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Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic views still fueling hate groups today

Henry Ford
Wikimedia Commons
Henry Ford purchased his hometown newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, and used it to promote his anti-Semitic views.

Update, February 1, 2019, 10:26 a.m.:

Deadline Detroit reported Thursday that Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly, who refused to send out the issue of The Dearborn Historian because of Bill McGraw's story, has now fired McGraw as editor of the magazine. 

They also report that the Dearborn Historical Commission passed a resolution Thursday night in support of McGraw and his article. However, the resolution is not "binding on the mayor." 

Original post:

He's known for ushering in the five-dollar workday, the auto assembly line, and the Model T.

100 years ago this month, Henry Ford also bought his hometown newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, and used it as a platform to promote his anti-Semitic views.

Journalist Bill McGraw published a storyon this topic in Deadline Detroit and joined Stateside today. He says Ford’s anti-Semitic views drew on hundreds of years of harmful stereotypes.

“[He believed] in general that Jews are conspiring to control the world financial system and then, secondarily, that they’re also scheming, and already taking part in plots to take over various American industries like the alcohol distribution industry, Hollywood films, even baseball and jazz,” McGraw said.

Ford himself didn’t write the anti-Semitic content published in his newspaper — he outsourced that task to the people he hired to work for the paper. But McGraw says Ford’s lieutenants also took all of these articles from The Dearborn Independent and published them in four volumes titled “The International Jew.”

In the years after World War I, they translated and distributed those books across Europe, North America, and South America.

McGraw says many scholars acknowledge Ford’s ideas took hold in Germany, among people who would later become members and leaders of the Nazi Party. 

“[Hitler] was certainly an antisemite before he read anything by Henry Ford," McGraw said. "But Ford in the early '20s was one of the most famous people in the world for his accomplishments with the Ford Motor Company. So he gave some serious validation to Hitler’s ideas, especially about Jews being responsible for all the world’s problems.”

McGraw originally wrote his story for The Dearborn Historian, a quarterly magazine he edits. But he says Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly “decided that the city wasn’t going to send out this issue of the magazine.”

Stateside reached out to Mayor O’Reilly’s office for comment and has not heard back.

Listen to Stateside's full conversation with Bill McGraw above. You'll hear how Henry Ford continues to influence white supremacist ideology in the 21st century. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas. 

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