Last month the Body Politic printed excerpts from a special report by the Institute for First Amendment Studies examining apparent anti-semitic bias among some religious right organizations. We continue this month with the IFAS report on Rev. Donald Wildmon.
In Wildmon's view, television network executives (a majority of whom are Jewish, according to a Lichter-Rothman survey he often quotes) are in a deliberate conspiracy to promote "anti-Christian" television programming to undermine Christianity.
Wildmon made his first anti-semitic innuendo before a convention of the National Religious Broadcaster (NRB) in 1985. And as early as 1981, Wildmon said, "Most television producers are of the Jewish perspective."
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith wrote to Wildmon after a number of NRB attenders expressed concern about his presentation. "Your remarks imply that Jews create and condone anti- Christian programming," the ADL wrote on June 18, 1985. "You seem to be saying that the fact that there are so many Jews involved with commercial television programming is an explanation for the anti- Christian nature, as you see it, of that programming." Wildmon ignored the ADL's letter.
In 1985, Wildmon wrote a book called The Home Invaders, published by Victor Books, of Wheaten, Illinois. Anti-Semitic aspersion is carefully woven into the book.
In one section, Wildmon states,
"Only a relatively small handful of people determine what Americans can and will see on network television. These people are overtly hostile to the Christian faith."
He doesn't say who "these people" are until the next chapter. Wildmon's modus operandi is to quote someone else and then add his interpretation. In this case, he made use of a remark by columnist Pat Buchanan: "If he [playwright Christopher Durang] were as anti- Semitic as he is anti-Christian, he would neither be collecting awards nor staging any more plays."
Wildmon's interpretation of Buchanan's statement: "Buchanan is no doubt referring to the fact that Hollywood and the theater world is heavily influenced by Jewish people."
In his NFD Journal, Wildmon again raised the specter of a conspiracy among network executive (stating that 59% of them are Jewish) to create prime time "anti-Christian" programming. Wildmon concluded,
"What we are witnessing by the networks and advertisers is a genuine hostility towards Christians and the Christian faith. This anti-Christian programming is intentional and by design. It took me years to believe that, and to be willing to say so publicly, but it is true."
Time and time again, in his AFA Journal (formerly known as the NFD Journal), Wildmon has used the same inflammatory rhetoric.
On October 27, 1987, Wildmon wrote a letter to major television advertisers demanding that they stop advertising on shows that had an "anti-Christian" bias. Using the Lichter-Rothman study, he again blamed Jews for this objectionable programming.
"ADL initially sought to communicate with him [Wildmon] in a low key, non-accusatory, manner. I've enclosed a copy of a letter ADL sent Wildmon when he first began to employ the anti-Semitic innuendo. We were trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least insofar as his singling out the Jewish background of those 'anti-Christian' media folks was concerned. It is evident that he has little desire to alter that approach..."
"Based on what I understand about Wildmon, he tries to evade the 'anti-semitism' issue by noting that the study on which he based his statistics was conducted by Jews (Lichter and Rothman), which is true, but irrelevant to Wildmon's use of those statistics.."
"One final thought -- I am reminded of one of the most poignant comments to emerge from the Nazi Holocaust. You recall the scenes in pre-war Germany of thousands of people hurling 'unwanted' books into huge bonfires. It was said that, ' A nation that burns its books, will soon burn its people.' Prophetic, but I doubt Wildmon would understand or care."
S. Robert Lichter, a co-author of the Lichter-Rothman report, in a letter to Brannon, said that his survey "...drew no conclusions about the nature of [TV] programming or the precise motivations of program directors." He also said, "..we naturally abhor any imputation of anti-Semitic inferences from our survey of television producers and executives."
Stanley Rothman, the other co-author of the Lichter-Rothman report, wrote directly to Rev. Wildmon. Rothman strongly repudiated Wildmon's use of the Lichter-Rothman study to prove that Jewish producers are anti-Christian. Rothman stated: "The inferences you draw from our data are not justified." Rothman told Wildmon that their findings presented 'NO EVIDENCE' to support any of Wildmon's accusations, and that a new study actually proved the contrary. Wildmon ignored Rothman's letter and continued perpetrating this misinformation.
Harry E. Moore, Jr., regional director (Memphis), of The National Conference of Christians and Jews, in a letter to Brannon, referred to Wildmon's alleged anti-Semitism. Moore said, "I agree that whether he [Wildmon] intends it or not, there is a not so subtle strain of anti- Semitism in his madness." He concluded, "I shall keep a wary eye on Mr. Wildmon. There is no telling which way his anti-Semitic bias will lead him."
In the fall of 1988, Robert K. Lifton, president of the American Jewish Congress, in a letter to prospective members, wrote,
"..when Right Wing Christians launched their unsuccessful campaign to block release by Universal Studios of 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' they picked a very special target. THEY WENT AFTER THE JEWS."
