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35 - Anti-Semitism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2014

Ira B. Nadel
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

Speaking on Radio Roma on April 27, 1943, Ezra Pound declared “I think it might be a good thing to hang Roosevelt and a few hundred yidds if you can do it by due legal process” (EPS, 289). Such anti-Semitic, treasonous sentiment is found throughout the speeches that he broadcast for Radio Roma between 1941 and 1943. Refusing to speak anonymously (unlike other radio propagandists) Pound insisted on being introduced as an American citizen and, with the FBI investigating his activities, he was subsequently indicted in 1943 for treason – an offense that could carry the death penalty.

Detained by American forces in May 1945, Pound spent six months in the Army's Disciplinary Training Center near Pisa before being flown to Washington, DC. Much of the public outcry about his case was directed not so much at the treason charge as at the fervency of his anti-Semitism. In a New Masses article titled “Should Ezra Pound be Shot?” for example, a number of the contributors argued that in the context of the Jewish Shoah taking place, Pound's anti-Semitic pronouncements were themselves reason to execute him. As Norman Rosten stated the case, he “should be shot…as a fascist hireling [who] contributed to the murder of the innocent.” So when a Federal court declared the poet to be unfit to stand trial after a psychiatric examination deemed him to be insane, many people felt that Pound's anti-Semitism remained an unresolved issue.

Endeavoring to shed more light, Pound scholars have variously held his radio speeches and psychiatric records to be the linchpins on which to base arguments as to whether his anti-Semitism was heart-felt, transitory, or a symptom of insanity. In that respect, Robert Casillo’s The Genealogy of Demons: Anti-Semitism, Fascism, and the Myths of Ezra Pound (1988) was the first major study to argue that the speeches’ anti-Semitism was not an incidental phase nor a mental aberration but is indicative of a racism that underpins Pound’s politics, economics, and aesthetics throughout his career.

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Ezra Pound in Context , pp. 391 - 401
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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  • Anti-Semitism
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Ezra Pound in Context
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777486.039
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  • Anti-Semitism
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Ezra Pound in Context
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777486.039
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Anti-Semitism
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Ezra Pound in Context
  • Online publication: 05 July 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777486.039
Available formats
×