LGBT and handicapped rights were inconceivable.
I want to discuss one section of the book at some depth later, after Holy Week. But I noted something else that, in this post-factual era, I simply have to share.
For background, Roche was an adviser to both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and he was co-founder of Americans for Democratic Action, which was a liberal anti-communist and anti-witch hunt organization. But he was mostly an academic; he was emeritus professor at Tufts when he died in 1994. The Quest was commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith for its 50th anniversary. (The ADL was a civil rights organization, like the NAACP, before it was an apologist for Israel.)
Kellyanne Conway, presidential advisor and sometime spokesbabbler for Donald Trump, was hailed for giving the world something new when she presented Chuck Todd with “alternative facts” on Meet the Press. But the Yahoos were marinated already with that kind of propaganda sauce when Trump was 17 years old and Steve Bannon only 10. In reverse order of appearance on Roche’s pages:
In the 1950s Americans raising money for the United National Childrens Fund (UNICEF) were bombarded with letters from superpatriots alleging that the organization was a communist front. The letters had what Roche calls “an impressive body of pseudo facts.” Such a “fact” would be that the money went to “Red China,” which wasn’t a member of the UN nor did it cooperate with UNICEF.
So, pseudo facts in the ‘50s.
In the 1940s, hysterics in uniform and the ink-stained reporters who covered them alleged a string of Japanese treacheries and iterated and reiterated the same ones, none of which happened. Roche asks, “How was the public to know that every ‘factual’ account of the Japanese “fifth column’ in Hawaii was a mendacious fabrication?”
So, mendacious fabrications in the ‘40s.
But the phrase I really want to pass on, the one that proves that not even Comrade Trump is something new under the sun, comes from the “radio priest,” Fr. Charles Coughlin of Detroit, whose syrupy tones filled Sunday afternoons across the country in the 1930s. After promising beginnings, the priest put all his chips on anti-Semitism, rediscovering the incredible “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” When it was pointed out to him that not only was the document incredible, it was a forgery of a work of fiction that had been debunked many times.
Noting the critics, and anticipating by more than 70 years Trump with the birth certificate, Coughlin said (here it comes): “I emphasize once more that I am not interested in the authenticity the Protocols. I am interested in their factuality.”