"The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown": Newspapers, Op-eds, and American Responses to Antisemitism

"The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown": Newspapers, Op-eds, and American Responses to Antisemitism

Ames Public Library Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Presented by: Eric Schmalz, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In 1940, there were nearly 1900 daily newspapers in the United States read and shared by millions of Americans.* These periodicals give us a glimpse into the intense struggles in the American heartland centering on/surrounding arguments promoting racism, discrimination, antisemitism, and isolationism during the 1930s and 1940s. What role did antisemitism play in the general American cultural landscape? How did ordinary Americans in the Midwest and the rest of the country react to antisemitic rhetoric by political and religious leaders? Did responses vary by region or among different communities living in the country at the time?

This talk addresses the landscape of the United States from the end of World War I to 1941, identifying the historical and social context in which Americans lived. It will also examine the role media played in what Americans knew about the world around them. It concentrates on three influential American leaders, Henry Ford, Father Charles Coughlin, and Charles Lindbergh, who were all involved with the America First Committee and who all spread antisemitic vitriol to millions of supporters. News articles, editorials and letters to the editor reveal how a number of Americans in various communities in the Midwest and around the country reacted to this antisemitic rhetoric. The talk concludes with generalizations from this period and lessons for the post-war era. 

Eric Schmalz is the community manager for the History Unfolded project at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He oversees the review of newspaper submissions to the project website, assists participants with their questions, and helps educators effectively incorporate History Unfolded into various learning environments. Mr. Schmalz specializes in developing and deepening authentic human connections through his work.  Before taking on his current position at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Eric taught high school social studies in Charlottesville, VA. He earned his bachelor’s degree in History at the College of William and Mary (2010) and his master’s degree in Teaching (Secondary Social Studies) at the University of Virginia (2011).

Presented in partnership by: Ames Public Library, Iowa State University Department of History, Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication First Amendment Series, and Ames Historical Society.

This program is made possible by the Campus Outreach Lecture Program of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, supported by the Leonard and Sofie Davis Fund.

Presentation of a program does not constitute the Library's endorsement of the content or views expressed by participants. If your organization is interested in presenting a program, please visit bit.ly/APLprogram.

Monday, November 5, 2018 - 7:00pm