by Pat McGrady Author of Fascism in America
Money appears to be at the root of the Fascist evil. I have no evidence to show and, indeed, I do not believe, that George W. Christians, head of the Crusader White Shirts, has lost his amateur standing as a cheap politician. Well informed persons in Chattanooga, wherein the White Shirt headquarters are located, are convinced that the engineer has taken up the crusade to gain sufficient income to tide him over the depression. I am inclined to believe that his sole motive is an inordinate lust for power and glory.
Christians’ closest henchmen, however, are in the game purely for the money that is involved, and this Christians readily admits. While he, personally, parts with so little cash as to make his subsidies negligible, he cooperates with his helpers in their exploitation of the movement, and this constitutes racketeering of the most abominable sortâ€”trading on bigotry, racial and religious hatred and ultra-patriotism.
The Fascist racket, as it affects the leader of other movements, is more pronounced, and this will be discussed in later articles.
Christians’ instructions to organizers promise, “You will be well paid for your efforts.” He gives his organizers great latitude in the management of their business affairs. There is no evidence that he seeks a cut on their profits.
WRITES ON EQUIPMENT
On the matter of the sale of equipment, he writes his organizers:
“Organizers can obtain from the Chattanooga Button and Badge Manufacturing Company, Chattanooga, Tennessee, three by five feet Crusader flags at the cost of $3 and sets of insignia at 15 cents each (cash must accompany order) or he may get them elsewhere if he cares to. It is recommended that the flags be sold for $5. It is recommended that in new localities the insignia be sold for $1 per set at the start and that the price be reduced thereafter until finally those who have no money can be told that they can paint a red cross on any old white shirt or make their own.”
As to subsidies, Christians does not restrain his supporters from seeking funds from those who feel like contributing money in any quantity. Hence, all sorts of racketeers, trading on anti-Semitism, anti-administrationism, anti-Catholicism, or anti-anything that might appeal to the prejudices of gullible givers, have passed through Christians’ office seeking to capitalize on the new fad, Fascism.
So great has been the number of mulcters, that Miss E. Kelly, Christians’ secretary, once remarked to me, “I’m getting sick and tired of racketeers. I’ve listened to thousands of crooked schemes, each one more ingenious than the other.”
HOW IS NOT IMPORTANT
To each of these Christians gives credentials and sends out to work. He told me, “I don’t care how we get Economic Liberty, just so we get it. I’d rather have Dillinger as a crusader than any other person in the country. He gets what he’s after.”
Christians says that he prefers revolutionaries in his ranks to reformers. “The difference between reformers and revolutionists,” he once said, “is that revolutionists do not hesitate to reform with guns, knowing full well that bullets are far more persuasive than words.”
He believes that in the United States there exists four sharply defined temperaments. Hence he has divided the country into four different propaganda centers. To the Far West reformers he sends literature under the letterhead, “Crusaders For Economic Liberty”; to the Middle West Nazis he sends literature under the letterhead, “Crusader White Shirtsâ€”The American Fascists”; to the Southeast revolutionists he writes as “The American Reds”; and to the East he writes in accordance with the particular slant of any group he may be approaching for support.
SHEA FLAGRANT RACKETEER
One of the most flagrant racketeers in Christians’ ranks is George Shea, who includes among his aliases the name of Seers. Shea, according to Christians, promotes Communism and the Christians’ brand of Fascism alternately as he passes from red to brown sections of the country. Christians describes him as being a powerful, uncouth fellow with a tremendous voice capable of drowning out all opposition. His specialty is “capturing” meetings by out-shouting the speaker.
According to Christians, Shea has landed in jail in almost every city to which he was sent to agitate. Christians confessed that he is privately pleased when his lieutenant falls into the hands of the law, because this affords opportunity for demonstrations against “police repression” and these demonstrations always publicize the movement. Christians painted Shea as a thorough scoundrel and accused him of almost all the minor and many of the major categories of crime. But, nevertheless, he conceded Shea’s great worth to his cause.
When Shea was released from jail in New Orleans last winter, he returned to Chattanooga on a freight train. Christians gave him a few meals, some Crusader insignia and credentials, and paid his fare on a cheap bus route to Columbus, Georgia. In Columbus, Shea agitated, alternately for the Communists and Crusaders, passing the hat each time. When he was thrown into jail for addressing a Communist demonstration, Crusaders took it upon themselves to get him out. He was released a few weeks ago, and after visiting his chief in Chattanooga, left again by cheap bus for Chicago, where, headquarters expect, he will again land in jail.
To be sure, a number of those subscribing to Economic Liberty and paying varying sums to be “enrolled” among the White Shirt Crusaders must be earnest individuals. The initiation ceremony consists of the applicants “lining up in military formation, giving the military salute to the American flag, and then hearing read the American Declaration of Economic Independence. While giving the crusader salute with right arm raised and fist clenched they repeat in unison the last sentence of this Declaration. This is from Christians’ “Instructions to Organizers.”
Christians describes the founding of the ceremony: “One day a number of local Ku Kluxers wanted me to make a movement of this economic theory. They insisted that I devise some sort of a ritual. I just picked up the Declaration of Independence, struck out a line here and there and inserted a lot of stuff, and told them to go ahead and form their movement.”
The last paragraph of the “Declaration of Economic Independence,” so casually drawn up for the sake of the Kluxers states, ends as follows: “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
This, as well as much of the rest of the “Declaration of Economic Independence,” is identical with the high-minded sentiments of the founders of American Democracy. The plagiarism of efforts of true patriots is now unscrupulously capitalized upon by bands of racketeers like Shea and serves the purposes of demagogues like Christians and a hundred other Fascist leaders who boast with vain conceit that they “intend rendering America back to Americans.”
(To Be Continued Tomorrow)