Arlington National Cemetery has received a formal request to bury Willis Carto, a prominent Holocaust denier and white supremacist leader, on its hallowed grounds.
Jennifer Lynch, a spokeswoman for the cemetery, confirmed to The Huffington Post on Monday that a funeral director had requested permission from Arlington to bury the remains of a recently deceased person named Willis Carto.
Carto, who died at age 89 on Oct. 26, received a Purple Heart for wounds sustained while fighting for the Army in the Philippines during World War II, according to The New York Times. As a Purple Heart recipient, Carto would be eligible for burial at Arlington. In addition to military service members who die while on active duty, certain other veterans are also eligible for burial at the cemetery, as long as they were honorably discharged. These include former service members who received Purple Hearts and other top military decorations.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group watchdog, wrote in an online profile of Carto that he “has been known for his anti-Semitism, anti-black racism and the wild alternative health claims regularly made in his various publications.”
Carto founded the Institute for Historical review in 1978, which SPLC calls the “first major American Holocaust-denial outfit.” The Liberty Lobby, Carto’s white supremacist and virulently anti-Semitic group, circulated its newsletter to 400,000 people at its peak in the 1980s, according to The New York Times.
He openly admired Adolf Hitler, keeping multiple bronze busts of him in his office and re-publishing his works, the Times reported.
There is no rule that would prevent Carto from being buried in Arlington National Cemetery on the basis of his career as a professional anti-Semitic and racist polemicist.
“We do not determine burial eligibility based on political views,” Lynch said. “However, we do prohibit interment or memorialization of persons committing Federal or State capital crimes.”
The cemetery said that without permission from the deceased person's family, it could not provide additional information about Carto’s identity or the names of those who made the burial request.
As a result, there is no way of knowing for certain whether the request was made for the renowned bigot Willis Carto, or for someone with the same name, approximately the same date of death and a record of military service that would similarly make them eligible for burial at the cemetery.
Todd Blodgett, a former press aide in the Reagan White House, managed advertising for Liberty Lobby and later spied on Carto and other top white supremacists for the FBI. Blodgett told HuffPost that in the late 1990s, Carto gloated to him that his military service entitled him to burial in Arlington, despite his vocal support for the Nazis.
"He was chuckling over the irony that a man who was a big fan of Adolf Hitler was going to be buried in Arlington Cemetery," Blodgett said. "He was laughing about it: 'I’m probably America’s biggest Hitler fan, but I'll be buried alongside all these World War II vets.'"
Indeed, Carto actually denigrated the U.S. effort in World War II, despite having participated in it. An obituary for Carto in American Free Press, one of the white supremacist journals he founded, quotes him as saying his service was a “fight for the glorious democracy of my country, the survival of Soviet communism, a third and fourth term for Roosevelt, a chance to kill Germans by the thousands as desired by Churchill, Eisenhower and the Zionists, part of Palestine for them as a bonus, vast riches for the bankers and war suppliers, coffin makers and flag makers.”
Lynch said that the request was to inurn Carto’s cremated remains, not to inter his body. She did not offer an estimate of how long it might take to process the claim, but wait times are often significant. The cemetery performs about 30 funerals a day, she said, but receives some 75 daily requests for burials.
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