George; Laird Wilcox | Go to book overview

19. Gerald L. K. Smith and
Christian Nationalist Crusade

"I need Help!! Liberty at Stake!!! Jews Move in for the Kill!!! History is Being Made!!!!" This headline, hand-written in large, bold strokes across one-third of the front page was all that regular observers of the radical right from the forties to the mid-seventies needed to identify its source: a special newsletter from the Los Angeles and later Eureka Springs, Arkansas-based Christian Nationalist Crusade, conveying a typical appeal (predominantly for contributions) from one of America's most enduring radical rightists, Reverend Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith.

A large man with a magnetic personality, Smith had an oratorical style that eventually earned him the reputation as one of the greatest speakers who had ever leaned over a pulpit. The former dean of intolerance was a phenomenon of American extremism almost defying description. He was one of the few rightist leaders in the sixties and seventies with campaign ribbons from the tumultuous far-right battles during the Depression days of the thirties. Some might say that there was no one quite like him in America.

As mentioned in an earlier chapter, in 1942 Smith launched Christian Nationalist Crusade, his main vehicle for dispensing anti-Semitic and racist propaganda. He also formed the Christian Nationalist party in St. Louis in 1948, and became its candidate on a platform pledged to deport Zionists, destroy "Jewish Gestapo Organizations" and the United Nations, and ship Negroes to Africa. In 1952, from his Tulsa office Smith launched an anti-Eisenhower drive that culminated in a special meeting of "patriots" who held their own separate convention in Chicago.For president, they nominated General Douglas MacArthur, who took no notice of their action. Smith had once distributed a chart demonstrating Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Jewish ancestry." Now he found evidence that Eisenhower was also Jewish. Needless to say, his efforts to stop Eisenhower were hardly noticed.

Smith eventually made Los Angeles the main headquarters for his crusade, operating out of a post office box. He also maintained an "east" office in Tulsa. From Los Angeles The Cross and the Flag was mailed monthly to virtually all parts of the country. His front groups included the Nationalist News Service, Christian Youth Against Communism, American League Against Communism, Citizens Congressional Committee, Patriotic Strategy Committee, and the Henry Ford Memorial Commission.

In addition to The Cross and the Flag, which had a circulation of about

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