Is Congressman J.D. Hayworth a boob or an anti-Semite? This rascally warbler knows there's beaucoup evidence of the former, from J.D.'s days of almost starting fistfights on the House floor and reading lame-o Top 10 lists into the Congressional Record, to his embroilment in the Jack Abramoff scandal or his numskullery in adopting the lunatic language of anti-immigrationists who believe the U.S. is being "invaded" by Mexico.
But J.D., an anti-Semite? A dood so pro-Israel he's all but gotten out the pompoms to cheer Israel's campaign against Hezbollah?
Believe it or not, that's the insinuation of the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, the Arizona Democratic Party, the Arizona Republic, and countless blogosphere crackpots, some of whom have lumped Hayworth in with Malibu meshuga Mel Gibson and Gibson's tequila-fueled tirade against matzo-munchers worldwide. Hayworth's far more sober sin was quoting famed auto titan Henry Ford in Hayworth's tome Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security and the War on Terror, which Hayworth penned with his chief of staff Joe Eule.
Here's the offending passage:
"The ever-so-successful assimilation process that used to be called 'Americanization' was a major movement in the early 1900s, with institutions at all levels of society and government doing their part. The public schools helped Americanize immigrant children. The YMCA offered English classes. The Catholic Church used its leverage to convince immigrants to leave the old ways behind and embrace American culture. The state of Connecticut even established a Department of Americanization. Large corporations taught their employees English and civics.
"Henry Ford, a leader in this movement, said, 'These men of many nations must be taught American ways, the English language, and the right way to live.' Talk like that today and our liberal elites will brand you a cultural imperialist, or worse. But if you ask me, Ford had a better idea."
What got the Jewish News and others squawking is the Ford quote. See, Ford, aside from being an American icon, was also a notorious anti-Semite who published bigoted screeds in his paper the Dearborn Independent, had a mutual-admiration society going on with Adolf Hitler, and in 1938 accepted a medal from the Nazis, "The Order of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle," which he refused to return even after the U.S. and Germany were at war and Ford Motors was busy building bombers for the war effort.
In an unsigned editorial by associate editor Deborah Sussman Susser, the Jewish News states, "We're not saying that Hayworth is anti-Semitic only that he should choose his heroes more carefully." Great line. Right up there with, "We're not saying so-and-so's a child-molester, but . . ." And the classic, "So, Congressman, do you still beat your wife?" Sussman Susser's slyly worded sentence metes out a little guilt by association after the manner of '50s Commie hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy. Cop this logic: Hayworth's "hero" (a word Hayworth doesn't use, by the way) is Henry Ford. Ford was a raving Jew-hater. Therefore, Hayworth must harbor those views himself. Otherwise, why bother quoting Ford on Americanization?
J.D. shot back with a letter to the Jewish News revealing that publisher Flo Eckstein had made a $2,000 contribution to Harry Mitchell, the Dem attempting to unseat Hayworth in Arizona's 5th Congressional District. The letter also argued that the Jewish News has in the past quoted Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves despite his love of liberty, and Abraham Lincoln, who, having signed the Emancipation Proclamation, still believed that former slaves should be relocated to Africa, or Central or South America. Probably not the best examples out there, but the point was that just because you quote someone or admire something about them doesn't mean you sign on for everything in their worldview or life story.
But the Jewish News was having none of it, claiming Hayworth's reelection bid had "no bearing" on its criticism of Hayworth's "endorsement of Henry Ford's xenophobic, anti-Semitic philosophy of Americanization." The Jewish News also failed to get the Jefferson-Lincoln analogies, declaring Hayworth's "comparison of Ford to Abraham Lincoln" to be "shameful and offensive," thus demonstrating the Congressman's "woeful ignorance of history."
The Arizona Republic's E.J. "Mr. Back Page for a Reason" Montini and the Arizona Democratic Party piled on. Regarding the Jefferson analogy, Montini tutted, "I don't believe that our third president ever accepted anything like the Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle." And Democratic Party chairman David Waid twisted the situation all out of proportion by referring to J.D.'s "disturbing anti-Semitic comments." These J.D. should apologize for instead of defend, according to Waid.
But was J.D.'s use of that Ford quote by itself anti-Semitic, wonders this gefilte-fish-lovin' seagull? Certainly, Ford was anti-Semitic. Great Jehovah's Witness! Anyone who actually believed a wack-ass forgery like The Protocols of the Order of Zion, like Ford did, and did his best to promulgate it, deserves the frickin' label.
Still, Ford did a lot of other things, too. He was a populist who revolutionized the assembly line and cranked out cars like the Model T that average Joes could afford. He made a point of recruiting African-Americans into the Ford ranks. And he instituted the 40-hour workweek and the minimum wage before the government did, paying workers twice the going rate in what was called Ford's "Five-Dollar Day" plan. Such actions garnered praise from the likes of the American Communist and journalist John Reed, who wrote of Ford, "Here is a powerful industrial baron who is interested in human beings instead of stocks and bonds."
Sure, Reed criticized Ford for other reasons, specifically for his "paternalism." And Ford later viciously fought the unionization of his company. But Ford's anti-Semitism does not undo whatever positive things he did.
People forget that "The Lone Eagle" Charles Lindbergh accepted a Nazi medal similar to Ford's from no less than Hermann Goering! Does that mean we can no longer regard Lindbergh as a hero? One of The Bird's favorite novelists, Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, was so gaga for National Socialism that he gave his Nobel Prize in Literature to Joseph Goebbels. Does that make The Bird a goose-stepping swastika-worshiper?
