Behind the Headlines Coughlin: an Anti-semite to the End
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Behind the Headlines Coughlin: an Anti-semite to the End

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father Charles E. Coughlin, who died Oct. 27 at the age of 88 at his suburban Detroit home in Bloomfield Hills, wrote his own obituary when he was still in his 40s. He had an opportunity to remove himself from the anti-Semites. Instead, of his own free will, he gained an indelible spot in the story of anti-Semitism.

When he began his attacks on the world bankers he embraced the most infamous, ridiculous and shabbiest of world forgeries the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and insisted upon using them as his second Bible in his sermons from his pulpit in Royal Oak and on his weekly radio programs during the 1930s which attracted as many as 40 million listeners.

This writer met with Coughlin-the first Jewish journalist to interview him-and invited him to write an article about the Protocols. That exposure was printed as promised in his magazine “Social Justice.” But the very next week he had his editor write another piece repudiating the repudiation. In other words, all the condemnations of the Protocols, which began with the London Times articles in 1921, didn’t matter to Coughlin. If Jews were to be condemned, the Protocols were to be among the means for that purpose.

Therefore, when in the midst of Nazi onslaughts on Jews Coughlin joined the vilest of anti-Semites in his attacks on the Jewish people, this writer yielded to resentment to call him a sadist. He bristled. Who wouldn’t ? But it didn’t matter much in so far as truth was concerned: he placed his faith in the most disreputable of fraudulent writing, the Protocols, which stemmed from Russian anti-Semitism published in 1902.


Coughlin built up a nationwide following and in his heyday was given financial support by many Jews. One of the many chapters in his career must not be overlooked. His Social Justice magazine was printed by the late Morris Steinberg (Morris Printing Co.). Steinberg invested a lot of money in order to live up to his contract with Coughlin. But Coughlin pressured him into bankruptcy.

Coughlin broke his contract with Steinberg and had his magazine printed by a Chicago publishing house. There was a lawsuit and Sternberg was awarded $12,000 damages. But it was not enough to save his business after he had installed very expensive machinery to meet the contract terms with Coughlin.

In this instance, as in other instances, social aspects and justice were in question. Coughlin not only had his prejudices and refused to recognize untruth in the Protocols and truth in dealing with the tragedy of the Jews in the Nazi era, but he was also tough with the printer who had given him great devotion.

Coughlin’s magazine spewed forth anti-Semitic venom and tirades against the conspiracy of bankers, unions and Communism, but it also once featured on the front page a photograph of President franklin D. Roosevelt with a yellow streak on his back. It was at the time he broke ranks with FDR and threatened to form another political party to defeat him. Subscriptions to Social Justice declined by 40 percent as a result.

Coughlin must have had his good qualities, yet he did not obtain sufficient inner strength to say he was sorry about his anti-Semitism.

He had that chance when the late Jacob (Jack) Gelfand, in whose supermarket. Coughlin shopped, influenced Coughlin to purchase a $500 Israel Bond. This writer would not publish the photo until after Gelfand’s would not publish the photo until after Gelfand’s death. At the outset he wrote to Coughlin suggesting he repudiate his anti-Semitism. Then the photo of the Bond purchase would have been from page stuff. Coughlin didn’t reply.

Meanwhile, every modern history book all the works about anti-Semitism, by Jews and non-Jews, contain the name Charles E. Coughlin as one of the leaders in movements fostering hatred for Jews. That’s what Coughlin chose. That’s how it remains in all historical records.

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