George W. Christians, American fascist

Posted by | January 6, 2011

It is the privileged role of the Art Smiths, the William Pelleys, and the George Christians to lay only the cornerstone of fascism. It is in their rudimentary organizations that the petty bourgeoisie receives its first elementary schooling in dictatorship. It is from the Smiths and the Pelleys that it learns to scrap its democratic scruples, to hate the Jew as the Mephistopheles responsible for depressions and to detest the Communist as the companion creation of the Devil.

It is in their lecture rooms that the small shopkeeper and the petty officers avidly absorb the bombastic emotional rantings of the would be American Hitlers who intoxicate their listeners with glorious hallucinations of the past and still more glorious visions of the future under the aegis of fascism. Religious animosity is of course, stressed more than anything else.
–Class Struggle, Vol 4, No 3 March 1934 (

Tennessean George W. Christians, chief officer of the fascist Crusader White Shirts, was an odd combination of comedian and sinister revolutionist. “Does our Commander in Chief have ideas,” he asked, “or is he just the world’s greatest humbug?” In another handbill, Christians wrote of the president: “Some neck—for a rope.” He was characterized by one-time Roosevelt braintruster Raymond Moley as a ‘harmless lunatic.’

Chattanooga TN 1942“The Crusader White Shirts,” Christians stated, “known as the American Fascists, is a military auxiliary of the Crusaders for Economic Liberty [CFEL]…. It embraces the Fascist idea of personal leadership, unity, force, drama and nationalism.”

Christians once issued orders to seize control of the government: “The first- objective should be to take control of the local government in the following manner: March in military formation to and surround the government buildings. Then, by sheer numbers and a patriotic appeal, force the officials to accept and act under the direction of an economic adviser appointed by the President of the CFEL.”

One night when FDR was scheduled to arrive in Chattanooga, TN, Christians threatened to cut off the city’s electric power and warned grimly, “Lots of things can happen in the dark!” Followers took this as a veiled reference to consider lynching Roosevelt.

American Liberty League logoThis protege of the American Liberty League was from then on kept under surveillance by the Secret Service. On March 27, 1942, Christians and Rudolph Fahl, onetime physical-education instructor at a Denver high school, were arrested for disseminating material that could demoralize the army. Christians was accused of violating the Smith Act by “communicating to soldiers statements designed to impair their morale.”

In early April, five more seditionists were arrested. Meantime Christians, held in Chattanooga under $10,000 bond, said, “I consider myself a political prisoner rather than a criminal and should get better treatment.” The President took pride in the operation during his “Fireside Chat” late in April: “this great war effort . . . must not be impeded by a few bogus patriots who use the sacred freedom of the press to echo the sentiments of the propagandists in Tokyo and Berlin.” All of those from the March-April group were convicted by the end of the summer of 1942, except Fahl.

Time magazine, Monday, Apr. 13, 1942 “Milquetoast Gets Muscles”
Time magazine, sidebar, Monday, May. 11, 1942
Free speech in the good war by Richard W. Steele, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999

George+W.+Christians Crusader+White+Shirts American+fascists Chattanooga+TN appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

4 Responses

  • Levi says:

    As a life-long resident of the Chattanooga area, this is the first I;ve heard of this character. Where else could one find more info on this person?

  • Dave Tabler says:

    Start with these:

    Time magazine, Monday, Apr. 13, 1942 “Milquetoast Gets Muscles”

    Time magazine, sidebar, Monday, May. 11, 1942

    Free speech in the good war by Richard W. Steele, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999

  • Janet says:

    He was my grandfather, and we thought he was a few cards short of a full deck, too.

  • Connie says:

    He was my uncle and yes he was a different kind of fellow, but I had never heard of him in this light. We knew he went to jail. I was told that the government thought he was a spy, but that this was not true. I was also told that he invented asphalt grouting that stopped leaks in the Watts Bar Dam and that he was very smart. “far out” would be a good term.

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