Dissolving a Stain Painted by Henry Ford


by Walter Brasch

Mark Fields is the new chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Co., second only to the CEO of the 164,000 person multinational corporation.

Normally, this would not be of much concern except to avid readers of the Wall Street Journal. There were several COOs and presidents before Fields. There will be several after him.

But this time it’s different. Mark Fields is a Jew.

Henry Ford, who founded the company in 1903 that bears his family name, was an anti-Semite. When asked in 1920 what the problem with major league baseball was, Ford summed it up in three words-“too much Jew.” At the time, fewer than two dozen Jews had ever played professional baseball during the previous four decades. During the 1920s, Ford’s newspaper, the weekly Dearborn Independent, distributed to every Ford dealership, was loaded with anti-Semitic articles. Several of those articles were compiled into a four-volume set, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.

By the 1930s, Ford was both praised and honored by the Nazis, including Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS whose mission included the extermination of Jews. Adolph Hitler personally awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, that country’s highest award to a foreigner; Hitler personally kept a picture of the industrialist on his desk.

Ford, of course, wasn’t the only anti-Semite or racist in America. America’s colleges established admissions quotas or excluded minorities entirely. Medical schools admitted only a few Jews, and then only if they promised not to enter clinical practice but become psychiatrists. Apparently, they had to cede psychiatry to Jews because of the pioneering work by Freud, Adler, and other Jews. Jewish scientists-many like Einstein-were trained in European universities and then came to the United States during the wave of immigration between the world wars; they were “carefully watched” and often demeaned. Country clubs denied Jews access, villages denied them residence. And throughout the country, the resurgence of the Klan led to lynchings of Blacks and firebombing of synagogues.

Because of a higher proportion of Jews historically in the sciences, creative arts, social work, mass media, and financial empires than among the general population, a large number of Americans have isolated those professions and blamed Jews for whatever the current problem happens to be. A survey by the Anti-Defamation League in 2007 revealed that 15 percent of Americans held anti-Semitic views. More disguise their views by claiming they don’t oppose Jews, just urban liberals-a higher proportion of Jews live in urban areas than in rural areas, and Jews tend to be more liberal, and more active in social justice, than the general population.

During the late 1940s, Henry Ford II, the founder’s grandson, systematically decreased the company’s virulent anti-union attitudes and increased the company’s affirmative action program, promoting Jews, Afro-Americans, Hispanics, and women into management positions. Mervyn Manning, a Jew, became the first minority ever promoted to a Ford vice-presidency. He once recalled that at the time he was hired in the mid-1950s, the only Black in corporate headquarters was the shoeshine boy. Under Henry Ford II, the company approved and encouraged minorities to own Ford dealerships. But it was never enough.

My family, like hundreds of thousands of other Jewish families, never owned a Ford, nor had any plans to own a Ford, no matter the price, deals, or quality of product. There were other car lines produced by union workers whose bosses may have had attitudes against Jews and other minorities-GM and Chrysler’s affirmative action programs also lagged-but they weren’t as blatant in their Anti-Semitic hate as was the paternalistic creator of the Ford brand who had revolutionized the manufacturing process, paid his workers slightly better than industry averages, and established marketing as a central part to any corporation’s business plan.

Mark Fields was born in Brooklyn, and earned an economics degree from Rutgers and an MBA from Harvard. He began his career at Ford in 1989, and was fast-tracked into several executive positions. Shortly after his promotion to executive vice-president, Fields told an organization of Jewish business executives he “never encountered one iota of discrimination as a Jew during my career at Ford.” He will probably become the CEO within the next two years when the current CEO, Alan Mulally, retires.

It’s possible my family, and thousands of other families, may some day buy a Ford. The stain the company’s founder painted onto his product has faded. Perhaps when Mark Fields becomes CEO-and it’s no longer news that a minority has been promoted into executive management-it might be time to reconsider our decisions.

[Walter Brasch’s latest book is the critically acclaimed best-seller Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at amazon.com, www.greeleyandstone.com, and brick-and-mortar bookstores.]


Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.

Latest Book: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution






News & Notes December 7, 2012

Today is the 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor and Delaware Day.  The Diamond State celebrates being the first state to ratify the constitution on this day.  Pennsylvania was second.

The economy added 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%.  Progress continues to be made in spite of the specter of a new recession triggered by austerity measures being pushed by Republicans and some Democrats (like Ed Rendell).

Several events will be taking place next week around the Bush tax cuts.  Find one near you here.

Gov. Gasbag’s latest privatization scheme (supported by Rendell) is for the lottery.  Pennsylvania has one of the most efficiently run state lotteries in the country with overhead of only 2.1%.  Privatizing in this cozy, insider deal would expand it to include keno and subject it to questions about legitimacy.

