Hayworth Hoo-Ha

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.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons