Willis Carto, influential figure of the far right, dies at 89
By Staff Reports October 31
His death was announced by the American Free Press, a publication he founded. No further details were available. After spending much of his adult life in California, Mr. Carto apparently lived near Jacksonville, Fla., in recent years, according to public records.
Mr. Carto founded the Liberty Lobby in the 1950s, and the organization maintained a presence on Capitol Hill for decades. He had a publishing company, Noontide Press, that distributed extremist literature and launched several publications, including the Washington Observer newsletter and a weekly newspaper, the Spotlight, which had a national circulation of 300,000 in the early 1980s.
In letters and other statements, Mr. Carto voiced admiration for Nazi Germany and recommended that black Americans be deported to Africa. In 1981, the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that monitors anti-Jewish slurs and threats, called Mr. Carto “a professional anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer and the mastermind” of a “propaganda empire.”
The reclusive Mr. Carto “does not speak in public,” a 1971 Washington Post investigation found. “He refuses to be interviewed. He shies away from cameras. He keeps an unlisted telephone number. He shields his residence address in suburban Los Angeles from public scrutiny.”
Yet he controlled or maintained connections with a variety of far-right groups that opposed taxes, gun control, foreign aid and school busing to achieve racial integration. One of his groups supported the minority white rule of defiant segregationist Ian Smith in the African country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
The Liberty Lobby’s political committee was led by former Texas congressman Bruce Alger, a right-wing zealot who once incited a riot in Dallas against then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1978, Mr. Carto founded the Institute for Historical Review, which promulgated anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and denounced the Holocaust as a hoax. Mr. Carto reportedly kept busts of Adolf Hitler in his office at the California-based institute.
Through his publications and interconnected organizations, Mr. Carto exerted outsize influence on a variety of political issues and campaigns. He organized Youth for Wallace to support the 1968 presidential bid of Alabama segregationist Gov. George C. Wallace. The group was later renamed the National Youth Alliance, which, under its next leader, William L. Pierce, became the National Alliance, one of the country’s most prominent white separatist groups.
In the 1980s, Mr. Carto helped found the Populist Party, whose 1988 presidential candidate was David Duke, a onetime leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Mr. Carto was treasurer of the Liberty Lobby, which took in about $1 million a year by 1970, and also controlled the purse strings of other allied organizations. Over the years, employees accused him of financial improprieties and having an imperious style of leadership.
“Several former Liberty Lobby executives say Carto makes all major decisions, delegates little authority and trusts hardly anyone,” The Post noted in 1971. Behind his back, his employees called him “Little Hitler.”
Source: Washington Post
Willis Carto, Far-Right Figure and Holocaust Denier, Dies at 89 (NY Times)
Willis Carto has been a major figure on the American radical right since the 1950s, when he set up his anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby with offices not far from the White House (SPLC)