Huey Long was murdered before ever leaving a lasting impression. People thought of Long as a positive influence on a country whose upper echelon refused to let wealth trickle down. Long's insistence on increased taxation of the wealthy was something Father Coughlin agreed with wholeheartedly.
Some speculate it was Long's death that prompted a more no-holds-barred way of communication from Coughlin. In 1936, the humble Roman Catholic radio host became a vigilant naysayer of money-hungry, country-disruptive financial practices. He became convinced that President Roosevelt and his "Jewish conspirators" were keeping the country from reaching its full potential.
Father Coughlin soon found he had competition. Monsignor John A. Ryan, another nationally known priest, turned on Coughlin after Coughlin's shunning of Roosevelt and increasingly anti-Semitic viewpoints. Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, and Bishop Francis Spellman continuously worked to get the Vatican to silence Coughlin. In 1936, Coughlin was ordered silent by the Vatican.
Father Coughlin never wavered in his speech, however, and as the year drew on, his radio show became ripe with anti-Semitic tones. He blamed Jewish bankers for the Russian Revolution, and cited that Jewish influence created great turmoil in the region. In 1938, Coughlin published a newspaper, Social Justice, which for all intents and purposes, was a newspaper aimed at directly attacking Jewish people.
The times had watched Father Coughlin lend support to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Then at a speech Coughlin gave in the Bronx – perhaps his most famous – he gave a Nazi salute and yelled out, "When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing." Proving this statement wasn't a one-time lapse of judgment, Coughlin stated "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted," after the Jews across Germany were attacked, killed and burned out of house and home.
His speeches and programs were becoming even more anti-Semitic from that point, and radio stations in New York and Chicago began refusing to air his content without first pre-approving his scripts. One of the only available stations for Coughlin was the small WHBI in Newark, New Jersey.
Father Coughlin's anti-Semitism made him a hero in Nazi Germany, where newspapers ran daily, stating that "America is not allowed to hear the truth." Some of the American public shared Coughlin's views, and 2,000 supporters gathered and marched in New York, protesting the migration of Jewish refugees from Hitler's camps. These protests were not short-lived; they went on for several months, and Coughlin embraced his supporters.
At the height of his anti-Semitism, Coughlin had joined forces with an organization named the "Christian Front," which cited the now-famous priest as a vital influence. In 1940, the FBI shut down the Christian Front, after discovering the group was arming itself and planning to murder Jews, communists, and even United States Congressmen. Although Father Coughlin was never directly linked with the Christian Front, he never disassociated himself from their radical intentions. His reputation soon declined as a result.
See also: Anti-Semitic Quotes
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