Why would an American presidential candidate choose to announce his candidacy at a museum dedicated to the memory of America's most notorious and influential anti-Semite?
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a friend to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel, opened his campaign in front of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. This demands explanation--particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is spreading around the world.
Ford was the American patron saint of this oldest of bigotries. His anti-Semitism was not a matter of degree, nor was it disguised by anti-Zionism. It was out and out Jew-hatred.
He published an anti-Semitic screed called the Dearborn Independent which became the model for the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer. Ford's newspaper reprinted the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other anti-Semitic propaganda.
Ford also wrote a an anti-Semitic treatise called The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, which was circulated widely throughout America, admired by Hitler and distributed and sold in translation in Nazi Germany. Among the things Ford said about Jews in its pages were the following:
"The Jews are propagandists . . . Few of their leaders even claim a spiritual mission. But the mission idea is still with them in a degenerate form; it represents the grossest materialism of the day; it has become a means of sordid acquisition instead of a channel of service." (Ch. 2)
"Jews have actually invaded, in person and in program, hundreds of American churches, with their subversive and impossible social ideals, and at last became so cocksure of their domination of the situation that they were met with the inevitable check." (Ch. 2)
"The Jew glories in religious persecution as the American glories in patriotism." (Ch. 3)
"The Jews conceal their strength because Jewish influence at the Capitol has been strong enough to win on all matters affecting Jewish interests, at all times." (Ch. 4)
"Jewish nature is autocratic. Democracy is all right for the rest of the world, but the Jew wherever he is found forms an aristocracy of one sort or another. Democracy is merely a tool of a word which Jewish agitators use to raise themselves to the ordinary level in places where they are oppressed below it . . ." (Ch. 5)
"As soon as the Jew got control of American Liquor, we had a liquor problem with drastic consequences. As soon as the Jew gained control of the 'movies,' we had a movie problem, the consequences of which are not yet visible. It is the genius of the race to create problems in whatever business they achieve a majority." (Ch. 10)
"In America alone most of the big business, the trusts and the banks, the natural resources and the chief agricultural products, especially tobacco, cotton and sugar, are in the control of Jewish financiers or their agents." (Ch. 12)
It would be hard to imagine any Democratic candidate announcing his run for the Presidency in front of the homes of notorious segregationists such as Lester Maddox or Bull Connor, or in front of the state house where George Wallace shouted "segregation forever." Yet Henry Ford is the anti-Jewish equivalent of these anti-black figures.
What could Mitt Romney, a good and decent man, have been thinking? The probable answer is that he wasn't thinking, nor were his staff people. I can't imagine that Romney checked the location out with any Jewish supporters or staff members. Its not as if the Ford museum represents the best of American innovation, since Ford is now laying off many workers and losing gobs of money. When Mitt Ronmey's father announced his candidacy back in 1967, he did it from the Veteran's Memorial building in Detroit. That would have made sense today, especially in light of the tragedy of Iraq.
I believe Mitt Romney owes the Jewish community, indeed all Americans who hate the sort of bigotry represented by Henry Ford, an explanation and an apology.