On a Demagogue

The event was billed as a pro-American rally, and ads for it labelled it as “mass demonstration for true Americanism.” The rally appealed to people who were said to really love the United States. Staged only a few days before Washington’s birthday in February, the organizers rented Madison Square Garden for the event.

The rally began with the Star-Spangled Banner, beautifully sung by a popular singer. Other “warm-up” speakers whipped the crowd into a patriotic frenzy. Finally, the well-known speaker was introduced with the phrase, “We love him for the enemies he has made.” And he took the podium to thunderous ovation.

He called the crowd “American patriots,” and he made a sweeping gesture towards the back of the hall, pointing to the news cameras; he then demonized the assembled press covering the event. In fact, his long harangue about the press drew laughter and catcalls and applause from the supplicants assembled.

The speaker then addressed the need to put America first; he stressed that, for too long, the US had been worried about taking care of other nations to the detriment of its own people. He denounced the Democratic administration as being uncaring for the true working people of the nation. He further compared the President and his advisors. He spoke of a “reign of terror” of the liberals who were persecuting the True American patriots. He referenced all his “enemies” who had persecuted him, and he warned his listeners that these same “enemies” were coming for them, too.

The universities were also a target of his barbs. He decried the influence he said that liberals had on the public school system as a whole. He insisted that the family was the only place where true morals and values could be taught. He pointed to the large posters of George Washington that were on the walls of the hall as typical of someone who loved his nation more than he loved himself, and he encouraged the crowd to follow Washington’s example.

Well, you know what happened next. A protester broke out of the crowd and ran towards the speaker, yelling at him for his demagoguery. The man was quickly tackled by the omnipresent security detail and roughly removed from the hall. The crowd cheered lustily, and the speaker applauded the violence of the security force. The media would call the security’s handling of the situation as an “uncanny replication of Nazi thuggery.”

The speaker wrapped up his remarks with jabs at Hollywood leftists and hints of anti-Semitic rhetoric. He asked his listeners to join the movement to save America from its enemies, and he left the stage to a rousing chant of “Free America!”

But that Madison Square Garden rally in 1939 proved to be the highpoint of Fritz Kuhn and his American Nazi Party.

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