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

12

Passing On

Lawrence Dennis's postwar travails seemingly had no surcease. There was the unsightly blot of being deemed a leading fascist in a nation where the concept of “totalitarianism” had linked this prior foe with the new one—communism. He had left his family behind in an attempt to escape the bonds of Jim Crow, then was left to watch in amazement—and further isolation—as this system of apartheid began to erode.

Well, at least he had the salving balm of his immediate family—then in 1956 his spouse, no doubt overtaxed by her role as housekeeper and administrator of his Newsletter, left him. “I have been having domestic difficulties,” he informed a friend. “Eleanor has left me and is suing for a divorce.” Dennis moved to a small room at the Harvard Club in Manhattan.

There were a few rays of light, as he surveyed his crumbling world. His daughter Emily “had graduated from Vassar in 1955 and now has a job in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.” His other daughter, Laura, was at Barnard.1 This was fine but as Dennis was entering his dotage there was no escaping that this isolationist was increasingly isolated.

It was a “difficult divorce,” said Dennis with sadness, seemingly heaving from the accumulated personal and political burdens he had to bear. He sought to recover, wedding “the widow of Wilbur Burton, who was a foreign correspondent for the 'Baltimore Sun,'” though it was unclear if he shared with her the deepest secrets about his ancestry.2 His “dear wife Dora” proved to be a faithful companion, until she too passed away a few years before Dennis himself passed on.3

But even in the best of times, a divorce can be emotionally wracking. Piled upon Dennis's other troubles, this divorce was notably debilitating. “It is just hard to believe Eleanor can be so mad,” he moaned; “what jolts

-171-

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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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