Willis Allison Carto
July 17, 1926
Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||October 26, 2015 (aged 89)|
|Known for||Holocaust denial, antisemitism, right-wing populism|
|Title||Head of Liberty Lobby (defunct), founder of the Institute for Historical Review|
|Part of the Politics and elections and Politics series on|
Willis Allison Carto (July 17, 1926 – October 26, 2015) was an American far-right political activist. He described himself as a Jeffersonian and a populist, but was primarily known for his promotion of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial.
Carto was known as a political racial theorist through the Liberty Lobby and successor organizations which he helped create. Carto ran a group supporting segregationist George Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign which formed the basis for the National Youth Alliance which promoted Francis Parker Yockey's political philosophy. Carto helped found the Populist Party, which served as an electoral vehicle for white supremacist group and Ku Klux Klan members, such as David Duke in the 1988 presidential election and Christian Identity supporter Bo Gritz in 1992. Carto ran the American Free Press newspaper which publishes anti-semitic and racist books and features columns by Joe Sobran, James Traficant, Paul Craig Roberts, and others. The organization promotes 9/11 conspiracy theories. Carto's many other projects included the Institute for Historical Review, which promotes Holocaust denial.
Willis Carto was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He served in the United States Army in the Philippines in World War II and earned the Purple Heart when he was wounded by an enemy sniper. After leaving the military, he lived with his parents in Mansfield, Ohio. He took at least some classes at the University of Cincinnati Law School. He later worked for Procter & Gamble and moved west to San Francisco, California where he worked for the Household Finance Company.
Liberty Lobby and newspapers
In 1955, Carto founded an organization called Liberty Lobby, which remained in operation under his control until 2001, when the organization was forced into bankruptcy as a result of a lawsuit. Liberty Lobby published The Spotlight newspaper between 1975 and 2001.
Carto and several Spotlight staff members and writers subsequently founded a new newspaper entitled American Free Press. The paper includes articles from syndicated columnists who have no direct ties to Carto or his organizations.
In 1966, Carto acquired control of The American Mercury via the Legion for the Survival of Freedom organization. It was published until 1980.
Political activism in the 1960s and 1970s
Carto ran a group called "Youth for George Wallace" to aid the third party presidential campaign of George Wallace in 1968. When the campaign failed, he converted what remained of the Youth for George Wallace organization into the National Youth Alliance. As National Chairman for the group, Carto recruited William Luther Pierce, who later became known for writing The Turner Diaries. Carto eventually lost control of the National Youth Alliance to Pierce who transformed it into the National Alliance, a white nationalist and white separatist political organization.
Historical revisionism and Holocaust denial
Carto founded the Institute for Historical Review in 1979. He was also the founder of a publishing company called Noontide Press, which published books on white racialism, including Yockey's Imperium and David Hoggan's The Myth of the Six Million, one of the first books to deny the Holocaust. Noontide Press later became closely associated with the IHR, and fell out of Carto's hands at the same time as the IHR did.
The IHR and Carto were sued in 1981 by public interest attorney William John Cox on behalf of Auschwitz survivor Mel Mermelstein. In that case, which was to eventually last eleven years, the court took "judicial notice of the fact that Jews were gassed to death at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland during the summer of 1944." The court went on to state, "It is simply a fact." The law firm of Robert Von Esch, Jr., representing the defendants, settled with the plaintiff to remove themselves from the case by agreeing to pay $100,000 and an explicit apology for having filed an August 1986 libel suit by the IHR against Mermelstein. The Von Esches also formally acknowledged that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz and that millions of Jews had perished in German wartime camps. On September 19, 1991, the plaintiffs withdrew complaints of libel, conspiracy to inflict emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress, following Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Lachs' dismissal of the malicious prosecution portion of the case.
Populist Party (1984–1996)
In 1984, Carto was involved in starting a new political party called the Populist Party. It quickly fell out of his hands in a hostile takeover by disgruntled former associates. Critics asserted that this Populist Party (not to be confused with the 19th-century People's Party, commonly known as "Populists") was little more than an electoral vehicle for current and former Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity members. Olympic athlete Bob Richards (1984), David Duke (a founder of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a future Louisiana state representative, 1988) and former Green Beret Bo Gritz (1992) were the Populist Party's only three presidential candidates. It folded before it could nominate a candidate for the 1996 elections.
In the media
Carto's Liberty Lobby acquired the Sun Radio Network in December 1989, and attempted to use talk radio as a vehicle for espousing his views. It was eventually a financial failure. Liberty Lobby and American Free Press also sponsored the Radio Free America talk show. Carto also formed the Foundation to Defend the First Amendment, one of several nonprofits Carto used to spread money to like-minded individuals and groups. Carto also published The Barnes Review from 1994.
In 2004, Carto joined in signing the New Orleans Protocol on behalf of American Free Press. The New Orleans Protocol seeks to "mainstream our cause" by reducing internecine warfare. It was written by David Duke.
Carto has also been featured as a guest on The Political Cesspool, which, according to its statement of principles, represents "a philosophy that is pro-White." He has spoken at meetings conducted by "Pastor" Thomas Robb, a prominent Ku Klux Klan leader and Christian Identity advocate and in 2015 participated in the ground breaking ceremony for the Christian Revival Research and Development Center being built on Robb's compound in Arkansas, along with Edward Fields and Canadian white supremacist Paul Fromm.
