| A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Willis Allison Carto (July 27, 1926–October 26, 2015) was a neo-fascist, racist, anti-Semitic fringe wingnut who was best known as the head of the now-defunct Liberty Lobby. While he started his career with close access to many segregationist political figures, such as Strom Thurmond and the White Citizens' Councils, by the 1970s his increasingly overt flirtations with neo-Nazism, combined with the political failure of the segregationist movement, relegated him to the far-right.
Carto's involvement in politics began in the 1950s when he met Francis Parker Yockey, whose Nazi apologia tome Imperium was Carto's favorite book, serving as the foundation for his developing ideology. Carto went on to found the Liberty Lobby in 1958, an organization that has been credited as being largely responsible for keeping anti-Semitism alive in the US as a political force during the post-war era, after it had seemingly been discredited because of the Nazis. It was for this reason that the emerging leaders of American post-war conservatism drummed Carto out of the emerging New Right in the 1960s.
Carto campaigned for George Wallace in 1968, calling him the only candidate who had the courage to stand up to "Blacky". After Wallace's bid failed, Carto started befriending various neo-Nazis and white supremacists, including David Duke, Ernst Zündel, and William Luther Pierce. In 1984, he founded the Populist Party (no relation to any of the various other parties of the same name throughout history) that basically served as cover for Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity types. The party, fortunately, went belly-up in 1996.
Late in his life, the main outlets for his views and activities were the American Free Press newspaper and the Holocaust-denial magazine Barnes Review. He was a supporter of Ron Paul and various anti-American Middle Eastern governments, including Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and peddled quack cures and assorted "medical" woo.
“”A secular conspiratorial scheme overtly aimed at ingathering Jews of the world to Israel but in reality a world political engine of massive power which effectively controls all aspects of Western political, intellectual, religious and cultural life. Zionism overlaps substantially into both capitalism and communism. Without Zionist support, neither capitalism nor communism could survive. Zionism is strongly antagonistic to all nationalism except Jewish nationalism"
|—Carto's definition of Zionism|
While Carto hated everyone who wasn't white, his biggest hate-on was reserved for the Jews. Carto co-founded the Institute for Historical Review in 1978 to act as an outlet for anti-Semitic propaganda, serving as one of the first major outlets for Holocaust denial. After losing the IHR in an internal coup in 1993, Carto went on to found the Barnes Review as a successor. He was open about his intentions in promoting Holocaust denial, claiming that "Hitler's defeat was the defeat of Europe and America" and blaming the Jews for all the problems in the world. He also argued that black people should be "repatriated" back to Africa (i.e. kicked out of the country, don't let the door hit your ass), founding organizations working towards that goal in the '50s that served as predecessors to the Liberty Lobby.
However, he had long tried to spin his racism as mere populism, focused on preserving American sovereignty and the Constitution. An example was the Liberty Lobby's Spotlight newspaper, which covered a wide range of financial and political reporting with an anti-establishment slant with only occasional hints of overt racism. For another example, his 1982 book Profiles in Populism (later republished as Populism Vs. Plutocracy) profiled historical U.S. personalities Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, left-wing figures such as Bob LaFollette and Huey Long, conservative law-and-order Democrats like Frank Rizzo, and Nazi sympathizers like Henry Ford and Charles Coughlin. The profiles in the book are hardly accurate and full of Carto's spin, and reached laugh-riot levels when he took pains to note the pure white ancestry of fascist sympathizer Lawrence Dennis — who, later on, would be revealed to have actually been half African-American, having spent his adult life passing for white to the point where even his wife and daughter didn't know the truth about his ancestry.
Carto was fond of political ecumenism, trying to build alliances among the racist far-right, law-and-order machine politicians, Birchers, LaRouchies, and some elements of the far left. Speaking of Lyndon LaRouche, from about 1976 into the early 1980s (although both downplay the extent of it today) Carto and LaRouche were very closely aligned, with their respective followers providing material and ghostwritten articles for each others' publications.
As with many would-be gurus, he invented his own in-group language. The most consistent indicator that you are dealing with someone steeped in the weird wild world of Willis is the use of the term "mattoid".[note 1] To assist the uninitiated, he provided a complete glossary in the appendix to Profiles in Populism. The new definitions he gave many words are... interesting.
- SPLC: Willis Carto profile, IHR profile, Obituary
- Anti-Defamation League: Carto profile, Fabricating History, Obituary
- The New York Times: Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support
- Osha Gray Davidson, Broken Heartland - The Rise of America's Rural Ghettos, The Free Press, 1990, p. 205.
- "The fascist who 'passed' for white" by Gary Younge, The Guardian, 4 April 2007 (recovered 6 December 2015).