William Pelley and the Silver Legion of America
January 12, 2021 9:18 AM   Subscribe

Reminds me a bit (minus the Nazi part) of Manly P. Hall, a source of fascination and stolen stories for Ronald Reagan.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:55 AM on January 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Aha! This dude gets namechecked in "It Can't Happen Here". He also planned a coup that fizzled out and ultimately served 8 years for sedition and high treason.

The Silver Shirts’ menacing activities early on became the subject of congressional investigations. “Arms Plot Is Laid to San Diego Nazis” was the headline of the New York Times on August 8, 1934. Two marines, Virgil Hayes and Edward T. Grey, infiltrated the Silver Shirts at the behest of Marine Corps intelligence and revealed the “arms plot” to congressional investigators. Hayes testified before a congressional subcommittee in Los Angeles that the Silver Shirts had offered him money to purchase weapons stolen from military arsenals. When asked by the subcommittee investigator what the purpose of the Silver Shirts was, Hayes responded, “To change the government, William Dudley Pelley, the national organizer told me. . .. He also planned to deport the Jews.” The investigator then asked him if they advocated violence to take control of the government. Hayes answered, “Yes, I was commissioned as an instructor in military tactics with the Silver Shirts. I taught them the use of small arms and street fighting.” The Silver Shirt “coup” failed because, according to Grey, the May Day demonstration was called off. How serious this plot was we will probably never know, yet the testimonies of the two marine infiltrators reveal an organization eager to obtain weapons, training, and the opportunity to seize power.
posted by now i'm piste at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

Last fall the Weisman Art Museum at the Univ of MN did an exhibition by Brooks Turner on the Silver Shirts in MN.

ON OCTOBER 25, 2020, ABOUT 36,000 TWIN CITIES SUBSCRIBERS of the Star Tribune newspaper received the “Legends and Myths of Ancient Minnesota” an exhibition-in-print by Brooks Turner. The 32-page publication combines reproductions of original artworks with archival materials related to the Nazi following in Minnesota in the 1930s.
How, in the absence of clear identifiers, such as swastikas or raised hand salutes, may we recognize fascism when we see it? This is the subject of Brooks Turner’s artistic inquiry into the aesthetics of fascism.
wam.umn.edu - Brooks Turner: Legends and Myths of Ancient Minnesota

A friend of mine works there and gave me a copy, and frankly the point of the work was a little confusing until I actually read the docs and noticed the parallels between them and a lot of the political discourse we've been wading through the past half decade or more. If it weren't for the anachronistic fonts, layout and paper feel it would have been hard to separate this from a modern polemic. OK, the fact that it was printed on paper also sets it apart, but if the material were on some news site it wouldn't have raised eyebrows any more than a lot of reporting on the last alt-right offensiveness.
posted by Cris E at 5:53 PM on January 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

I forgot about this guy. I used to work at the state archives in NC and we had boxes of court cases and stuff from his time in Asheville. We had campaign posters too from when he ran for President.
posted by marxchivist at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2021

In his later years, he developed a religion called "Soulcraft" based on extraterrestrials. Pelley cultist George Hunt Williamson, along with former members of the Silver Legion, would contribute greatly to the flying saucer "contactee" movement of the 50's, giving birth to popular conceptions of UFOs and ET's, which underlie the alien lizard conspiracies of today.
posted by bonefish at 9:16 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

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