Patriotism is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel

Carl Hottelet


Mobs are bad. Lynch mobs are worse. In their self-righteous savagery American hyper-patriot mobs are the worst.

The experience of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States over the period from the British and French declaration of war on Germany in September 1939 until the United States’ entrance into that war in December 1941 is a case in point. It is summarized in the Jehovah’s Witnesses 1941 Yearbook published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in Brooklyn, New York.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses have been assaulted, beaten, kidnapped, driven out of towns, counties, and states, tarred and feathered, forced to drink castor oil, tied together and chased like dumb beasts through the streets, castrated and maimed, taunted and insulted by demonized crowds, jailed by the hundreds without charge, and held incommunicado and denied the privilege of conferring with relatives, friends or lawyers. Many other hundreds have been jailed and held in so-called “protective custody”; some have been shot in the night time; some threatened with hanging and beaten into unconsciousness. Numerous varieties of mob violence have occurred. Many have had their clothes torn from them, their Bibles and other literature seized and publicly burned, their automobiles, trailers, homes and assembly places wrecked and fired resulting in damages totaling very many thousands of dollars. In almost every case where there has been mob violence the public officials have stood idly by, and refused to give protection, and in scores of instances the officers of the law have participated in the mobs, and sometimes actually led the mobs.”

The 1941 Yearbook excerpt is reprinted in Leonard A. Stevens’ SALUTE! The Case of the Bible vs. The Flag (1973) which fleshes out some of the patriotic horrors visited upon the Witnesses. It contains also the customary spurious allusions to “Nazi” transgressions that never took place, as though that might mitigate, even excuse, American crimes that did take place. Otherwise, the book is well written, and useful. It has the merit, among others, of pointing out that, as was to be expected, the patrioteers of the American Legion, when they did not organize and lead them, were conspicuously active among the lynch mobs.

Brainwashed with an idiot theology sold them by a crazy, or cynical, and maybe mercenary, leadership, individual Witnesses, nevertheless, as they proselytized door-to-door on Sunday mornings, were disciplined, neat, and courteous. They harmed no one, and offered no harm. Least of all did their children, who sometimes accompanied them. The Witnesses refused to salute the American flag. They did not burn it, nor did they desecrate it. They did not replace it by a different flag. They would not salute any flag. That was hardly a threat to national security. In the face of establishment harassment and mob violence the Witnesses’ comportment merited respect. That of politicians and other demagogues did not. These made profitable careers for themselves out of saluting the flag ostentatiously whenever that would attract public notice, and helped demonize defenseless people, and incite mob fury against them.

Barely five years earlier, another lynch mob thrashed about in front of the court house in “America’s typical small town,” Flemington, New Jersey. A trial was being staged inside. New York City Police Department officials instructed people who were testifying that it was their “patriotic duty” to perjure themselves to convict the defendant, whom the same police repeatedly had beaten senseless to force a “confession”, though they knew him to be innocent. The defendant was a foreigner, worse yet, a German. The mob, heated to white-hot mindless fury by media that lied with special malice in this case, howled, and chanted in unison: “Burn Bruno the Hun!” “Burn Bruno the Hun!”. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was burned. In the electric chair, in Trenton, in April 1936.

The happenings of 1940, and of 1935, quantitatively speaking, were mere bagatelles, compared with the events of nearly twenty years before. In 1915 those events engulfed the country, and continued, in their more significant and sinister aspects for eight years. At least as barbarous as any in American history, they had also a new dimension, a manifestation that today would be called “cultural genocide.”

The British had begun their “Hate the Hun!” anti-German atrocity-lie propaganda of World War I. Anglomaniac WASPs joined in full blast.

So did the Jews. They had prospered enormously in the Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm II. They were given preferment. Yet, no media, anywhere vented anti-German atrocity-lies as vile as those printed by the New York Times and its equally kosher clones. No studios ground out anti-German hate films as disgusting as those made by the Hollywood Jews. Yet many of the Jews, in New York and in Hollywood, had but recently come from Germany,

Observers were astonished at the intensity and the extent of Jewish hatred against a country and a people that had nurtured them at least as kindly as had any other. There were no pogroms, there were no expulsions. It was in Germany, and only in Germany, that Jews achieved true cultural heights. What non-German Jew is there to compare with Heinrich Heine or with Felix Mendelsohn? Or with Mahler, Meyerbeer, or Offenbach? In fact, what non-German Jew has contributed anything, anything constructive, that is, to any civilization?

