On the eve of World War II in 1939, a majority Americans believed that involvement in another world war would be disastrous for the United States. As the featured poster highlights, some of those in favor of isolationism cited antisemitic conspiracy theories to justify their opposition to US involvement in war.
Produced by Robert Edward Edmondson—a writer who would be tried for sedition in 1944 for his pro-Nazi writings—this document accused American Jews of using their supposed control of the media and the global economy for sinister purposes. Popularized by other prominent figures, such as Father Charles E. Coughlin and Henry Ford, these conspiracy theories reflected a long history of global antisemitism.1 Like Coughlin and Ford, Edmondson warned that there was an international conspiracy to bring about war that was supposedly being waged by Jews in media, finance, and government. "The American people have no quarrel with Germany or Japan," Edmondson writes. "The only people who want war are—THE JEWS!"
Edmondson also claims that Nazi policies against Jews and other minorities were consistent with American history and values, and that Nazi race laws were not really much different from those in the United States. At a time when racism and anti-immigrant attitudes were reflected in US law,2 Edmondson encouraged Americans to see the Nazi racial state not as an enemy but as something familiar—and admirable.3