"The Reverend Donald Wildmon, Executive Director of the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi, mailed 500,000 letters [according to Wildmon, the final total was about 4 million letters] urging recipients to bring pressure upon 'the non- Christian officials who run Universal.'"
"To be sure, films on such sensitive issues are bound to upset some people, and the right to criticize them is a constitutional right that we at the AJ Congress will defend. But, as we pointed out forcefully to these fundamentalists leaders, the exercise of this constitutional right does not create license to engage in bigotry and anti-semitism."
"The statements Rev. Wildmon has made which have been misconstrued as anti-Semitic, refer instead to the role of secular humanists and their control of mass media. Reverend Wildmon has no quarrel with Judaism. Quite to contrary, he has a quarrel with secular humanists and other non-Christians."
"Orthodox Jewry has similar quarrels with Jewish secular humanists and other non-Christians."
Wildmon later acknowledged that his organization has given generous financial support to Reisman's research on pornography.
The question remains: Why does Wildmon note that 59% of Hollywood's elite come from Jewish backgrounds? He not only mentions it, he repeats it ad nauseam.
In his book The Home Invaders, Wildmon states,
"When the Jewish organization B'nai B'rith honored [Hugh] Hefner as their man of the year, it reflected the shallowness and sickness of those who made the decision, not the religion which gave us the Ten Commandments - and, for most of us, our Lord Jesus Christ."
Like many anti-Semites, Wildmon has no quarrel with the religion of Judaism, just with the Jewish people.
In a January 1989 AFA Journal article, What Hollywood Believes and Wants, Wildmon stated,
"The television elite are highly secular. Ninety-six percent had a religious upbringing, the majority (59 percent) in the Jewish faith." Again, an example of his continuing attacks on secular Jews."
In the same issue, Wildmon published an article titled Anti-Semitism Called A Serious Problem. The headline leads one to believe that the article is sympathetic toward Jews. In actuality, it creates a diversion and plays upon the prejudices of Wildmon's audience. The gist of the article is that anti-Semitism arises out of the black community!
The article highlights that "Jews continue to be more liberal than other Americans..." and specifically points out that "Jews favor homosexual rights more than other Americans." The article stresses that "only 18 percent of the Jews" support a constitutional amendment to allow prayer in public schools.
Wildmon is aware of his conservative audience's homophobia and approval of prayer in public schools. And, typically, Wildmon quotes from the words and findings of others to justify his own conclusions.
Finally, Rev. Wildmon regularly reprints articles by Don Feder, the ultra-conservative syndicated columnist. Although Feder is Jewish, he and Wildmon see eye-to-eye on social issues. Wildmon is quick to point out that Feder "is a Jew." This is another device people employ to mask anti-Semitism, much as racists say, "Some of my best friends are black."
John L. May, Archbishop of St. Louis, and former president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote, "I certainly do not agree with the obvious anti-Semitic bias of Reverend Donald E. Wildmon."
Stuart Lewengrub of the ADL said his group has corresponded with Wildmon about anti-Semitism since 1985. He said the ADL has tried in a constructive way "to lean over backward to give him the benefit of the doubt."
He's encouraging his followers," Lewengrub said, "to believe that Jews are responsible for the kind of programming they dislike."
If Wildmon's point is that Hollywood leaders are secular or atheists, Lewengrub added, he can say so without alluding to their religious background.
Nor does Wildmon need to note, as he does, that the Jewish background of television executive "contrasts with society as a whole, which is 2 1/2 percent Jewish."
"There is no doubt in my mind that Wildmon has engaged in anti- Semitism," Lewengrub said. "He didn't stop. He continued doing it."
In response to these accusations, Wildmon wrote, 'As far as being anti-Semitic, I am not. I have a Jewish brother-in-law. Also, AFA has supported researcher Dr. Judith Reisman, who is Jewish, generously for over two years. And, my Lord was a Jew."
The Spotlight, published weekly by the Washington, DC-based Liberty Lobby, operates a computer bulletin board service (BBS) called LogoPlex. The anti-Semitism in The Spotlight is mild compared to the material appearing on LogoPlex.
LogoPlex is the electronic meeting place of Christian Identity, Aryan Nations, White Supremacists, gun owners, and Christian Patriots. LogoPlex maintains several libraries of article relating to these themes. Anyone desiring a copy of the infamous and fraudulent anti- Semitic booklet The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion can download the entire volume to their computer. A popular article available on LogoPlex, "The Synagogue of Satan," claims to expose the Jewish people as being "false" Jews and members of the Synagogue of Satan.
On LogoPlex, members can "talk" to one-another via computer, advertise goods for sale, or simply exchange information. LogoPlex also lists over 125 other radical right-wing bulletin boards.
LogoPlex's family forum includes the complete text of Wildmon's latest AFA Journal, a list of the AFA's other publications, and the names and addresses of every state AFA director. This enables White Supremacists and other racists to network with the American Family Association.
If people are known by the company they keep, the surfacing of Rev. Wildmon and his American Family Association on LogoPlex says a lot.