Astonishment at the behavior of the Jews derives from ignorance of their history, character, and mind-set. Nomadic and predatory, they know neither allegiance nor gratitude, even toward the host people from whom they profited most. Unable to build a viable state of their own, obsessed by a compulsion to dominate, inspired and instructed by the Talmud to hate, abuse, and exploit all that is not Jewish, they strive to destroy every society they can penetrate. In 1915 they had yet another motivation. As the authentically distinguished (and therefore virtually unknown) German-Jewish economist, Werner Sombart, pointed out: “Wars are the harvests of the Jews.”

Joined, for once, the WASPs, who loathed Jews, and Jews who hated WASPs, through their combined total control of media, money, and politicians . . wrapped themselves in American flags, launched history’s most ferocious campaign to extirpate the spirit and the culture of a people who had dwelt in their country for over two and a half centuries, who had contributed more than other ethnic groups, some would argue, more than all other ethnic groups put together.

For the first time, mobs operated on two levels. On the lower level were the street gangs, composed of the usual hoodlums, hooligans, barroom brawlers, and other such low grade rabble. On the upper level were the academic gangs, composed of “educators”, “intellectuals”, artists, artistes, a great many of the “cultural elite”, the “intelligentsia”, and other such high grade rabble.

The depredations of the street mobs were what they had always been: assaulting people they had never seen; beatings; burning down homes, barns, places of business; destroying property; pillaging; hunting down lone, desperately fleeing individuals and murdering them, that sort of thing.

In one way, the street gangs’ performance was out of the ordinary. They burned books. German books. They raided public libraries, school and college libraries, and book stores. German books were pulled out of the stacks and off the shelves, dumped in the street. Kerosene was poured over them and they were set on fire. What was extraordinary about this was not the mobs’ frenzy, but the virtual certainty that none of their goons ever before had been in a library, or could tell a German book from an English, Russian, or Turkish one.

Who led the semi-literates of the street gangs to libraries and bookshops? Who pointed out the books to be burned? Who other than the “intellectual” hoods who had joined their gutter colleagues for the purpose.

The striving to eradicate everything that was German, even the memory that once it was German, covered the spectrum from incredible pettiness to the criminally demented.

Sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage”. Hamburgers were rechristened “Salisbury steak”. Frankfurters metamorphosed into “wieners” (one wonders why not felixes). German pastry changes its nationality to Danish, and so on, and on.

Even the German shepherd was not overlooked. The Anglomaniac Albert Payson Terhune made him the dastardly villain in his collie book for children. To conceal and falsify the national origin of this splendid animal, “the only dog that thinks,” the zealots invented hitherto unknown breeds for it. The German shepherd became an “Alsatian”, or a “Belgian”.

More serious was the forced renaming of places and institutions. One victim of this vindictiveness was the Deutsches Hospital, the German Hospital, at the time the finest in New York City, and one of the best in the country. The Anglomaniacs insisted that it be renamed “Edith Cavell Hospital”. Edith Cavell was a British Red Cross nurse whom the Germans had permitted to work in German-occupied Belgium. Violating her oath, and international law, she helped POWs escape. The Germans caught her at it, tried her in strict fairness, found her guilty, and executed her by firing squad. That was clumsy of the Germans, who never grasped the nature of Anglo-American propaganda. In the event, the WASPs were unable to consummate their outrageous insult to those who had built the hospital. But the administration and staff, by then already more Irish than German, were compelled to abandon Deutsches Hospital and “compromise” on Lenox Hill Hospital, which is its name today. The hospital’s German origin is forgotten.

The academic mob’s crassest scheme to falsify history was to depose Johann Gutenberg, inventor of printing with movable type, to push him into the memory hole, and put William Caxton in his place.

Johann Gutenberg was born around 1400 in the town of Mainz, where the river of that name flows into the Rhine. Fulfilling the stringent requirements of the medieval German guilds, he was apprentice, journeyman, and master of his craft. In 1439 Gutenberg began to apply the knowledge and skills he had absorbed toward achieving his great concept: To do away with the cumbersome block of wood into which the letters for an entire page of text were cut laboriously by hand, and to use instead a frame into which individual pieces of type would form the text; after a page was printed, the type would be reset for another.

