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Thorkelson’s Future in Congress Seen Endangered by His Anti-semitism

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Representative Jacob Thorkelson (Rep., Mont.), who in his first term in Congress has been stamped an anti-Semite, was the subject over the week-end of columns in the New York Post and the New York World Telegram.

Writing in the Post on Friday, Samuel Grafton disclosed that Mr. Thorkelson in his successful campaign against Jerry O’Connell last fall had resorted to arguments commonly used in refuting anti-Semitic and anti-alien allegations. When Mr. O’Connell had raised the issue that Mr. Thorkelson, who has gained notoriety as an alien-baiter, was himself not a born American, Mr. Thorkelson is quoted as having replied:

“One reason for exposing this fountain of infamy which ejects nothing but poisonous gases, is because he (O’Connell) has deliberately insulted, not only myself, but all other naturalized citizens….I have often wondered, when listening to certain political candidates, what sort of a kink they have in their mental machinery….These men offer nothing constructive but wear themselves out fighting imaginary foes. They set up bogies and then work themselves into a lather knocking them down. I can only pity such warped mentalities….From beginning to end you cannot find one constructive thought…a hodge-podge of attacks, accusations and insinuations bristling with misstatements and untruths.”

Writing in Saturday’s World Telegram, Washington correspondent Bruce Catton declared Mr. Thorkelson, whom he described as an ex-sea captain and distinguished surgeon, was in “grave danger of becoming an object lesson for freshman Congressmen” because he was “rapidly becoming stamped with the most fatal of stamps — that of anti-Semitism.” Mr. Catton reported that Mr. Thorkelson, as a result of his anti-Semitic remarks in the Congressional Record, had attracted to his office “the lunatic fringe of the various shirt organizations.”

Declaring Mr. Thorkelson had made himself conspicuous by sitting in General Moseley’s corner while the retired anti-Semitic army man was being questioned by the Dies committee, Mr. Catton continued: “Basically, he is a down-the-middle Western conservative, a sworn foe of the ‘money trust’ , a disbeliever in all isms and a sound-money man. But Moseley, Pelley and Deatherage have called on him, the above-mentioned lunatic fringe him with phone calls, letters and personal appearances, and he is getting shoved over into the camp which blames everything on the radical — and then assumes that all radicals are Jews.”

Citing details in Mr. Thorkelson’s career which have served to make him a colorful personality, Mr. Catton continued: “And the point of it all is that with all of this background, plus the favorable spot he got into by coming down to Washington as the man who beat Mr. O’Connell, Congressman Thorkelson could have gone places in politics. The first rule for freshman Congressmen is: Keep your mouth shut, learn the ropes, do jobs for your constituents and let nature take its course…..Instead he made speeches. He let some of them sound anti-Semitic. And recently his fellow members began to do an unheard-of-thing — when he asked leave to revise and extend his remarks in the Congressional Record, they kept him from doing it. Both Majority Leader Rayburn and Representative Barton (Rep.,N.Y.) publicly assailed the material he had put into the record. As a result, unless he gets on a new tack very soon, Congressman Thorkelson will lose both his influence and his prospects. Which is a shame, because fundamentally he is a swell sort of person.”

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