Should Hayworth choose his heroes more carefully?
The Arizona Republic

Last week, Rep. J.D. Hayworth issued a statement about the current conflict in the Middle East that begins, "Let it be clear that Americans stand foursquare with our allies in Israel," which he describes as "an oasis of democracy in a desert of desolation."

Given such unwavering support for Israel, I thought that Hayworth might be troubled to learn that in the book he co-wrote on the immigration crisis, Whatever It Takes, he sings the praises of American icon Henry Ford, who was admired and honored by Adolf Hitler and who used his wealth to spread hateful propaganda about Jews through a newspaper he owned and through a book called The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem.

But I was wrong. Apparently, this doesn't bother Hayworth a bit.

On July 14, the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix published an editorial pointing out Hayworth's admiration for Ford's views on assimilation by immigrants.

The editorial quotes Hayworth as writing, "The ever-so-successful process that used to be called 'Americanization' was a major movement in the early 1900s . . . Henry Ford, a leader in this movement, said, 'These men of many nations must be taught American ways, the English language, and the right way to live.' Talk like that today and our liberal elites will brand you a cultural imperialist, or worse. But if you ask me, Ford had a better idea."

The editorial argues that Ford's Americanization was a concept tied to his well-documented anti-Semitism. It concludes, "We're not saying that Hayworth is anti-Semitic - only that he should choose his heroes more carefully."

That's it, really. It's easy to imagine a writer using a quotation that sums up his view on a subject without knowing the whole story of the person he's quoting.

But when I contacted Hayworth's office, their first reaction was to tell me that, "The publisher of the Jewish News has contributed to our political opponent."

That may or may not explain why the subject interested them, but it doesn't explain why Hayworth chose to praise the views of Henry Ford. For that, Hayworth's office turned to his co-author, Joe Eule, who wrote me an e-mail that said, "The quote in question was used by Ford to describe Ford Motor Company employees and the work of the Sociology Department at Ford, not any ethnic or religious group."

He added, "If Henry Ford is off limits on Americanization, Thomas Jefferson must likewise be off limits on liberty because he owned slaves. I hope we haven't reached the point where Thomas Jefferson is no longer welcome in polite society."

On the other hand, we now can admit that the founders were wrong about slavery, something we learned the hard way through the Civil War. Just as we've learned the hard way from the anti-Semitism expressed before World War II.

"Essentially, Ford didn't believe that Jews could be Americanized," said Deborah Susser of the Jewish News.

No one would suggest that Hayworth believes such a thing. He is passionate about the border problem and quoted Ford. The fact that he did so has hit the Internet, generating critical postings on liberal web sites and blogs like the Huffington Post. Eule said that others have quoted Ford on Americanization and that Hayworth is being unfairly criticized. I suppose that's why he brought up Jefferson.

Although I don't believe that our third president ever accepted anything like the Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, an honor bestowed on Ford by one of his biggest admirers, Hitler.

Reach Montini at or (602) 444-8978.