Willis Carto

Last updated
Willis Carto
Willis Allison Carto

(1926-07-17)July 17, 1926
DiedOctober 26, 2015(2015-10-26) (aged 89)
Virginia, U.S.
Known forHolocaust denial, antisemitism, right-wing populism
TitleHead of Liberty Lobby (defunct), founder of the Institute for Historical Review

Willis Allison Carto (July 17, 1926 October 26, 2015) was an American political activist on the American far right. He described himself as Jeffersonian and populist, but was primarily known for his promotion of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Jeffersonian democracy American political persuasion of the 1790s until the 1820s

Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson, was one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party, which Jefferson founded in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton. The Jeffersonians were deeply committed to American republicanism, which meant opposition to what they considered to be artificial aristocracy, opposition to corruption, and insistence on virtue, with a priority for the "yeoman farmer", "planters", and the "plain folk".

Right-wing populism is a political ideology which combines right-wing politics and populist rhetoric and themes. The rhetoric often consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the perceived Establishment, and speaking to the "common people."

Antisemitic canards are unfounded rumors or false allegations that are defamatory towards Judaism as a religion, or defamatory towards Jews as an ethnic or religious group. Since at least the Middle Ages they often form part of broader Jewish conspiracies theories.


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 1988 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. [5] Carto's many other projects included the Institute for Historical Review, which promotes Holocaust denial.

Liberty Lobby organization

Liberty Lobby was a United States political advocacy organization founded in 1958 that went bankrupt in 2001. It was founded by Willis Carto and described itself as "a pressure group for patriotism; the only lobby in Washington, D.C., registered with Congress which is wholly dedicated to the advancement of government policies based on our Constitution and conservative principles." Carto is noted for his promotion of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial.

Racial segregation separation of humans

Racial segregation is the systemic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, riding on a bus, or in the rental or purchase of a home or of hotel rooms. Segregation is defined by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as "the act by which a person separates other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds without an objective and reasonable justification, in conformity with the proposed definition of discrimination. As a result, the voluntary act of separating oneself from other people on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds does not constitute segregation". According to the UN Forum on Minority Issues, "The creation and development of classes and schools providing education in minority languages should not be considered impermissible segregation, if the assignment to such classes and schools is of a voluntary nature".

George Wallace 45th Governor of Alabama

George Corley Wallace Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, a position he occupied for four terms, during which he promoted "low-grade industrial development, low taxes, and trade schools." He sought the United States presidency as a Democrat three times, and once as an American Independent Party candidate, unsuccessfully each time. He is best remembered for his staunch segregationist and populist views. Wallace was known as "the most dangerous racist in America" and notoriously opposed desegregation and supported the policies of "Jim Crow" during the Civil Rights Movement, declaring in his 1963 inaugural address that he stood for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

Early life

Willis Carto was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He served in the Philippines during World War II and earned the Purple Heart. [6] 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.[ citation needed ] He later worked for Procter & Gamble and moved west to San Francisco, California where he worked for the Household Finance Company. [7]

Fort Wayne, Indiana City in Indiana

Fort Wayne is a city in the U.S. state of Indiana and the seat of Allen County, United States. Located in northeastern Indiana, the city is 18 miles (29 km) west of the Ohio border and 50 miles (80 km) south of the Michigan border. With a population of 253,691 in the 2010 census, it is the second-most populous city in Indiana after Indianapolis, and the 75th-most populous city in the United States. It is the principal city of the Fort Wayne metropolitan area, consisting of Allen, Wells, and Whitley counties, a combined population of 419,453 as of 2011. Fort Wayne is the cultural and economic center of northeastern Indiana. The city is within a 300-mile radius of major population centers, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, and Milwaukee. In addition to the three core counties, the combined statistical area (CSA) includes Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, and Steuben counties, with an estimated population of 615,077.

Philippines Republic in Southeast Asia

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Willis Carto was a devotee of the writings of Francis Parker Yockey. [8] Yockey promoted Adolf Hitler's German National Socialism movement, harsh criticism of the influence of Jews, and other Fascist causes and worked with the Nazi aligned German-American Bund and the National German-American Alliance. Yockey was visited by Carto while in prison [8] for possessing falsified passports.[ citation needed ] Yockey's book, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics , was adopted by Carto as his own guiding ideology. [9]

Francis Parker Yockey American writer

Francis Parker Yockey was an American attorney, political philosopher, and polemicist best known for his neo-Spenglerian book Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics, published under the pen name Ulick Varange in 1948. This book, described in its introduction as a "sequel" to Spengler's The Decline of the West, argues for a culture-based, totalitarian path for the preservation of Western culture.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

National Socialism, more commonly known as Nazism, is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party—officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party —in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar aims.

