While most of us know where we stand on native fascists and Communists, our dislike is a theoretical one: the average American never experiences contact with the lunatic fringe and the sickening taste of bigotry fails to reach his sensibilities.
John Roy Carlson's latest book, a sequel to "Under Cover" of the war years, takes the reader on an unforgettable tour behind the seenes of an American political underworld where hate is the would-be vote-getter. The picture he paints will endure; the uninitiated will have seen what seaminess can be. It is Frederick Kister, or Gerald L. K. Smith, or William Dudley Pelley harangning a crowd of 52-20's in a shabby meeting house on the edge of a large Eastern city. It is a rally of "We, the Mothers," anti-Negro, anti-Jewish, anti-"furriner" feeling whipped to a fever pitch. Or it is a gathering of Ku Kluxers, mapping strategy for the killing of three Negroes.
Just as Carlson had a warning for the U. S. in his first expose, so he offers a message now for a new national environment. During the war he pointed to the menace of soditionists, working for Germany under the protection of democratic civil liberties. Today he shows that the same men who lent aid and comfort to the Nazis three years ago have embarked on another, more ominous, adventure. "Their most important objective is to capture postwar America's most precions prize: the mind of the veteran."
Naming names and presenting devastating documentary evidence to back up his case, Carlson's story recounts perilous personal sleuthing under the alias of "Robert Thompson, Nationalist Veteran." Despite a lack of technical slickness, the book's of feet is Shock, penetrating with the knowledge that a minimum of 5,000,000 ex-servicemen are unorganized, politically impressionable, socially semi-literate, and that we are due for hard times when demagogues may make hay. You are reminded that the fanatics serve as the fall guys of this country's fascism; that the root of the evil lies in the transmission belt from rabble-rouser to Big Money, "the link between the dirty shirts and the stuffed shirts."