Henry Ford was an important industrialist, innovator and inventor, and a towering figure in automotive history. Nobody, however, mistook him for nice guy. In addition to many ruthless tendencies, Ford was well documented anti-Semite, even by the ugly standards of his time, when that particular form of bigotry was generally considered reasonable. However, when the city-funded Dearborn Historian included a article documenting Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism, the city’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, killed the issue, ordering the museum that produces the magazine not to mail it out.
Dearborn is where Ford was born, where his estate is, and where he built his flagship motorcar factory. For some reason that apparently means to O’Reilly that the folks who live there should know less about their town’s most famous and accomplished resident that everyone else. Ford’s hatred of Jews is, after all, hardly news: he was open about it when he was alive; there are books about it; and his family has been trying to live down the shame of that part of his legacy for decades.
Oh, never mind all that: the false lesson being pushed on our society in recent years is that inconvenient history disappears if you erase the record of it. This is the message of all the screeching and crunching metal sounds from The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, and all the other attempts to airbrush the bad stuff from industrial, local, national and personal histories. O’Reilly is a true believer that Henry Ford’s not-exactly-good name will be cleansed by making sure as few citizens as possible know what a creep he was when he wasn’t revolutionizing American industry and changing lives of Americans for the better. He is, in other words, a censorious fool.
Now O’Reilly has ordered the museum to fire the magazine’s editor for the crime of accurately reporting history. Veteran Detroit journalist Bill McGraw, the Historian’s part-time editor, said he was informed of his dismissal by Jack Tate, curator of the Dearborn Historical Museum, who said he was acting on the Mayor’s orders.
Morons. Apparently they have never heard of the Streisand Effect in Dearborn—maybe articles about that have also been sent down the memory hole. After City Hall banned the quarterly “The Historian”when it arrived from the printer last week with a 10-page cover story marking the 100th anniversary of Ford buying the Dearborn Independent weekly to attacke Jews, Deadline Detroit published McGraw’s story, “Henry Ford and ‘The International Jews” on the web, and it has spread far beyond the magazine’s small circulation. Michigan Radio, WDET-FM and the Jewish News have reported the story; CNBC interviewed the fired editor this week.
Since this just came up, I must note that Deadline Detroit is a loyal progressive publication: see if you can find the mayor’s party affiliation anywhere in their story. Maybe they felt it wasn’t necessary; after all, everyone knows which political party now endorses suppressing history, taking down monuments, and censoring speech.