Religious hatred, today and yesterday


The copyright infringement lawsuit by radio talk show hatemonger Michael Savage against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demonstrates an interesting point: those who spread hate can't stand it when others quote their own words back to them to show how hateful they really are.

Aside from what you can find on the CAIR website, the Media Matters web site has also documented some of the things that Michael Savage has said on his radio show. In a broadcast three years ago, for example, Media Matters reports that Savage expressed total sympathy for the idea of having "a nuclear weapon dropped on a major Arab capital"; he called for the forcible conversion of Arabs to Christianity, because "it's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings;" and, referring to them as "non-humans", he called for something akin to genocidal action against them ("Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people.")

The unfortunate reality is that there is nothing new about spewing this kind of hatred on American radio. In the 1930s, Father Charles Coughlin used the airwaves to promote hateful anti-Semitic views. In 1938, for example, as described on the PBS website for the program "American and the Holocaust",

Coughlin published a version of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." A virulently anti-Semitic piece of propaganda that had originated in Russia at the turn of the century, the "Protocols" accused Jews of planning to seize control of the world. Jewish leaders were shocked by Coughlin's actions.

Later that year, the radio priest delivered perhaps his most startling and hateful speech to date. In response to the November 10, 1938, "Kristallnacht" attack on Jews in German-controlled territory, Coughlin began by asking, "Why is there persecution in Germany today?" He went on to explain that "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted."
Much like Savage and the other modern-day hate-spewers of the right, Coughlin had a big following in the United States. It is said, for example, that he received more mail than President Roosevelt. And an opinion poll in 1938 showed that 25% of Americans agreed with most or all of Coughlin's views.