Dearborn Beats Its Breast over Henry Ford's Anti-Semitism, Ignores Islam
Dearborn, Michigan's local historical commission has adopted a resolution calling on Mayor Jack O'Reilly to reverse his recent firing of the editor of the commission's quarterly magazine, the Dearborn Historian, over the January edition's cover story. O'Reilly also killed the issue's release, but the article was published anyway in the online news site, Deadline Detroit. The censored story, "Henry Ford and The International Jew," was meant to mark the centennial of Henry Ford acquiring a local newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. Ford used the paper to launch a 91-week series of anti-Semitic articles, repackaged into book form as The International Jew. As told by the quarterly's fired editor, veteran journalist Bill McGraw, The International Jew was "distributed across Europe and North America during the rise of fascism in the 1920s and '30s [and] influenced some of the future rulers of Nazi Germany." In 1931, Adolf Hitler, in Munich before he became chancellor, told a Detroit News reporter, "I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration." The International Jew also helped popularize the Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, similarly purporting "to show Jews are bent on world domination." It even "helped push Hitler further into 'conspiratorial anti-Semitism'" and influenced his writing in Mein Kampf.
Pretty heavy fare for a local historical journal with 230 subscribers. But why censor it? The mayor's office says he wanted "to protect the city's reputation for diversity and inclusion" and "distance the city from possible criticism for being seen as a source of despicable viewpoints." But how can Ford's bigotry in the 1920s draw criticism to Dearborn as a possible source of despicable viewpoints now?
There's a clue in McGraw's article, but it's not obvious. McGraw connects Ford's story to today by warning how Ford's "legacy of hate is stronger than ever — it flourishes on the websites and forums of white nationalists, racists and others who hate Jews." The Columbia Journalism Review says McGraw's article "ties Ford's legacy to the present-day hate that has been exposed in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and beyond." A local columnist lauds McGraw for trying "to alert the public ... that white supremacists continue to republish diatribes that originally appeared in the Dearborn Independent ... on social media today." But McGraw mentions only a single modern example of an anti-Semitic attack: last year's massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue by Robert Bowers. As for white supremacists, he cites "[t]wo examples of "Ford's influence ... today," both from a single white nationalist website, where one contributor uses Ford's picture as his icon and a second unknown person says nice things about Ford's book. Hardly the Second Rise of the Third Reich.
This brings us to the ambiguous phrase that may have the mayor of Dearborn — the city with the highest population of Muslims outside the Middle East — so scared: McGraw's reference to "white nationalists, racists and others who hate Jews." Leave out white nationalists and racists, and who's left? McGraw doesn't say. In his article, the anti-Semitism of Islamists and progressives is the dog that doesn't bark.
Or, as The Federalist's David Harsanyi observes, "Despite the horrific shooting in Pittsburgh and Jew hatred on the far Right, it's almost certain that the average American Jew is more likely to encounter an aggressively 'anti-Zionist' BDS activist on a campus (or a progressive march) than a white supremacist anywhere."
German scholar Matthias Küntzel has written that the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928, "was a crucial distributor" of Mein Kampf and the Protocols in Arabic before WWII. The Brotherhood, often invoking the Protocols for evidence of a "world Zionist conspiracy," worked closely with the Nazis in their shared goal of the extermination of the Jews. Now, wrote expert Robert S. Wistrich in Haaretz, the "apocalyptic anti-Semitism" of the Nazis "has returned to haunt Europe and other continents." In the Middle East, it's taking on "a particularly dangerous, toxic and potentially genocidal aura of hatred," making "pervasive use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion with its perennial theme of the 'Jewish conspiracy for world domination.'" What Wistrich calls an "inverted anti-Semitism which sails under the mask of 'anti-Zionism'" is growing, and it incorporates "the slanderous identification of Israel with Nazism or the 'ethnic cleansing' of the Palestinians."
More recently, the original 1988 charter of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood's affiliate in Gaza, cites the Protocols for evidence of the "limitless" Zionist plan for endless expansion. The revised charter calls the liberation of Palestine "the central cause for the Arab and Islamic Ummah" and rejects "any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea." Hezbollah's charter also "categorically reject[s] any compromise with Israel or recognizing its legitimacy." But this isn't just objection to the Israeli state. Hezb'allah chief Hassan Nasrallah said, "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli." In 2008 Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic reported seeing The International Jew and similar anti-Jewish books on display in Damascus, in the gift shop of the Sheraton Hotel.
Closer to home, newly seated U.S. representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are both unabashed anti-Semites. In 2012, Omar tweeted that "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel." Scott Johnson at RealClearPolitics called Omar "an Islamist hater of Israel ... [who] prayed for 'Allah to awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,' calling Israel an 'apartheid regime.'" Rashida Tlaib "wants to cut aid to the Jewish state because supporting it 'doesn't fit the values of our country.'" Tlaib was photographed with Palestinian activist Abbas Hamideh, "who said Israel did not have the right to exist, and has called for Israeli 'Zionist terrorist' Jews to return to Poland, where roughly three million Jews were killed during the Holocaust." She "headlined a BDS rally with fellow speaker, Dawud Walid, a flagrant anti-Semite who has blamed the 'wrath of Allah' on 'the Jews.'" Walid is an outspoken Islamist and the longtime head of Michigan's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood creation. Palestinian activist and Women's March heroine Linda Sarsour said, "American Muslims shouldn't 'humanize' Israelis." Sarsour's also pals with Tlaib, whom she describes as her "mentor and role model." After CNN fired Marc Lamont Hill for his speech at a U.N. event endorsing "violent 'resistance' against Jews" and urging worldwide action toward "a free Palestine from the river to the sea," Tlaib demanded that CNN rehire him. Tlaib recently tweeted that senators supporting an anti-BDS bill had divided loyalties, "one of the oldest and most blatantly anti-Jewish canards." Her tweet, "[t]hey forgot what country they represent," was particularly grotesque from a woman who celebrated her election by wrapping herself in a Palestinian flag. Both Omar and Tlaib bald-facedly lied to potential voters about their support for the BDS campaign and a one-state solution that eliminates Israel, then loudly resumed their true positions after the election. The world map in Tlaib's congressional office has a Post-It note marked "Palestine" over the State of Israel.
Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison, whose former congressional seat is now occupied by Ilhan Omar, said "that Jews were running American foreign policy." Ellison's always gotten a pass from media about his close association with "America's leading anti-Semite," the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan. Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus have been "schmoozing" with Farrakhan for years. David Harsanyi wonders that the same media who "see white supremacy behind every border security measure" maintain "a track record of tenaciously ignoring the anti-Semitism creeping into Democratic Party politics." Could this be why reporter Bill McGraw is so bashful about naming the "others who hate Jews"?
Mayor O'Reilly manages to preside over a city where the "Hamas/CAIR/Muslim Brotherhood nexus" is not hard to find, where people pay extra for smuggled cigarettes to cover Hezbollah's "resistance tax," and where a thousand young men will turn out to hail Hassan Nasrallah as their leader. He may well want to censor any conversation where "Dearborn" and "anti-Semitism" are mentioned in the same sentence. He needn't have bothered this time: McGraw wasn't telling the real story anyway.
T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at email@example.com.