Thursday, January 24, 2008

Revisting the controversal Father Coughlin

I have run across the controversial Father Coughlin before in my reading of Catholic and American History. He was a quite a influential character back in the 30 and 40's.

He was allied with FDR and then was a big supporter of Louisiana Governor Huey Long till he was shot. That last connection is something I would love to research more in the future. He is known mostly for broadcasting anti Semite messages along with his economic views. I think this Wilki article is quite good on him and shows the fascinating person that he was. The Church and the Vatican as you can tell very much wanted him to shut up

A little fascinating tidbit on how hardball politics were back then. It appears that FDR to shut him up went to some very drastic and lets say dubious means

According to Marcus' book, Coughlin's opposition to the repeal of a neutrality-oriented arm-embargo law triggered more successful efforts to force him off the air. In October 1939, one month after the invasion of Poland, the Code Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) adopted new rules which placed "rigid limitations on the sale of radio time to spokesman of controversial public issues." Manuscripts were required to be submitted in advance. Radio stations were threatened with the loss of their licenses if they failed to comply. This ruling was clearly aimed at Coughlin due to his leadership in opposition to prospective American involvement in the Second World War. As a result, the September 23, 1939issue of Social Justice stated that he had been forced from the air " those who control circumstances beyond my reach" (pp 173-177).

Coughlin reasoned that although the government had assumed the right to regulate any on-air broadcasts, the First Amendment still guaranteed and protected freedom of the written press. He could still print his editorials without censorship in his own newspaper, Social Justice. However, FDR's administration stepped in again, this time revoking his mailing privileges and making it impossible for Coughlin to deliver the papers to his readers. He had the right to publish whatever he wanted, but not the right to use the United States Post Office Department to deliver it. The lack of a conduit to his followers seriously reduced his influence.

There is a new book out that is people are talking about called LIBERAL FASCISM by Jonah Goldberg who is over at National Review. I plan to give it a quick read when I go to Barnes and Noble next time I am in the big city. Jonah makes the arguments that this was a man of the left and not the right as he is portrayed today.

Vox Nova had a excellent post on this today that talks about Coughlin and links to some sections of this book that talks about the good Father
. There is even a link to where you can hear one of his broadcast. Good read

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