The gestation of the first modern printing press, more than half a millennium ago, was neither short nor easy. It called for manifold genius. To find the right material for the dies into which the separate type faces were cut, Gutenberg made long and arduous trials with woods, hard and soft, and with metals, copper, silver, gold. Yet more difficult was the question of the ink, which had to be of a new and special kind for use with the new type. Gutenberg solved the complex chemical problem and produced a deep black lustrous ink that has never been equaled. Then there was the press itself. To be capable of imparting pressure absolutely evenly and uniformly over a large surface it had to be built to a standard of precision not previously needed, or attained. Gutenberg printed with movable type. It had taken him more than twenty years.

When Johann Gutenberg died in 1468 he bequeathed the world an instrument that altered it forever, and that brought forth the most beautiful book ever printed – the Gutenberg Bible.

William Caxton was born around 1422 in London. He was apprenticed to a London silk merchant in 1438. He became a merchant on his own account, and moved to the Continent. In the Hanseatic town of Bruges he heard the German traders talking about Johann Gutenberg’s wonderful new printing press, and how print shops were springing up all over Germany. Caxton saw the potential for England. He left Bruges for the nearest major German town, Cologne, to learn the arts and techniques of printing with movable type. That was in 1476. Later that year Caxton returned to London and set up a printer’s shop. The first book he printed and dated was in 1477. Caxton brought his equipment and his initial stock of type and ink from Germany to England. He never claimed to have invented anything. William Caxton died in 1491.

Is there anything more base than stealing from a people one of the glories of its heritage? And to ascribe it to others who were incapable of producing it themselves?

In the end, the “intellectual” goon mob couldn’t make this trick stick. There remained too many civilized people, in America and in Britain, who knew them for the frauds and crooks they were, and who could be pushed just so far.

Condoned and abetted by the administration of the rabid Germanophobe, Woodrow Wilson, his brain already putrefying, anti-German depredations became even more deranged.

The street mobs’ frenzy, artificially engendered, was essentially mindless. The Germanophobic, highly organized academic mob was activated by an innate fury, intense and purposeful.

The street gangs assaulted, abused, humiliated, and occasionally murdered, helpless people. They destroyed whatever they ran across that seemed to them to be German.

Their colleagues and accomplices on the “intellectual” front concentrated on the destruction of German culture, on the eradication of every manifestation of German life in the United States.

The teaching of German in schools and colleges was abolished. Instructors and professors of German literature were hounded from their posts. German newspapers and periodicals, published in America for two centuries were suppressed. German social and cultural clubs were prohibited. There were no German political clubs. Choral societies, literary societies, dramatic societies, all were driven from the American cultural and social scene.

Germans were preeminent in the musical life of America. There was Theodor Thomas, for one. Born in Germany in 1835, immigrating, with his parents, in 1845, he formed and conducted orchestras and led them on tours about the country. He is remembered best for his enduring work in Cincinnati and for raising the Chicago Symphony to world class professionalism. Upon Thomas’ death in 1905 his work with the Chicago Orchestra was carried on by another German-born virtuoso, composer, and conductor, Friedrich Stock until war hysteria caused his “temporary retirement.” These men, and others, enriched immeasurably the cultural life of the Republic. They helped essentially to create the only belle époque the country has known. It ended when its German constituent was suppressed.

The ultimate unspeakable vindictiveness was forbidding Germans to pray in their language, even in their own churches. Some observers attribute the WASPs’ manic vengefulness to a gnawing envy, and inferiority complex induced by the knowledge that German culture, and other achievements exceeded theirs. That is aggravated by a fanatic identification with the Motherland, and with its customs, among them the classic English concept of how best to compete: Kill the competitor.

The demented obliteration of everything German deprived Americans, American children most of all, of so much that Germans contributed to make childhood in America joyous. The Christmas tree, “Silent Night, Holy Night”, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Kindergarten, the most enchanting lullaby ever composed, Brahm’s Cradle Song.

The WASPs, the Jews even less, had nothing to offer in place of what they had ruined. That didn’t trouble them. Jews care nothing about children not their own. WASPs were callous to the condition of children.

