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Friday, December 1, 2023

Chip Berlet: The Tea Party Republicans’ Malek Problem


Fred V. Malek, is a key political strategist for the American Action Network which just spent some $7 million to unseat Congressional Democrats with votes from the Tea Partiers. Malek is in the midst of a renewed controversy stemming from an incident in 1988. Malek resigned his post at the Republican National Committee in September of that year after it was revealed that in 1971 he had compiled a political hit list of Jewish employees at a federal agency that his boss, President Richard M. Nixon, felt were not team players. Nixon thought it was a pro-Democrat “Jewish Cabal.” That’s a sordid story, but forgotten today is that in the same month in 1988, while Malek was still a leader at the Republican National Committee, it was revealed the RNC was actively recruiting aging Nazi collaborators to assist the election of George W. Bush.

Fast Forward. Tea Partiers today are obsessed with the idea that President Obama is both a communist and a fascist. Their zeal to throw out the Democrats was assisted by the billionaire Koch brothers, and conservative groups like Malek’s. Most of the Tea Partier votes in the mid-term election of 2010 went to Republicans, but most of the money for the election ads against Democrats came from right-wing money-baggers like those at Malek’s American Action Network. The Tea Partiers and the Republican strategists are in a political coalition for the next two years whether they like it or not. Now that they are in the big leagues, the Tea Partiers and their representatives need a fast study on what a Fascist or Nazi really is.

During the Cold War, Republicans (and some Hawkish Democrats) thought it was preferable to work with fascists and even former Nazis to fight communism. Sometimes it was rocket science. Aeronautical engineers and scientists who were Nazi collaborators and who used slave labor built the foundation of the U.S. space program. A number of Nazi collaborators and even Nazi spies were utilized by the newly-formed Central Intelligence agency after World War Two. It was as American as apple blintz.

During this same time period, hundreds of Nazi collaborators and outright Nazis were brought to the United States, often using dubious immigration paperwork, to help establish anti-communist networks throughout Europe, and especially in Eastern Europe. Over time, due in part to their conservative, traditionalist, and anti-communist views, many of these folks gravitated toward the Republican Party–a bastion of Cold War anti-communism. To organize émigré European anti-communists into an active voting bloc, the Republicans set up a Republican Heritage Groups Council. Later another group, the Coalition of American Nationalities was established within the Bush campaign.

Malek was deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee and helping with the Bush campaign in 1988 when it was revealed that a significant number of leaders of the Republican Heritage Groups Council and several members of the Coalition of American Nationalities were apologists for Nazi collaboration and in some cases actual former Nazi collaborators. The charges were detailed in a report written by Russ Bellant for Political Research Associates (where I work).

Bellant had spent years tracking down the Nazi collaborators, researching their past, and interviewing scores of people. The revised version of the report is still available from South End Press under the title Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party. During the same period in 1988 Washington Jewish Week and the Philadelphia Inquirer did their own research which backed up and expanded on some of the key charges in the Bellant report. These charges have never been refuted–only ignored.

The first inkling that something disturbing was happening inside the Republican Party ethnic outreach program came in 1971 in what was the first of several articles by muckraker Jack Anderson on pro-fascist and pro-Nazi views held by various ethnic advisors to the Republican Party. Not a random event, apparently. In 1971, Nixon was implementing a plan to use white racism to split the Democratic Party in the South and pick up white voters. Sound familiar? In 2008 of sixteen states where 60 percent or more of white voters picked McCain over Obama, almost two-thirds (ten states) were in the secessionist Confederacy. Is that just an anecdote of history?

Back in 1971, a political strategist close to the Republican Party, Kevin Phillips, outlined a plan for building an “Emerging Republican Majority” in a 1969 book. President Nixon began to implement his interpretation of Phillips’ plan, which became known as the “Southern Strategy.” After meeting with Phillips, Nixon’s aide H. R. Haldeman wrote a note to use “Phillips as an analyst–study his strategy–don’t think in terms of old-time ethnics, go for Poles, Italians, Irish, must learn to understand Silent Majority . . . don’t go for Jews & Blacks.” There did seem to be an alarming and obvious lack of Jews and Blacks in the Republican Heritage Groups Council during the Reagan administration and the Bush Presidential campaign in 1988. Are they not ethnic? If you pick them do they not vote? Maybe the invitations were sent to the wrong address?

The Malek resignation over his Jew-hunting came in the midst of the furor over the Nazified ethnic outreach activities of the Republican Party. After a slew of ethnic outreach leaders resigned, however, candidate Bush told one reporter, “Nobody’s giving in. Nobody’s giving in. These people left at their own volition. We’re not accusing anybody of anything.” Indeed, the matter was quickly swept under the rug after the election, even by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League.

Malek was confronted in 2010 with the fact that he never has fully disclosed or fully explained and repudiated his search for disloyal Jews in the Labor Department. Journalist David Weigel has pointed out that Malek continues to obfuscate:

But here is a perfect opportunity for Malek to set the record straight about his attitude towards Nazis. The Republican Party has never apologized or explained how so many Nazi apologists and Nazi collaborators ended up working on behalf of the Reagan administration and the Bush election campaign. Malek was deputy chair of the RNC when resignations of some of the Nazi apologists from the Republican campaign apparatus were announced. We have no idea if Malek played any role in the recruitment of these odious characters, but he should at least have an opinion on the subject of its appropriateness.

So here is a question for Mr. Malek. Do you think it was appropriate for the Republican Party to recruit Nazi apologists and Nazi collaborators into a Presidential election campaign in 1988? It is a matter of some current concern given the request by the NAACP that leaders in the Tea Party movement (and the Republican Party?) repudiate the racists and white supremacists and similar purveyors of bigotry attempting to use the Tea Party as a vehicle for their prejudiced political agenda. Republican strategists certainly don’t want to leave the impression that they continue to play the whit race card to gain votes, do they?

We know there is a disproportionate presence of racism and other forms of bigotry among the predominantly white supporters of the Tea Party Movement. This has been established through a study by Professor Christopher Parker of the University of Washington. I wrote about Parker’s study in “Tea Party Loyalists Biased Against Blacks, Latinos, Immigrants, & Gays,”

The Parker study, “2010 Multi-state Survey on Race & Politics,” is here:

And we know that white supremacists and other bigots are actively trying to recruit from within the Tea Party Movement through a study by Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind, titled Tea Party Nationalism, conducted for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:

So maybe the issue of race and racism still should be on the table after this latest election race?

Best of all, this all could be a teaching moment for the Tea Partiers confused about the differences between a communist and a fascist. Mr. Malek’s old enough to member that the communists were our allies in World War II; then they were our enemies in the Cold War when we played footsie with fascists. Since the work of Hannah Arendt we know that Hitler and Stalin were both totalitarians. For Tea Partiers to then compare President Obama to these two totalitarian dictators, however, seems over the top. Many Republican leaders seem OK with these sorts of nasty Tea Partier attacks on Obama. What about those Republicans who fought the Nazis in World War Two? Do they have an opinion?

Isn’t it crossing the line to make allies of actual Nazi collaborators in an election campaign? So if the Tea Partiers are really against racism, fascists and Nazis, what about Mr Malek? He was there in the thick of things in 1988. He was compiling lists of Jewish names. The recruitment of Nazi apologists and collaborators into the Republican Party campaign apparatus was happening on his watch as a leader of the Republican National Committee active on the Bush Presidential campaign. It’s time to step up, Mr. Malek.

At the very least, can’t we all just say no to Nazis?

From The Huffington Post

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