Anti-Semitism in the United States

November 14, 1941

Report Outline
Anti-Semitism in the Isolationist Campaign
Use of Anti-Semitism as Political Weapon
Anti-Semitic Activities in United States
Jewish Participation in American Life

Anti-Semitism in the Isolationist Campaign

Charles A. Lindbergh, speaking at an America First rally in Des Moines, September 11, 1941, charged that “the three most important groups which have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt administration.” While conceding that the persecution suffered by the Jews in Germany “would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race,” he asserted that “instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way, for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.” Lindbergh went on to say of the Jews that “their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government.”

Only two days before Lindbergh spoke at Des Moines, a subcommittee of the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee, four of whose five members were opponents of the administration's foreign policy, had opened an inquiry concerning alleged pro-war movie propaganda. Appearing as the first witness before the subcommittee, Senator Nye (R., N. D.). who with Senator Bennett Clark (D., Mo.) had sought the investigation, strenuously denied that in doing so he had been animated by anti-Semitic bias. After listening to his full testimony on the subject of the inquiry, Wendell Willkie, counsel for the movie interests, nevertheless charged, in a statement inserted in the record, that it proved “without the possibility of a disagreement” that Nye “desires to foster and create public prejudices against the motion-picture industry and thus attempt to high-pressure it to stop producing accurate and factual pictures on Nazism,” and that he “obviously is seeking to divide the American people into discordant racial and religious groups, in order to disunite them over the United States foreign policy…”

Reactions to Lindbergh's Accusations at Des Moines

Lindbergh's open appeal to anti-Semitism, following a series of instances in which isolationist speakers had seemed to be trying, by indirection or innuendo, to stir up racial feeling, strengthened suggestions that anti-interventionist leaders were deliberately making use of anti-Semitism as a weapon with which to further their cause. Resort to such tactics was widely condemned. In a letter tendering his resignation from the America First Committee, September 17, Edward L. Ryerson, chairman of the board of the Inland Steel Company, said it was “apparent that we have been brought face to face with an emergency that may mean active participation in war at any moment,” and that “to deal successfully with such an emergency demands, above all else, unified action by all our people.” He added:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Holocaust and Antisemitism
Jun. 2008  Anti-Semitism in Europe
Feb. 12, 1993  Europe's New Right
Apr. 12, 1967  Neo-Nazism in West Germany
Feb. 18, 1953  Neo-Nazism in Germany
Jan. 05, 1953  Communist Anti-Semitism
Nov. 14, 1941  Anti-Semitism in the United States
Aug. 02, 1935  Anti-Semitism in Germany
Feb. 24, 1926  The Protection of Minorities in Europe
Popular Culture
Race and Hate Crimes
Religion and Politics