Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I recently spent a couple of week going through some fat biographies of Ford, both the man and the company, and got a bit more familiar with the antisemitism that was among Henry Ford's most salient character flaws. I'm a bit of a Ford fan; if I had to list my favorite American cars, it would be Ford heavy - the '40 V8 coupe, the '49 Custom, the Thunderbird, the Mustang, the GT40 and the Escort and Sierra Cosworths would all be there. But the fact remains that the most important American car company in history was founded and overseen for its first four decades by a nasty, Jew-hating crank.

Henry had a lot of other flaws - his belligerent self-righteousness, poisonous management style and bitter treatment of his son, Edsel, probably clinch his nomination to the pantheon of world-class assholes - but his proudly professed antisemitism, promoted just as Europe was sewing the seeds of the greatest pogrom against the Jews in history, promotes him from mere rich crank to a kind of cultural accessory to slaughter. Attacks both in the courts and from public opinion forced him to mute his attack on the Jews and shut down the Dearborn Independent by the late '20s, but he was never really repentant.

Henry Ford receives the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from the German consul of Detroit (right) and the  consul-general of Cleveland (left) in 1938. That's right - just a year before World War 2 began. Three years later, you might have called this treason.
There was no shortage of antisemites all over America and Britain in the years before the war, but Ford's very public proclamation of his opinions with the publication of The International Jew he publicized the paranoid fantasy of the Protocols into nearly every garage, barbershop and parlour across the country. Ford was a figure as heroic and his friend (and fellow antisemite) Thomas Edison to a country in love with technology and industry in the years after the closing of the frontier, and his espousing of the grand unified theory of Jewish control of banks, government and culture made it that much more reasonable to people who might never have met more than a handful of Jews in their whole life.

Which is why this feature on his grandson and namesake's strenuously conciliatory efforts to ameliorate the damage Henry did on The Truth About Cars is probably the must-read car story of the week. Henry Ford II watched as his grandfather isolated and denigrated his father, Edsel, during the long years when Edsel was supposed to be running Ford, and as soon as he was able to wrest control of the company from the failing old man, he not only modernized it to better serve the U.S. war effort, he re-made it as a modern corporation able to grow and thrive in the booming postwar market.

He also did what would have been thought impossible two decades previous - he made Ford a friend of the Jewish state, but it would still be years before many Jews, remembering the Ford of the Dearborn Independent and The International Jew, would even consider buying a Ford. All I can say is that it's a good thing the old man was long gone before they made the Mustang.

(A footnote: Henry Ford's hometown, Dearborn, has gone from a sleepy country hamlet to a booming suburb of Detroit to a place where support for anti-Israel entities like Hamas thrives. Henry might be long gone, but his ghost still hovers over Dearborn.)

Buy it on
Buy it on
Help support this site!

No comments:

Post a Comment