Elizabeth Dilling screeched ‘America First!’, oozed hatred, and inspired Sinclair Lewis. In the era that saw the rapid rise of populists, she became famous on the back of hatred for minorities, Jews, and foreigners.
When she smiled her face could look cherubic, with wide eyes and chubby cheeks conveying a calm she rarely felt. In fact, she became famous by twisting her face with such disgust and issuing such cutting remarks she could have been the Gold Medalist in demonization as America’s Animosity Olympics—1930s and 1940s edition—peaked.
She joined the chorus screeching “AMERICA FIRST!”—putting American values of tolerance, decency, and equality last. She hated blacks. She hated Communists. She hated the Roosevelts. But most of all she hated Jews. Indeed, Elizabeth Dilling earned the nickname a Nazi newspaper gave her: “the female Fuhrer.”
In a twisted salute to womanpower, this Chicagoland matron competed with the populist demagogues Father Charles Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith in denouncing what they called Franklin Roosevelt’s “Jew Deal” and Communism as an international Jewish conspiracy.
History never repeats, but it sure does rhyme. You can read the rest of this at The Daily Beast.