Later, Carto would define his ideology as Jeffersonian and populist rather than National Socialist, particularly in Carto's 1982 book, Profiles in Populism. [10] 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. [10] [11]

Populism political orientation or standpoint

Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". Within political science and other social sciences, various different definitions of populism have been used, although some scholars propose rejecting the term altogether. There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time. Few politicians or political groups describe themselves as "populist" and the term is often applied to others pejoratively.

Thomas Jefferson 3rd president of the United States

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.

Andrew Jackson 7th president of the United States

Andrew Jackson was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected to the presidency, Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of Congress. As president, Jackson sought to advance the rights of the "common man" against a "corrupt aristocracy" and to preserve the Union.

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. [1] Liberty Lobby published The Spotlight newspaper between 1975 and 2001. [1]

Bankruptcy legal status of a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.

A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil court of law. The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small number of laws still in effect today. The term "lawsuit" is used in reference to a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. If the plaintiff is successful, judgment is in the plaintiff's favor, and a variety of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose a temporary or permanent injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.

The Spotlight was a weekly newspaper in the United States, published in Washington, D.C. from September 1975 to July 2001 by the now-defunct antisemitic Liberty Lobby. The Spotlight ran articles and editorials professing a "populist and nationalist" political orientation. Some observers have described the publication as promoting a right-wing, or conservative, politics.

Carto [12] and several Spotlight staff members and writers subsequently founded a new newspaper called the 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. [13] When the campaign failed, he converted what remained of the Youth for George Wallace organization into the National Youth Alliance. As National Chairman for this group, Carto was successful in recruiting William Luther Pierce, who later became known for writing The Turner Diaries . [13] 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.

On September 10, 1971, the conservative magazine National Review published a detailed critique of Carto's activities up to that point. It was titled "Liberty Lobby - Willis Carto and his Fronts."

Historical revisionism and Holocaust denial

The Institute for Historical Review was founded by Willis Carto in 1979. [8] Carto 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. [14] Noontide Press later became closely associated with the IHR, and fell out of Carto's hands at the same time as the IHR did. [1]

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." [15] The court went on to state, "It is simply a fact." [16] [17] [18] 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. [15] 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. [15]

After losing control of Noontide Press and the IHR in a hostile takeover by former associates, Carto started another publication, The Barnes Review , with the focus also on Holocaust denial.

Populist Party (19841996)

In 1984, Carto was involved in starting a new political party called the Populist Party. [1] 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.[ citation needed ] 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. [19] [20] Carto also published 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. [21] 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." [21] His media outlets have supported candidate and congressman Ron Paul.


Carto died on October 26, 2015 at the age of 89, reportedly from cardiac arrest. [22] 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 over his funeral.

Related Research Articles

Ku Klux Klan American white supremacy group

The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist hate group. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism and anti-Catholicism. Historically, the Klan used terrorism—both physical assault and murder—against groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.

The Institute for Historical Review (IHR), founded in 1978, is an organization based in California, United States, best known for publishing articles and books promoting Holocaust denial, a practice which attracted notoriety to the IHR. It is considered by many scholars to be central to the international Holocaust denial movement. IHR promotes antisemitic viewpoints, as well as having links to neo-Nazi organizations. The Institute published the Journal of Historical Review until 2002, but now disseminates its materials through its website and via email. The Institute is affiliated with the Legion for the Survival of Freedom and Noontide Press.

Zionist occupation government, Zionist occupational government, or Zionist-occupied government is an antisemitic conspiracy theory that claims "Jews" secretly control the governments of Western states. Other variants such as "Jewish occupational government" are sometimes used.

Mel Mermelstein is a Hungarian-born Jew, sole-survivor of his family's extermination at Auschwitz concentration camp who defeated the Institute for Historical Review in an American court and in 1981 had the occurrence of gassings in Auschwitz during the Holocaust declared a legally incontestable fact.

The American Free Press is a weekly newspaper published in the United States.

The Barnes Review is a bi-monthly magazine founded in 1994 by Willis Carto's Liberty Lobby and headquartered in Washington, D.C.. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Barnes Review is "is one of the most virulent anti-Semitic organizations around," and its journal and website are "dedicated to historical revisionism and Holocaust denial." The SPLC writes:

Claiming that its mission is to "tell the whole about history," TBR really practices an extremist form of revisionist history that includes defending the Nazi regime, denying the Holocaust, discounting the evils of slavery, and promoting white nationalism.

Following the collapse of Reconstruction, African Americans created a broad-based independent political movement in the South: Black Populism.

The Journal of Historical Review is a non–peer reviewed journal published by the Institute for Historical Review in Torrance, California.

The National Youth Alliance (NYA) was an American right-wing political organization founded on November 15, 1968, at the Army and Navy Club by Willis Carto, head of the right-wing Liberty Lobby. The aim of the group was to recruit students to counter liberal and Marxist groups on college campuses like Students for a Democratic Society. The NYA emerged from an earlier group connected to Willis Carto known as the Youth for Wallace, which had supported segregationist Governor George Wallace's bid for president as American Independent Party candidate in 1968.

