The Making of an Anti-semite; Pelley, Editor, Began As Psychic
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The Making of an Anti-semite; Pelley, Editor, Began As Psychic

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It is always interesting to Jews to acquaint themselves with the career of anti-Semites, especially of newly-heralded anti-Semites. It gives them an inkling of what is back of this anti-Semitism and what makes up the workings of the anti-Semite’s mind. An interesting case in point is that of William Dudley Pelley, novelist, psychic and anti-Semite. Pelley’s anti-Semitism is particularly curious because it is supposed to be dictated from Heaven. But let us begin at the beginning.

The beginning of Pelley’s present state of mind apparently goes back several years to a time when he achieved sudden prominence as a psychic. Previously, he had made a reputation for himself as a novelist and newspaperman, a writer of mystery and of love stories. He suddenly startled the world, however, with an article in the American Magazine which he called “My Seven Minutes in Eternity”. This article purported to represent an experience in which Pelley’s soul left his body for the period of seven minutes and wandered throughout the domain of the next world. It was a very startling article and there was such a demand for it that the American Magazine reprinted the article in the form of a pamphlet and sold the pamphlet by the hundreds of thousands.


Some time after this event, Pelley organized the New Liberator, a publication devoted to psychic thought. Most of the articles in this magazine Pelley claimed were “psychically dictated” to him by spirit forces. It happened that at that particular time I myself was interested in the subject of psychic research and had written rather extensively on that subject. In some manner or other I came into contact with the New Liberator and the result was that Pelley asked me to write for him an article explaining why the Jews ran to extremes. Why, asked Pelley, were the Jews either rank vulgarists on the one hand or extremely spiritual on the other?

The New Liberator suffered many vicissitudes. It was originally published from New York, suspended publication several times, and then moved to Washington, where it suddenly began to appear under the auspices of the League of Christian Economists. It is fair to note that up to that time Pelley’s magazine had not been anti-Semitic. Even from Washington it appeared very irregularly and suspended publication several times. Also, from that time, the tenor of Pelley’s articles began to change. Although at first emphasizing only psychic subjects and explaining the history of the world in a mystical light, Pelley henceforth began to preach of a “Christian civilization”, condemning all un-Christian elements. He began to talk of the “Christ” and the “anti-Christ”. All this time he had not once mentioned the word “Jews”, but it was evident that his “anti-Christ” referred to the Jews.


It was at this juncture that I began to become a trifle perplexed. Here was an individual who claimed his articles were “psychically dictated”, that is, they were divinely inspired, and this divine inspiration was slowly taking the direction of anti-Semitism. Was it possible that God, also, hated the Jews? I could not conceive that any divine afflatus woud sanction hatred, whether it be hatred of the Jews or hatred of anything else, particularly since Pelley was attempting to preach a militant Christianity, which I always knew represented a religion of love.

Soon after, Pelley moved his magazine to Asheville, N. C., where it is now published. The name was changed to “Liberation”. It appeared spasmodically and, as in the case of previous occasions, Pelley appealed for funds for the support of the journal. At one time—I do not remember whether it was from New York or Washington—he attempted to sell stock to his readers in his new enterprise. However, Pelley began a new lease of life from the South and brought into existence his “Silver Shirt” movement.

It is only within the past few months that Pelley has openly preached anti-Semitism. He has attacked the international Jewish bankers and the international Jewish communists. He has stated that while he is not actually in favor of a pogrom, the Jews will get what is coming to them and Hitler is a fine fellow. He still claims his articles are psychically inspired.

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