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Baldwin Warns Congress on Democracy of Nazi Fascist Danger in England

August 17, 1939
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There is no danger of Communism in England but a potential menace of Nazism or Fascism, Earl Baldwin, former British Prime Minister, declared tonight at a dinner in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in connection with the three-day Congress on Education for Democracy being held at Columbia University.

Addressing an American audience for the first time, Lord Baldwin asserted that “the worst danger from Communist propaganda is over,” but there was a danger of Fascism when the “national improvements” in Germany and Italy were contrasted with what people find “being done or maybe left undone at home.”

“If such a state of things arises, hoist the danger signal,” he said. “You have a mass of men ripe to listen to anyone or anything. And, given the man of genius who can make the masses believe that he alone can make the work they need if he has a free hand if you get to that point you are within sight of revolution by the Fascist.”

The Jews who have a great stake in democracy success, can offer Judaism as “a potent factor for democracy” and to “counteract the most vicious trends and assumptions of totalitarianism, or mobocracy.” Prof. Mordecai M. Kaplan, of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America declared this morning at a general meeting on “The Contribution of Religion to Education for Democracy.”

Prof Kaplan representing the Jewish viewpoint spoke on a program with Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin president of the Union Theological Seminary, who called for a “common spiritual front” of Catholics Jews and Protestants in the maintenance of the spiritual foundation of democracy and the liberty “which democracy safeguards.” Prof Anton C. Pegis of Fordham University was the Catholic speaker.

Dr. Kaplan declared that “the Jews depend most upon the successful outcome of this Congress on Education for Democracy. There is nothing we Jews dread more than the cry raised by totalitarianism. One People One State One Fuehrer. There is nothing we Jews yearn for more than the good tidings of democracy announcing. One Humanity One Divine Kingdom One God.”

He offered a three point program through which Jewish education could serve democracy.

(1) “To counteract xenophobia Jewish education should stress the traditional teaching of the unity of mankind and of the divinity that is in all men.” This would serve to counteract racial doctrines.

(2) To counter national megalomania it is necessary to present the role played by the canonical prophets in its true historic light. Their primary task was to combat the chauvinistic and misleading guidance of the false prophets, who were the demagogues of old. The Jewish tradition “has the most wonderful methodology for national self debunking,” and self criticism is “democracy’s greatest strength.”

(3) To counter the tendency to accept blindly the arbitrary authority of dictators, it is necessary to apply to the present situation the wisdom inherent in traditional Jewish education which strove to universalize the study of the law, the civil as well as the ritual from the standpoint of its premises and its reasoning. This would mean making a study of the American Constitution a part of the Jewish educational system.

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