David McCalden British holocaust denier

William David McCalden was a figure in the British political far right. As co-founder of the Institute for Historical Review in 1978, he is notable for his advocacy of Holocaust denial.

Austin Joseph App was a German-American professor of medieval English literature who taught at the University of Scranton and La Salle University. App defended Germans and Nazi Germany during World War II. He is known for his work denying the Holocaust, and he has been called the first major American Holocaust denier.

Michael Collins Piper was an American political writer, conspiracy theorist and talk radio host.

Noontide Press is an American publishing entity which describes itself as a publisher of "hard-to-find books and recordings from a dissident, 'politically incorrect' perspective." It publishes numerous antisemitic pseudohistorical titles, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and The International Jew. The Anti-Defamation League describes its founding and early years:

The Institute for Historical Review and its publishing arm, Noontide Press, were founded in 1978 by the leading organizer of modern American anti-Semitism, Willis Carto, and his wife Elisabeth. Based near Los Angeles in Torrance, California, the group pioneered organizing efforts among Holocaust deniers, who had heretofore labored mostly in isolation and obscurity. The group's first "Revisionist Convention" in September 1979 featured speakers from the U.S., France, Germany, England and Sweden, many of whom subsequently contributed articles to the inaugural issue of IHR's Journal of Historical Review the following spring. With the Noontide Press offering a means for the sale and distribution of their writings, professional deniers had found something of a rainmaker in Carto.

Chip Berlet American political analyst

John Foster "Chip" Berlet is an American investigative journalist, research analyst, photojournalist, scholar, and activist specializing in the study of extreme right-wing movements in the United States. He also studies the spread of conspiracy theories. Since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Berlet has often appeared in the media to discuss extremist news stories. He was a senior analyst at Political Research Associates (PRA), a non-profit group that tracks right-wing networks.

William John Cox American lawyer

William John "Billy Jack" Cox is an American public interest lawyer and author.

The Populist Party was a political party in the United States between 1984 and 1996. It was conservative and often white nationalist in its ideology. The party was unrelated to the original American Populist Party or other American parties that have used the same name. Willis Carto helped found the Populist Party, which eventually served as an electoral vehicle for Ku Klux Klan member David Duke.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Willis Carto". Anti-Defamation League. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  2. Kaplan, Jeffrey, ed. (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. AltaMira Press. p. 42. ISBN   978-0742503403.
  3. Levy, Richard, ed. (2005). Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume. ABC-CLIO. p. 107. ISBN   978-1851094394.
  4. Michael, George (2012). Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA. Routledge. p. 15. ISBN   978-0415628440.
  5. "Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support" by Jim Rutenberg & Serge F. Kovaleski, The New York Times , December 25, 2011
  6. Marans, Daniel (2 November 2015). "Famed Holocaust Denier Could Be Buried In Arlington National Cemetery". Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  7. "Willis Carto, Far-Right Figure and Holocaust Denier, Dies at 89" by Douglas Martin, The New York Times , November 1, 2015
  8. 1 2 3 Beirich, Heidi (November 30, 2008). "Willis Carto: The First Major Biography". Intelligence Report (Winter 2008). Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  9. "Willis Carto and the IHR", Nizkor Project
  10. 1 2 Lyons, Matthew N. & Chip Berlet. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort; The Guilford Press; 2000; ISBN   978-1572305625; p. 188
  11. Lawrence, John Shelton & Robert Jewett. The Myth of the American Superhero ; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; June 1, 2002; ISBN   978-0802825735, p. 132
  12. Aaronovitch, David (2010). Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History. Riverhead Books. ISBN   9781101185216 . Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  13. 1 2 Kaplan, Jeffrey (editor). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right; AltaMira Press; June 14, 2000; ISBN   978-0742503403; page 43.
  14. "Willis A. Carto: Fabricating History". Anti-Defamation League. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  15. 1 2 3 "IHR Scores Stunning Victory in Mermelstein Trial - $11 Million Lawsuit Ends in Vindication for Defendants", IHR Newsletter, October 1991, no.82
  16. Transcript, Nizkor Project
  17. "Mermelstein Victory", Heritage, October 23, 1981.
  18. "Footnote to the Holocaust" by Melinda Beck, Newsweek , October 19, 1981, p. 73.
  19. Judge Roy Moore Got $1,000 from OC Holocaust Denial Group's Co-Founder
  20. Foundation to Defend the First Amendment - About Us
  21. 1 2 :U.S. Takes More Steps Toward War With Iran" by Willis Carto; American Free Press; issue #45; November 5, 2007
  22. "Willis Allison Carto, American, Rest in Peace". Barnes Review. Barnes Revoew. Retrieved 31 October 2015.


Further reading