Yet another black eye for Penn State:  sorority Chi Omega is being shunned for an offensive photo where the coeds dressed as Mexicans and held signs with very offensive slurs against our neighbors to the south.  There is no official punishment towards the sorority though.

Raton, New Mexico is being subjected to earthquakes from fracking operations in southern Colorado.  Raton is just south of the state line in northeastern New Mexico.  There is fracking south of Raton also.

Former Montgomery County Commissioner and DA Bruce castor may be considering a challenge to Gov. Tom Corbett in a GOP primary.  He ran against Gov. Gasbag in the Republican primary for Attorney General.  Back then he decried Corbett’s financial backing from convicted felon Bob Asher.  This is a political feud which goes back a few years.  Castor obviously sees Corbett as vulnerable.  Of course we have our own history with Castor and Asher.

Of the 27,000 provisional ballots cast in Philadelphia over 20,000 were unnecessary.  Problems with the database managed by the Department of State failed to recognize eligible voters who turned 18 before election day.   This is inexcusable.  Perhaps if the Department hadn’t been obsessed with Voter ID they might have done their real job preparing for the election.  This is another black eye for Carol Aichele.

Rick Santorum has a new job writing for Wing Nut Daily.  One wing nut deserves another.

One wonders why Sen. Mitch McConnell is such an ardent critic of the President’s policies.  He’s certainly profited handsomely from them according to a Washington Post analysis.  It seems the Senator has been using access to inside information to become rich.  This is dishonest and unethical of course.

Meanwhile Tea Party Sen. Jim DeMint is leaving the august body to head the conservative Heritage Foundation.  This way he can be totally open about being in the employ of the Koch Brothers, the Coors and the DeVos’.

Bob Costas is in hot water with the gun nuts.  It seems he had the temerity to give his opinion about our mad gun culture following the murder/suicide last week involving a professional football player.  We stand by Mr. Costas and admire his courage.  I really like this article about the controversy.

A NYC street artist has been charged with 56 counts by the NYPD after posting fake NYPD posters warning people that the paramilitary force is using drones.  We’re one step closer to a police state.

Of course this pales in comparison to a whistleblower’s claims the FBI is archiving every email sent.  Someone please explain the Fourth Amendment to the President.

How insane are some Republican voters?  They think ACORN stole the election for Barack Obama.  ACORN hasn’t existed for several years and when they did all they did election-wise was register voters.

A teacher infiltrated and addressed an ALEC task force on education:

Reaction to Rep. Fleck’s Coming Out Positive

The overall reaction to Rep. Mike Fleck’s coming out story seems to be positive.  Now the first official openly gay state lawmaker the Republican from Huntingdon County has been embraced by the LGBT community.  Equality Pennsylvania welcomed his announcement and Brian Sims, newly elected from Philly’s Gayborhood wrote a piece about him for The Huffington Post.  A segment from his article:

First, I hope that this moment can help each of us reflect on our own personal lives and the many trails we travel. As they say, “life is a journey” and we are all entitled to walk our own paths, at our own pace. Coming out is a process that is different for everyone. Over the entirety of our lives we all struggle to better know ourselves — gay, straight or otherwise — and we should be encouraging and supportive of those who have the courage to be true to themselves.

The closet isn’t a nice place to live and we welcome Rep. Fleck’s acceptance of who he is.  I also hope the people of his District admire the courage it took for him to be publicly who he is privately.  This is especially difficult for a Republican and more so for a conservative in a place like Huntingdon County.  This, after all, is also Sen. Eichelberger’s region.

I hope Rep. Fleck attends some gay pride events and sees the scope of the LGBT community and feels welcome as one of us.  As long as he refrains from voting against his own community in Harrisburg we welcome him with open arms.  Along with Mr. Sims Pennsylvania will have two sitting openly gay State Representatives.  The closet door is swinging open even in those hallowed halls.

Toomey Gets It Wrong, Again

Sen. Pat Toomey got it wrong again this week when he told reporters “This is a spending problem, a structural spending problem, and that’s what needs to be fixed.”

He was talking about deficit reduction and the impending “fiscal cliff,” a situation created by Republicans like Sen. Toomey when they refused to approve paying for the trillions of debt they created.  Conservatives spent like drunken sailors on wars of choice, tax cuts for the rich and corporate welfare then refused to pay the bill without holding the rest of us hostage.  Now the situation they crafted is looming and they still won’t accept responsibility for their failed policies.  

The issue isn’t spending, what caused the deficit are three things:  two wars put on credit, massive tax cuts for the rich and failed economic and regulatory policies which crashed the global economy.  The Great Recession diminished tax revenues as eight million people lost their jobs and 7 million of them their homes.  This was the direct result of Republicans refusals to regulate Wall Street, tax the rich and pay for their wars.  Spending really has nothing to do with it.  In fact economics requires us to be spending more to put folks back to work so they can begin paying taxes again and raise revenues.

