Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE
PART EIGHTEEN: In this issue the Fool Killer stated his mission in his newest incarnation (Or “regeneration” we could say with tongue in cheek.) was “the general overturning of all established institutions of every kind.” … “The Hour of Doom has struck for many of this old world’s pet institutions.” Quite a long way from his 1830s mission of driving the Devil out of the Tennessee Hills and killing fools who tried stealing the “hidden” gold of the Melungeons!
A look at the “fools” targeted by the Fool Killer in the September, 1919 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication The Fool-Killer:
*** Astronomers claiming that an alignment of planets on December 17th, 1919 would cause a solar explosion visible from Earth, resulting in catastrophic storms and a devastating winter here. A nice touch of cultural kitsch is the way that, with the proposed League of Nations a topic of interest, the astronomers were calling the alignment “The League of Planets.”
*** Democrat President Woodrow Wilson and his operatives who had tried to keep the Bullitt Report out of the public record. This situation came to light when William C Bullitt, Jr was testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his mission to the Soviet Union in February and March of 1919. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge allowed Bullitt to enter his suppressed report into the Senate record.
Pearson’s Fool Killer obviously shared his creator’s suspicion that the Wilson Administration wanted Bullitt’s findings suppressed because those findings put Lenin and the Bolshevik Government in Moscow in a better light than Wilson wanted.
NOTE: This entire tableau is a wonderful example of a situation in which the major Parties’ attitudes toward the Soviet dictatorship had not yet become set in stone, as they would after the Second World War. In this case we have the Democrat Woodrow Wilson MAINTAINING A HARDER LINE TOWARD THE COMMUNISTS than his Republican critics. In particular Wilson hoped to keep the public from finding out that Lenin had made noises to Bullitt about his “intentions” to honor the previous Russian governments’ debts to Western nations.
It’s pretty humorous to think about. America went from the Democrats wanting all-out hostility to the Bolsheviks (the Russian Civil War was still raging) but the Republicans showing a more conciliatory air toward them. By the heart of the Cold War the two political parties had switched attitudes almost completely.
James Larkin Pearson was, as I’ve covered before, difficult to categorize. He openly opposed the Democrat President Wilson. He blasted Republican fetishism of profits and unrestrained capitalism. Pearson always sided with labor over management in the strikes of the era. Pearson was demonstratively religious, calling upon his fellow Socialists to stop showing hostility toward Christianity and God. Pearson in 1919 also seems to have been suckered in by the Bolsheviks’ rosy, deceptive depiction of where they were taking the emerging Soviet Union.
*** People who supported the idea of America entering into the League of Nations. Pearson and his Fool Killer based their opposition to the League of Nations on the – apparently widely shared leftist view at the time – that the League would just be a tool of the Capitalists against the rest of us.
It’s interesting to see this in a CONTEMPORARY publication, because it flies in the face of the cliched teaching forced down the throats of successive generations of American students. We were told that all the Americans who opposed entry into the League of Nations were NOT leftists but were the stereotypical right-wing yahoos motivated by ignorant xenophobia. But hey, who are you going to believe? People writing AT THE TIME or your teachers pushing the accepted party line several decades later?
*** Democrat newspapers which criticized the plutocrats – “plutes” as Pearson and his Fool Killer called them – yet at election time always endorsed politicians who did the bidding of those “plutes.”
*** Clergy members who railed against the still-new movie industry. The Fool Killer stated that “A good moving picture is more helpful than a bad sermon.”
*** Woodrow Wilson’s advisor Edward M House, whose silence regarding his falling-out with Wilson the Fool Killer wanted to break.
NOTE: House had fallen out with Wilson because Wilson felt that House had not energetically enough pushed Wilson’s proposals at the Paris Peace Conference. When House made the reasonable suggestion that the president should try compromising with Republicans in the Senate regarding the League of Nations, Wilson broke off with him completely.
As history tells us, this was when Wilson had suffered a series of strokes which left him debilitated, addle-minded and paranoid. The president was falling out with many long-time supporters during this time. We know more today than Americans at the time knew about Wilson’s condition. Pearson’s curiosity about what House might have to say about the break with Wilson is understandable considering the Bunker Mentality that Wilson and his wife were developing.
*** Republican Senator Philander Knox from Pennsylvania. The Fool Killer didn’t specify why.
*** Democrat Senator Henry Myers (Pearson misspelled it “Meyers”), who suggested that the U.S. would be under Soviet rule within 2 years. This one is puzzling. I can’t find anything indicating if Myers said this hopefully (as in pro-Soviet) or if he was anti-communist and was scare-mongering or if he was anti-“plutes” and might have been warning them that if they didn’t change their ways that America might fall to its own version of a revolution. The Fool Killer seems to agree with Myers’ assessment but I still can’t determine in what context Myers meant it.
*** Samuel Gompers, whom the Fool Killer felt was becoming too friendly with the Establishment.
*** Dr Frank Crane, who was regarded by the Fool Killer as too sweet and saccharine with his philosophical writings. In context it seems like Pearson regarded Crane as a more cerebral version of the later schmaltz-master Leo Buscaglia. If Crane was writing today, his feel-good gibberish would DEFINITELY qualify him for The Oprah Winfrey Book Club.
*** Fire and Brimstone Preachers, whom he opposed on grounds of interpretation of various Scriptures that my atheist mind finds far too irrational and boring to get into. Though I DO like his attacks on Fire and Brimstone Preachers. For the more religious minded a scholarly examination of Pearson’s Fool Killer awaits you! I’m neither qualified nor interested.
*** People opposed to the (Glenn Edward) Plumb Plan for the government to take control of the railroads. The Fool Killer felt President Wilson was on the side of the “plutes” and had sabotaged calls for state-run railroads.
NOTE: This, too, is funny considering present-day attitudes. The political right today regards Wilson as an arch-leftist who set the country on the path to socialism/ communism, yet here we see Wilson being criticized as a buddy/pawn of the railroad tycoons and opposed to nationalization of the rails. Hilarious!
*** For the second time the Fool Killer targeted the 1919 gang of sleazy Preachers who were part of The Seventy-Five Million Dollar Campaign, claiming they were raising the money for “good works.” (Wink) At least they did not claim that “God would call them home” if they failed to raise the specified amount, like a much-later televangelist did.
*** “Doughboys” (American soldiers from the World War) who were what the Fool Killer described as doughy-soft in the head IF after all they went through they were still willing to fight for the moneyed interests. (Again, I include all the people preyed upon by the Fool Killer in the name of accuracy.)
FOR PART NINETEEN CLICK HERE
I WILL EXAMINE MORE FOOL KILLER LORE SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK FOR UPDATES.
FOR MY LOOK AT JOE MAGARAC, THE STEEL MILL VERSION OF JOHN HENRY AND PAUL BUNYAN, CLICK HERE
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