Maybe we should all stop driving Fords. After all, historians still debate whether Ford Motors benefited from its German division Ford-Werke during the '30s and '40s, or whether the Kraut car-maker was then a separate company. While you're at it, stop driving Volkswagens, Porsches, and Mercedes-Benzes reputedly Hitler's fave. Oh, and don't forget, no clothes from Hugo Boss. The German fashion house designed and manufactured uniforms for the SS, no less.
This flabbergasted flamingo decided to ring up well-known conservative pundit David Horowitz, editor of Frontpagemag.com, co-author of The Fords, an American Epic, and himself a cat of Jewish persuasion. The Los Angeles-based activist found the whole brouhaha over Hayworth quoting Ford just plain silly.
"Look, they play Wagner in Jerusalem," Horowitz told The Bird. "You want to talk about anti-Semites? This is so ridiculous. Your Jewish News, are they going to boycott Daniel Barenboim because he conducts Wagner in Tel Aviv? If we blackball all the anti-Semites in history, there're not going to be many people left."
As for the argument that Ford's particular vision of Americanization did not include the Jews, Horowitz pointed to the writings of birth control crusader and feminist heroine Margaret Sanger, an advocate of "negative eugenics" that is, the weeding out of those considered "unfit" through sterilization. Certainly many, The Bird included, can see the value in Sanger's work, while condemning her dated embrace of eugenics.
This tweeter had an interesting conversation on the subject with editorial writer Deborah Sussman Susser at the Jewish News, but, alas, her boss "Aunt Flo" Eckstein wouldn't allow Sussman Susser to go on the record, so The Bird ended up on the horn with Aunt Flo herself, who sadly lacks Sussman Susser's gift of gab.
"The Americanization is what we zeroed in on," Aunt Flo sniffed haughtily. "If you read our editorial carefully, you can see that. It speaks for itself."
All the same, the quote Aunt Flo and others take J.D. to task for first appeared in a New York Times article back in 1914, and has appeared in numerous books and articles about Henry Ford and immigration since. Recently, it was used by University of Missouri history professor Steven Watts in his acclaimed biography The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century (Knopf). Watts describes Ford's efforts as "an educational project designed to Americanize the tens of thousands of immigrants who had come into the Highland Park factory to help make the Model T." This Americanization project involved compulsory English classes, as well as instruction in the voting process, general hygiene, and the basics of the Constitution.
None of this excuses Ford's screwy anti-Semitism, but it doesn't exactly bolster Aunt Flo's argument, either, or the arguments of other Hayworth detractors on this subject. Aunt Flo and the Dems desperately desire to crush Hayworth in the coming election, a goal of which this left-leaning lark heartily approves. But reverse McCarthyism as a means to an end? Count this canary out on that one.
So The Bird was chatting via cell phone last week with the darkest of dark horses in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, Gilbert's Gary Tupper, as the candidate headed into his local Fry's to do a little grocery shopping, when this Internet-crazed ibis wondered if Tupper's site, www.Tupper06.com, had been hacked. See, while Tupper was surfing the produce section, this feathered PC-user was surfing online at the office, and noticed that instead of Tupper's mug and campaign info, all you got at Tupper's URL was some weird anti-Israel slogans with pics of dead babies slaughtered during the current conflict in Lebanon.
"That's the conservatives for you!" brayed Tupper. "I've not been able to get onto my site all morning. It's interesting how yesterday I came out against Len Munsil and said I wasn't going to support him, and today you can't get on my Web site."
Tupper was referring to his statement of a day before where he said that as a moderate he could not endorse some far-right candidate such as Munsil should Munsil win the September 12 GOP primary.
"It's more than a coincidence, I would suggest to you," said Tupper, who reminded this political pelican that his fellow Republican nominee-hopeful Don Goldwater recently had issues with sites bearing his name redirecting Web surfers to Governor Janet Napolitano's Web page.
Could it be that Len Munsil is the Darth Vader of the Internet, with a Death Star of computer hackers at his disposal, zapping opponents right and left?
To get to the bottom of the bottom, this ever-inquisitive cuckoo called up Munsil's campaign manager Sean Noble to ask him if his IT boys hacked Tupper's site.
"Nope, we did not," avowed Noble. "In fact, we couldn't hack our way out of a paper bag."
Tupper was not amused when The Bird got back up with him later that same day. Tupper'd finally gotten home and been able to see his defaced site, which announced it had been "Owned by NetDevil." NetDevil's a common Trojan Horse program that "allows a hacker to remotely control an infected computer," according to software security giant Symantec.
"I hold [Munsil] responsible," growled Tupper. "If he didn't do it directly, his people did it, and that shows he can't control his own people. He needs to be held accountable."
Hey, The Bird's no Kevin Mitnik you know, the most famous cyber criminal in history but maybe Tupper just needs an anti-virus upgrade. After all, hackers will hack anything they can, from MySpace pages to Web sites for musicians, and they don't need a political excuse to do it. Hackers are like electronic taggers. They do it for the thrill and for the havoc they can wreak.
Tupper's not buying the lone-hacker theory, and apparently neither is the Arizona Republic's Dan Nowicki. In Nowicki's political blog Plugged In, he called it "the latest Internet dirty trick in the Republican gubernatorial race." After all, Tupper had campaign ads scheduled to air on Fox 10 that evening featuring the Web address for the hacked page, ads Tupper had to pull at the last minute. (Tupper's site is back up, in case you're dying to visit it.)
The Feathered One wouldn't be surprised if the culprit behind the rape of Tupper's Web page turned out to be some cockeyed Len Munsil follower. (Aren't they all cockeyed?) On the other hand, what's the likelihood they'll ever catch the 'puter prankster responsible? Yep, Tupper best invest in some software upgrades before some pimply teen with a laptop strikes again.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.