FDR, Hitler and Catholicism
I should be working but I have not written a Natural Liberation blog for a while, despite a wealth of material. It has now been a week since I went to Seattle to see Mozart's The False Gardener(La finta giardiniera), set designed by my step-son. On the way there and back Jan and I stopped in the DUHC (duck!) house in Eureka and stayed overnight. DUHC is an amazing group, but in addition I spotted a book on Franklin D. Roosevelt. I read less than a page of it, but that bit said that FDR's first inaugural address threatened the nation with martial law, or its equivalent, in order to meet the perceived economic emergency. I thought maybe the author exaggerated, but on the other hand if true it would support the President-for-Life hypothesis (Roosevelt was elected to four terms as President, but died soon into the fourth term).
So I looked up Franklin Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address. Not only was the threat of ruling by decree without the consent of Congress clearly there, but the anti-semitic overtones leapt out. The Depression was blamed, not on the market bubbles of the late 1920's, or the restrictive policy of the Federal Reserve, or the Democratic Congress of 1930's blocking Herbert Hoover's initiatives for relief of the poor, but on "unscrupulous money changers." If you aren't up on the New Testament or anti-jew code words you might not realize he was blaming the Depression on Jewish bankers. One step away from the International Jewish Conspiracy. Two steps away, at most, from Hitler's openly hateful anti-Jewish rhetoric. Money changers are the people that Jesus attacked in a fit of anger at the Temple in Jerusalem. Greedy Protestant bankers, of course, had nothing to do with the bursting of the stock market bubble or inadequate reserves in the banking system.
What does that have to do with Hitler and Catholicism, other than the anti-semitic theme? Roosevelt was President of the United States of America during an almost identical period of time as Adolph Hitler. He presided over a system of white supremacy that Hitler envied and copied. His economic and military policies were almost identical to Hitler's. So aside from American nationalism and Democratic Party partisanship, why was Hitler bad and Roosevelt good?
A gentleman who took the time to write a long feedback to my Goodbye, Pope blog entry stated, among other arguments, that Germany was a Protestant nation, as if that disproved my claim that Fascism was intimately tied to the Catholic Church. He failed to make the stronger argument that Mussolini was not, himself, Catholic, though most Italian fascists were. But Hitler was Catholic, as I demonstrate in Hitler's Catholicism. One third of Germans were Catholic during this period, but the Nazi Party got its start in Bavaria, which was two-thirds Catholic.
Which brings us to some real differences between Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt (FDR). Adolf Hitler was from a lower-middle-class family and endured a period of extreme poverty before becoming the leader of the German National Socialist, or Nazi, party. FDR was a child of privilege, descended from patriarchs given vast land grants in New Amsterdam (later New York State) in the 1600's. He attended Groton, then Harvard, then Columbia Law School. And he was not Catholic; like much of the ruling class of the United States at the time, he was Episcopalian. [More on FDR at Wikipedia]
Authoritarian trends have always struggled with anti-authoritarian, individualistic, and democratic trends in the United States. Like Hitler, FDR vastly expanded the role of the national government, particularly over the economy. Unlike Hitler, he did not actually suppress political parties in the United States. Instead he used taxpayer money to buy votes, a most effective system.
Fascism was described as anti-American in most propaganda because it was anti-democratic. But actions speak louder than words. Roosevelt did nothing as long as Hitler and Franco were just smashing their internal (mostly atheist) opponents. He did not even join in the war effort when Hitler invaded Poland. No, he only went to war when the U.S. economic interests were endangered in the far east.
Americans could not talk about the centrality of Catholicism to Fascism because of the importance of the Catholic vote to the Democratic Party coalition. At that time few Catholics were in the Republican Party. The Catholic Church hierarchy in Rome was more than happy to see non-Catholics exterminated in Spain and Jews were exterminated in Germany and territories occupied by the Nazis. The Church particularly hated Communist atheism and hoped that Hitler would make Russia a Catholic nation again. when Britain's Winston Churchill and America's Roosevelt teamed up with Russia's Stalin to defeat the fascists, the Church had to hedge its bets. The Allied invasion of Italy and defeat of Mussolini sent the Church scurrying to ingratiate itself with the side that looked like it could win. However, the Catholic Church was powerful enough to protect General Franco in Spain after the war.
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