In 2007, Carto condemned the "genocidal maniacs like Vice President Cheney and commentator Bill O'Reilly" in their support of the Bush administration's attack on Iraq. Carto defended Iraq as a "highly civilized, independent, stable country with 6,000 years of proud history" where over "800,000 innocent men, women and children have been killed, and at least one million wounded, an untold number of homes have been demolished, roads blown up, buildings destroyed." Carto warned that "now the crooks are prodding America to attack Iran" and condemned "the war cries of cowardly 'neo-con' Israel-firsters who literally demand war against Iran". He expressed the fear that American bombs might kill enough Iranians so that Israel will "establish control over the entire theatre and those who presently live there will become Jewish serfs—like the Palestinians." His media outlets have supported presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul.
Carto died on October 26, 2015 at the age of 89, reportedly from cardiac arrest. In February 2016, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery (which the family had the right to request because he had earned a Purple Heart.) Far-right and white nationalist Pastor Thomas A. Robb presided at the funeral.
Willis Carto was a devotee of the writings of Francis Parker Yockey, a far-right who heralded Adolf Hitler's Third Reich as the "European Imperium" defending the West against both Bolshevism and the Jewish-controlled United States. Carto adopted Yockey's book Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics as his own guiding ideology, and he obtained a 15-minute interview with Yockey on June 10, 1960, while the latter was held in prison for passport fraud. Yockey committed suicide six days later on June 16. Scholars have noted that Yockey would have probably been forgotten without Carto's marketing of Imperium to the American audience.
Later, Carto would define his ideology as Jeffersonian and populist rather than National Socialist, particularly in Carto's 1982 book, Profiles in Populism. That book presented sympathetic profiles of several United States political figures including Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford, as well as Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin who used radio to issue commentary in support of the policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
- "Willis Carto". Anti-Defamation League. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- Kaplan, Jeffrey, ed. (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. AltaMira Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0742503403.
- Levy, Richard, ed. (2005). Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume. ABC-CLIO. p. 107. ISBN 978-1851094394.
- Michael, George (2012). Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA. Routledge. p. 15. ISBN 978-0415628440.
- "Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support" by Jim Rutenberg & Serge F. Kovaleski,The New York Times, December 25, 2011
- Marans, Daniel (2 November 2015). "Famed Holocaust Denier Could Be Buried In Arlington National Cemetery". Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- Martin, Douglas (November 1, 2015). "Willis Carto, Far-Right Figure and Holocaust Denier, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
- Aaronovitch, David (2010). Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History. Riverhead Books. ISBN 9781101185216. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
- Kaplan, Jeffrey (editor). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right; AltaMira Press; June 14, 2000; ISBN 978-0742503403; page 43.
- Simonds, C.H. (September 10, 1971). "Liberty Lobby - Willis Carto and his Fronts". National Review.
- Beirich, Heidi (November 30, 2008). "Willis Carto: The First Major Biography". Intelligence Report (Winter 2008). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
- "Willis A. Carto: Fabricating History". Anti-Defamation League. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- "Doubters of Holocaust Win a Round in Court : Litigation: Portions of an Auschwitz survivor’s suit are dismissed. Revisionist historians claim a victory.", Los Angeles Times, September 25, 1991
- Transcript, Nizkor Project
- "Mermelstein Victory", Heritage, October 23, 1981.
- "Footnote to the Holocaust" by Melinda Beck, Newsweek, October 19, 1981, p. 73.
- "Judge Roy Moore Got $1,000 from OC Holocaust Denial Group's Co-Founder – OC Weekly".
- "Foundation to Defend the First Amendment | About Us".
- :U.S. Takes More Steps Toward War With Iran" by Willis Carto; American Free Press; issue #45; November 5, 2007
- Michael, George (2019). "Useful Idiots or Fellow Travelers? The Relationship between the American Far Right and Russia". Terrorism and Political Violence. 31 (1): 64–83. doi:10.1080/09546553.2018.1555996. ISSN 0954-6553.
- "Willis Carto and the IHR", Nizkor Project
- Coogan, Kevin. (1999). Dreamer of the day : Francis Parker Yockey and the postwar fascist international. Autonomedia. pp. 562 n. 16. ISBN 1-57027-039-2. OCLC 38884251.
- Lyons, Matthew N. & Chip Berlet. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort; The Guilford Press; 2000; ISBN 978-1572305625; p. 188
- Lawrence, John Shelton & Robert Jewett. The Myth of the American Superhero; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; June 1, 2002; ISBN 978-0802825735, p. 132
- Carto, Willis A. (1982) Profiles in Populism. Washington: Flag Press.
- Cox, William John. (2015) The Holocaust Case: Defeat of Denial. Little Elm, TX: eLectio Publishing.
- Coogan, Kevin. (1999) Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.
- Michael, George. (2008) Willis Carto and the American Far Right. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
- Mintz, Frank P. (1985) The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race, Conspiracy, and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Piper, Michael C. (1994) Best Witness: The Mermelstein Affair Washington: Center for Historical Review. (Afterword by Carto.) America First Books (e-book)