Three- or four-year-old toddlers were made to work in the Motherlands’ dark Satanic mills. Underfed, sleepy, they would stumble into the dangerous machinery throbbing and clanking all about. Little legs and arms had to be amputated. Infants of the same age were put to work as chimney sweeps, an excruciatingly filthy and dangerous task. Many of these babies, jammed in hot flues, died in screaming agony. Those who didn’t, had their health destroyed. Children whose fathers could not feed them on the beggar’s pay they earned, when they had work, were placed in hideous workhouses which delivered them as slave-apprentices into the hands of those who applied for such. Up until the latter part of the last century children were hanged for stealing trifles, even food. In this country, until well into this century, WASPs worked seven and eight year-olds in their coal mines.

To Germans the thought of mistreating or exploiting children was, and is, abhorrent. To assure the well being of children is the instinct most deeply rooted in Germans. In Germany, and among Germans everywhere, custom, culture, the social order, put concern for children above all else.

Supporting the more or less ad hoc street mobs, and the highly organized academic ferrets and demagogues in the heroic fray against Liederkränze (“wreaths of song”, or singing societies) the Kindergarten (children’s garden) was a familiar figure on the American stage: the busybody, informer, snooper, vigilante, under whichever label, an admirably patriotic type. He would peer about for vestiges of something German that might have been overlooked in the destruction, and reported them to the authorities or to his local association of patriots. He accosted people, whom he overheard speaking what he thought was German, and admonished them summarily, when he didn’t assault them.

An incident comes to mind. It took place on a mild late winter day in 1917. A woman with her little boy was walking on upper Broadway in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The little boy was wearing a navy blue sailor’s suit and cap. The cap was of the flat style, a ribbon ran about its base, ending in two fluttering streamers at the back. On the front, over the forehead, in gilt letters, was a ship’s name. Among the people walking toward them from the opposite direction was a man. As he was about to pass by he stepped over and slapped the child hard across the face. The mother cried out. A few people paused for a moment to look, then went on. The man had vanished. The little boy, bewildered and hurt, put his hand to his face and whimpered. The name of the ship in gilt letters on my sailor’s cap was “Emden”.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, be he part of a mob or acting alone.


(1) The Lindbergh-Hauptmann Case.

Scapegoat. The Lonesome Death of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, by Anthony Scaduto. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, NY, 1976. 499 pp + 12 page index. Illustrated. The ground-breaking revisionist work on this grotesque and shameful episode in the career of “the American system of justice.” One of the rare classics of investigative journalism. It redeems the profession.The Airman and the Carpenter. The Framing of Richard Hauptmann, by Ludovic Kennedy. Viking Penguin, Inc., NY, 1985. 413 pp + Appendices, Chronology, Sources + 10 page index. Illustrated.

This English writer, dramatist, novelist, historian, who has written extensively on crime and the law, adds fresh dimensions to this tale of an American tragedy. Kennedy’s report, from within the Lindbergh-Morrow household as it were, depicting of Charles Lindberg’s horror and loathing of the courthouse “lynch mob” is pertinent to the present article. With Anthony Scaduto’s, Ludovic Kennedy’s book is one of the two best on the endlessly absorbing Lindbergh kidnapping.

Doctoral dissertation on mob behavior at Flemington, New Jersey, in 1935-1936. In the Mudd Library of Princeton University.

(2) Anti-German persecutions in the United States.

In a land that has cultivated cover-up as a cultural attribute one need not look for an itemized record of what was done to Germans, and to everything German, during the decade that began in the autumn of 1914. No book describes the events. What was inflicted on men, women, and children of German extraction was so heinous that, conforming to Kafka’s perverse, but well-founded conclusion that not the criminals, but the victims, are guilty, it produced an enduring anti-German prejudice.

The relatively brief – 6” x 8”, 40 pp – but comprehensive The Development of Germanophobia by Michael F. Connors is helpful background reading. It is available from Liberty Bell Publications.

(3) Childhood’s horrors in the Motherland.

For understandable, if not commendable, reasons there are few English works that deal with this subject in any substantial way. Sedulous in pointing out what they regard as shortcomings in others, the English are notably diffident about acknowledging their own.

Still, as background for the present article the novels of Charles Dickens, authentically based and authoritatively written, serve well indeed, some even more than others.

SOURCE: Liberty Bell, October 1995

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