Republicans are insisting on raising revenues only by ending deductions and reducing the formula for cost of living increases.  This insidious “reform” would hurt those receiving VA benefits, disability payments, Social Security, welfare, food stamps and other social safety net benefits designed to lift them out of poverty, keep them warm in winter and feed their kids.  It would throw more Americans into poverty and increase hunger.  This is what they want to do instead of taxing the richest 1%.  It’s beyond insidious, it’s inhumane.


Sen. Toomey Hates Disabled People

Senator Pat Toomey hates disabled people.  That includes me so this is personal.  Yesterday he joined a raft of other Republican Senators to deny ratification of The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  This treaty was modeled after or own Americans With Disabilities Act and encourages all nations to adopt the reforms passed under President George H.W. Bush.  It in no way violates American sovereignty but gives access and rights to disabled people around the world.  Why does Pat Toomey hate disabled people?  We’ll remember this in four years when he’s up for re-election.

News & Notes December 4, 2012

Seventeen days until the end of the Mayan calendar and the latest doomsday.  Why are we fretting over the fiscal cliff if the world is ending on the 21st?

At the rate Andy Reid is firing people by the end of the season he’ll be the last Eagle standing.  Then Jeff Lurie can fire him.

It’s good to be home but I have to catch up on what’s happening.  I took a vacation from the computer as much as anything and it was nice.  If you’re enjoying the warm weather, I brought it back with me.

SC Sen. Jim DeMint still doesn’t get it that raising taxes actually creates jobs.  He’s still stuck on conservative talking points which facts belie.  Of course he’s a Tea Party leader so we can’t expect him to be intelligent.  The time of our greatest prosperity was when the tax rate on the rich was over 70%.

Actress Ashley Judd is considering a challenge to Miss McConnell in Kentucky.  If she runs we all need to support her effort.

Papa Johns Pizza is backing off its criticism of ObamaCare after it became a flash point.  After costing the company much business when the meager cost of health care in comparison to the 2 million free pizzas it was giving away gave the company egg all over its face.

So Ann Romney can’t stop crying?  Too bad.  Imagine how many millions would have been crying after losing their Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government benefits if they;d won.  Oh wait, we’re losing all that under President Obama anyway.

I’m very comfortable with my vote for Jill Stein.

Sen. Pileggi is back trying to beat a dead horse.  His plan to split the state’s electoral votes will die another quick death.  There’s too much at stake when we’re a major battleground state to risk for Pennsylvania’s media companies and hospitality businesses.  Plus it puts GOP Congressional seats at risk.

The Brookings Institution says Pittsburgh is one of three metro areas to have recovered from the recession.  Credit must go to Mayor Ravenstahl and other elected officials for this achievement.

Someone posted a picture of a deer killed in Dimock on facebook last week and it went viral.  The animal was covered with cancerous tumors.  Now a report says livestock in fracking areas are falling sick and dying.  The water’s fine though, just keep listening to those brainwashing ads the energy industry has all over TV about how safe everything is.

News & Notes December 2, 2012

Nineteen days until the end of the world.  I’m not buying into the latest doomsday hype.  The end is coming but it’ll be because global warming wipes out our species.  We aren’t there yet.

I fly home tomorrow (Monday) and land at Philadelphia late.  It took three weeks to adjust to Mountain time and now I come home to Eastern…  The vacation has been great and I made sure to de-tether from the computer for a while.

Former State sen. Bob Mellow was sentenced to 16 months in prison.  At this rate we’ll have to build  anew prison just for former pols.

Republican Rep. Mike Fleck came out of the closet.  He is now the first openly gay man to serve in Harrisburg taking the wind out of Brian Sims’ sails.  Still, it’s always good to see someone have the courage to live who they are instead of a lie.  

Yesterday was World AIDS Day.

Former Congressman Jason Altmire, who opposed health care reform, is taking a new job lobbying for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida.  Before running for Congress he worked in the health care field in Pittsburgh.  Always a shill for a broken industry we have one thing to say to Jason:  don;t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out of PA.

Gov. Gasbag has his eyes open and focused on destroying public pensions.  Yes, if you spent thirty years working teaching our youth, serving the public and doing it for less than you’e earn in the private sector in return for a fixed pension you’re about to be the latest Pennsylvanians screwed by this Governor.

Meanwhile former PSU President Graham Spanier gets a $3.3 million golden parachute to leave Happy Valley.  Money for nothing for a child molester enabler but none for teachers.

A state task force has reported back on changes to state laws regarding child sexual abuse.   Since Democrat/Republican Justice Committee Chair Tom Caltagirone is no longer running that Committee perhaps they might get passed this time.  The Reading Representative killed similar efforts when he was Committee Chair on orders from his masters in the Catholic Church.  Caltagirone protects pedophile priests at the cost of our children;s health and welfare.