Donald Trump’s attack on a single religious group is nothing new in American history. Today it’s Muslims. but yahoos, peckerwoods, and xenophobes have attacked other religions in the past. Between 1911-1920, there was a virulently anti-Catholic newspaper based in Aurora, MO called The Menace. It stridently opposed Catholicism, which it characterized as a sort of satanic cult that was out to destroy the American way. The editors and contributors styled themselves as constitutionalists. Sound familiar?
The newspaper went out of business in 1920, but the KKK carried on its work during that decade. That’s right, the Klan was as obsessed with Catholics as with Blacks and Jews at that point in time. Irish Catholic New York Governor Al Smith lost the 1928 Presidential election in part because of a tidal wave of “anti-Papist” prejudice. Yokels in some benighted localities believed that the Pope would move into the White House if Smith was elected. Why? I’ll never know. He had much swankier digs at the Vatican, after all.
Back to the Aurora Menace. Here are two typical front-pages:
Note one of the headlines on the second picture: Popery vs. Constitutionalism. All you have to do is substitute Islam and you’re transported to 2015. So much for progress. The French have an aphorism for this: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.