BOSTON (Oct. 23)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reported that the Populist Party is the major rightwing extremist organization in the nation attempting to exploit the farm crisis by recruiting distressed farmers.
According to an ADL report, the Populist Party is closely linked to the anti-Jewish Liberty Lobby propaganda organization based in Washington and headed by Willis Carto, who is a member of the Party’s executive committee. The ADL described Liberty Lobby as “the most professional and successful anti-Jewish propaganda organization in the United States.”
The ADL report, issued at a session of the agency’s recent national executive committee meeting at Boston’s Westin Hotel, said Populist Party activists have been involved with the neo-Nazi movement, the Ku Klux Klan, armed paramilitary organizations, and other hate groups.
Seymour Reich, chairman of the ADL’s national Civil Rights Committee, told the participants at the meeting that the Party’s campaign to make inroads among American farmers is based on “simplistic and extremist solutions” to the farm crisis.
CLOAKED IN SEEMING RESPECTABILITY
The report, prepared by ADL’s Civil Rights Division, says that the Party, portraying itself as a reincarnation of the 19th century Populist movement, seeks to cloak itself in the seeming respectability of national electoral politics. It put forward a Presidential candidate in the 1984 election — former track star Bob Richards, an Olympic Gold Medalist, who received 66,000 votes in 14 states. Richards has since left the Party.
Its efforts to attract American farmers went into high gear in March of this year after a strategy session held in Chicago. Specific outreach to farmers was a central aspect of the Party’s 1984 national convention.
Liberty Lobby’s publication, “The Spotlight,” which promotes the Populist Party, also targets farmers with articles on the farm situation and their plight in almost every issue. Conspiracy theories are often advanced in these articles to explain the difficulties faced by farmers.
Although the Party achieved official ballot status last year in Midwestern farm states, the ADL report said “there is little evidence that the Party’s outreach to farmers has met with any significant success.” It added: “To the credit of leaders of farm organizations, to date no Populist Party representative has been permitted to address farmers from the platform of any major farm meeting or rally.”
Nevertheless, the report points out, the Populist Party message is spread every week in the pages of The Spotlight, which has a circulation of more than 150,000.
STRATEGY OF THE POPULIST PARTY
In describing the background and personalities of the Populist Party, the ADL report said the group is a “vehicle launched to promote the agenda of Liberty Lobby.” It represents the latest effort by Carto to generate an aura of legitimacy for his 30-year-old program of bigotry. Carto has called the defeat of Adolf Hitler “the defeat of America ” and blamed it on “international Jews. “The strategy, according to ADL, is, in effect, to use the Populist Party as a “Trojan Horse” to break through the boundaries separating mainstream American politics from extremism.
The Populist Party, previously housed in Liberty Lobby’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., is now located in San Diego. In addition to close involvement with Liberty Lobby, some important activists in the Populist Party have links to other extremist organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan, National States Rights Party, Farmers Liberation Army, and the Posse Comitatus.