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The Dirty Little Secrets of Twilight Forteans
"Next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” ~ Sterry Ks
The following discussion contains thoughts on holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis, regular Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, fascists, anti-Semites, anti-zionists, racists, bullies, abusive men, and more. Also mention is made of William Grimstad, Jim Brandon, H. P. Lovecraft, Susan Saxe, Walt Disney, Charles Lindbergh, Philip Johnson, and others.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff. You should get over that quickly. The world is messy, there are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids. And share certain things with you.” ~ Barack Obama, October 29, 2019.
Past is Prologue
Let us begin at the beginning of this episode.
On the last day of the year 2020, Blake Smith of MonsterTalk and other podcasts, posted that he "wouldn't be that excited about meeting a Nazi holocaust denier...I'm very disappointed at how respected he apparently is in some Fortean circles."
Having done some research, Smith had found that the author of The Rebirth of Pan (1983), one Jim Brandon, who, as well, authored Weird America (1978), was noted by me and others in the Fortean literature. Brandon was also the author of other, non-Fortean, books, including Antizion and The Six Million Reconsidered.
"Brandon" was more than a Fortean author, he was something else.
Smith passed along that "Both [of the latter books] were written by William Grimstad, a professional anti-Semite. Grimstad is also a registered foreign agent of the Saudi Arabian government and the Saudi Embassy paid him $20,000 in June 1987 for the blatantly anti-Semitic Antizion."
Smith continued later with "do you repudiate this Nazi lover or just want to keep hiding his 'secret' racist alter-ego?"
And "It really bothers me, @CryptoLoren, that you've promoted his work for so long while protecting his Nazi alter-ego yet spend so much time talking about secret twilight language and hidden meaning. Red Dawn. The Matrix. Is the only 'Neo' you can't see the one in front of 'Nazi?'"
Finishing out the year, Smith wrote: "I just want to make sure we all know that William Grimstad (Jim Brandon) is a neo Nazi."
The Daily Grail chimed in with this: "Some worthwhile information for Forteans when evaluating the work of ‘Jim Brandon’ (nom de plume of one William Grimstad), of The Rebirth of Pan fame. He was a straight up white supremacist and Holocaust denier, associated with David Duke."
On January 1, 2021, even though I have a long history of anti-racism and anti-fascism in print, in action, and in conversations with associates, I found myself combating claims that I was "promoting" a Holocaust denier "without adding any Nazi disclaimers," as Smith tweeted on the first day of the New Year.
Blake Smith then wrote on January 1, 2021: "All I'm asking is that going forward either don't promote Brandon, or introduce him as a Nazi."
My reply was to the point and said "I’ll have more to say but not on Twitter. 2021 deserves better than to continue with a culture of tweets."
Also in another January 1, 2021 tweet, Smith wrote: "Just do better, Loren. That's all I'm asking."I am not willing to rush into quick replies via tweets. That's not me. Besides, I understand "defensiveness" is not a great approach to discussions like this. My response, via this blog, had to be thoughtful.
A couple of thoughts, first.
To "Hayley Stevens," who had joined Blake Smith's thread, and was celebrating getting "free coffees" in response to what she was saying in supportive response to Blake's tweets, on Twitter and her personal blog, I replied on January 1, 2021, "I am being responsive to both of your points ~ as diverse as they might be. I am surveying my output and seeing what makes sense to insert awareness keyed to focused postings that are referenced most often. If you know my output, you know I have been against fascism since 1947."
I was not being sarcastic. I was born in Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of World War II, with my abusive father still in the U.S. Navy, near the naval base. Everyone in my family had just spent the war fighting fascism in the Pacific and Nazis in Europe. My Native grandmother was killed by a white man. I was bullied by vets because I was a Vietnam War C.O. (There's more, but there will be a Part Two.)As a person whose own family fought Fascism and Nazis on the front lines, I should be, and am, offended at the bold implication that I somehow support either. But rather than sink into the impassioned vulgarity of the vocabulary-deficient, I’m choosing to look at this critically, and while I will not forget, I will forgive.
Ms. Stevens wrote back: "Okay, I understand. I thought you were just providing that you'd always used disclaimers when this was in fact a recently added one."
By the end of the January 1, 2021, Blake Smith sent me a two-word tweet: "Thank you."
Enter "Jim Brandon"
“Never wrestle with a pig,” as George Bernard Shaw said. “You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
Grimstad's Anti-isms Are Everywhere
Many people, post-George Floyd, post-the toppling of the Albert Pike statue, are applauding themselves for bringing forth that Jim Brandon-Bill Grimstad held neo-Nazi beliefs. They should be applauded. But it was already part of that history that some of these same people throw to the side, in their anti-boomer push for renewal.
One such example concerns the line: "If a Jew be called upon to explain any part of the rabbinic books, he ought to give only a false explanation. One who transgresses this commandment will be put to death." This is alleged to be a quote from a book titled Libbre David (alternatively Livore David ). No such book exists in the Talmud or elsewhere.The title is assumed to be a corruption of Dibre David, a work published in 1671. Reference to the quote is found in an early Holocaust denial book, The Six Million Reconsidered by William Grimstad. ~ Talmud
[James Shelby] Downard was assisted in many of his earlier works by his good friend, William N. Grimstad. Grimstad is better known as Jim Brandon, author of the Fortean classics, Weird America: A Guide to Places of Mystery in the United States and The Rebirth of Pan: Hidden Faces of the American Earth Spirit. In the early 1970s he was assisted in his writing and editing by John and Darlene Cox in Lake Havasu; then, later in the early 1980s he resided with John and Karen Bissell in Estacada, Oregon where Karen typed his manuscripts and John assisted with research. ~ James Shelby Downard
The Tentacles of Influence
Glass Houses and Nazi Sympathizers
Charles Lindbergh? Should Blake Smith, Mo Rocca, and CBS News have posted this video with disclaimers?
