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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Three: Ernest Manning and Anti-Semitism

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"Anti-Semitism in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s involved an image of Jews as international conspirators, secretly plotting world domination through an inchoate combination of international banking, communism and Zionism. In the mythology, based on the forged but widely circulated Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Jews thus posed a threat to national sovereignty, property, peace and prosperity.

"Anti-Semitism was not a coincidental adjunct to this right-wing populist movement, but resided at the core of a paranoid vision of bankers and money-lenders swindling honest Canadians out of the wages of their toil. Depression-era Alberta was fertile ground for such a message, particularly when it came through the medium of a popular radio-preacher turned politician, "Bible Bill" Aberhart.

"Alberta thus became home to the only North American jurisdiction with a government that officially endorsed anti-Semitism." (1)
When Ernest Manning took over the premiership after Aberhart’s death in the spring of 1943, he was well aware of Social Credit’s anti-Semitic elements, which had become entrenched in the Social Credit movement.

Throughout the Second World War, party literature increased it's alarms over a Jewish conspiracy, especially since Major Douglas's views were becoming more erratic. As David Elliot states: "Douglas was extremely anti-Judaic in the tradition of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. His conspiracy ideas became more pronouncedly paranoid as time progressed and there developed a great similarity between Douglas's and Hitler's analysis of economics and banking... He further claimed that no politician could "hope to attain office except by permission of Finance, " finance being a common epithet in Anti-Semitic literature, referring to international Jewish bankers, whose power was more imagined than real." (2)

And at a time when they should have been alarmed by news of the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany, the Canadian Social Crediters instead believed that the stories were fabricated to further the aims of the Jewish world plotters. As a result, they were vehemently opposed to the acceptance of Jewish refugees. This prompted accusations of Nazism by both the media and their political opponents, forcing the new Premier, Ernest Manning to take a stand.

With an election looming, on March 2, 1944, he issued a public statement in which he “unequivocally” repudiated anti-Semitism within the Alberta Social Credit movement, though his statement only brought more confusion over his party's position.

It has been brought to my attention that an erroneous impression has been created in certain quarters that the Social Credit movement is anti-Semitic. Nothing could be further from the truth ... Social Credit is not opposed to any religion or race, as such. It is only when the adherents to any religion, or the people of any race take collective action as a group to attack the principles of Christianity and democracy which are fundamental to Social Credit that conflict arises ... In exposing and opposing the conspiracy of individuals and corporations seeking to impose a state of financial and economic dictatorship upon all nations the advocates of Social Credit consider it most important that the facts of the case be placed before the people irrespective of the color, race or creed of the conspirators. (3)
In other words, while denying the party promoted anti-Semitic views, he still believed that Jews were the “enemy” of Christianity and democracy. He then went on to compare Social Credit’s battle against the international financial conspiracy with the fight against Nazism. He argued that, because Nazi Germany attacked Christianity and democracy, this necessarily brought it in conflict with Social Credit, ignoring the fact that they were murdering Jews.

According to Canadian Jewish Congress official, Louis Rosenberg:
“Evidently the leader of the Social Credit Party in Alberta does not like to be called an anti-semite, although he has done nothing to repudiate the repeated anti-semitic remarks which appear regularly in his official paper Today and Tomorrow and the anti-semitic statements made by the Social Credit members in the House of Commons ... the only difference between blatant anti-Semites in the Social Credit movement and “more circumspect and careful men” like Manning and the late Aberhart was that the former invoked the word “Jewish” in their fulminations about the international financial conspiracy, whereas the latter “use the same arguments and the same phraseology but omit the word Jewish, leaving their true meaning to be understood.” (3)

1. Social Discredit: Anti-Semitism, Social Credit and the Jewish Response, By Janine Stingel, Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press ISBN 0-7735-2010-4, Pg. 13

2. Anti-Semitism and the Social Credit Movement: The Intellectual Roots of the Keegstra Affair, By: David Elliot, Canadian Ethnic Studies, 1985


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