“A few Jews add strength and character to a country, but too many create chaos,” Lindbergh wrote in a 1939 diary entry. “And we are getting too many.”Lindbergh "became a spokesman for the America First Committee (sound familiar?), which advocated for the US staying out of the European war, and counted among its 800,000 members future Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart and president Gerald Ford. It also included some of the nation’s most prominent anti-Semites, like Lindbergh’s close friend Henry Ford. (When asked what they talked about during Lindbergh’s visits to Ford’s plant, the automaker reportedly replied, “When Charles comes out here, we only discuss the Jews.”) And Lindbergh was one of the organization’s spokesmen."
Lindbergh's Nazi sympathizes tarnished him, and as Esquire ends its piece, "But his affection for Germany survived the war: He fathered seven secret children in the nation during the 1950s and ‘60s by three women that included a pair of sisters.
What of the creative, intellectual, and mostly white male list of the others people talk about? How far should we go in ignoring the ideas and works of Erza Pound, Walt Disney, Edward VIII, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and Philip Johnson because they were alleged, verified, or known Nazi sympathizers?
The Stupidity of Architect Philip Johnson
Between 1932 and 1940, Johnson was an "antisemite, fascist sympathizer, and active propagandist for the Nazi government". He attempted to start a fascist party in the United States. As a correspondent for the newspaper Social Justice, which was edited by the antisemitic cleric Father Charles Coughlin, he made several trips to Germany, sympathetically covering the huge Nazi rally at Nuremberg and the German invasion of Poland in 1939....
Johnson sought to distance himself from his views on Nazis after the outbreak of World War II. In 1993 he told Vanity Fair, "I have no excuse (for) such unbelievable stupidity. ... I don't know how you expiate guilt." ~ Philip Johnson
This is something more than the habitual matter of trying to reconcile a great artist with his vile politics, as with Richard Wagner or W. B. Yeats. Even on those terms, Johnson is a bit more like Ezra Pound—not just a creator in his own right, but someone who fostered the talents of many others, and whose enthusiasm for a terrible cause took him far from his friends and his country. Yet Pound’s star was brightest before his adventures with Fascism, and dimmed thereafter. Johnson managed to abjure his past and, on the march toward an exceptionally successful career, leave it behind. ~ The New Yorker, December 12, 2018.
Philip Johnson's name will perhaps be fading. Architects are asking the Museum of Modern Art "to remove Philip Johnson's name over fascist ties."
Johnson's self-described "unbelievable stupidity" is catching up to him, but are those who appreciated his masterpieces of architecture to be excused for liking his works?
Will Your Truths Set Us Free?
I've met many people in my life, from all sides of the political and cultural spectrum.
Sometimes my time with these individuals was on purpose, and other times meeting them has been by chance. Meeting Jim Brandon, I eventually discovered William Grimstad. Was I supposed to have turned and run away from the revelation? Is that not, indeed, "scrubbing history?"
It's happened before. In the 1970s, I was working with women inmates at a prison, to learn what social services I could assist them in receiving for their children. On my first day there, I was introduced to a prisoner who was instrumental in organizing the women. She was Susan Saxe, a Weather Underground fugitive and one of only ten women ever to make the FBI's most wanted list. Saxe ended up serving seven years in prison for her part in a bank robbery in Massachusetts in which an accomplice shot and killed Boston Police Department officer Walter Schroeder.
Talking to her gave me the sense that leftwing politics in her mind could be merged with a Fortean point-of-view. I listened. I had empathy and sympathy. But I agreed no more with her attack politics or the murder she was involved with than I did with that of a neo-Nazi.
Indeed, Saxe's current blog describes her as a "lifelong radical activist, intersectional in outlook since back in the day when we just expressed it as the idea that 'everything is connected.'"
At its most intense, members would be berated for up to a dozen or more hours non-stop about their flaws. It was intended to make group members believe that they were, deep down, white supremacists by subjecting them to constant criticism to break them down. The sessions were used to ridicule and bully those who didn't agree with the party line and force them into acceptance. ~ Weather Underground
One person's truth is their/her/his own, and not mine, whether they are from the left, right, or the excluded middle.
The heart of the matter is, there is a much more effective way to build social justice movements. They happen in person, in real life. Of course so many brilliant and effective social justice activists know this already. “People don’t understand that organizing isn’t going online and cussing people out or going to a protest and calling something out,” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote in How We Fight White Supremacy.
Calling-in engages in debates with words and actions of healing and restoration, and without the self-indulgence of drama. And we can make productive choices about the terms of the debate: Conflicts about coalition-building, supporting candidates or policies are a routine and desirable feature of a pluralistic democracy.
You may never meet a member of the Klan or actively teach incarcerated people, but everyone can sit down with people they don’t agree with to work toward solutions to common problems.
~ "I'm a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic." Loretta Ross, New York Times, August 17, 2009.