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MenckenThe American Iconoclast$
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Marion Elizabeth Rodgers

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072389

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195072389.001.0001

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Marion Elizabeth Rodgers

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the many contradictions in Mencken's character, taking apart his prejudices that are revealed privately and in public. Although Mencken said and wrote nothing about the Jews in Germany upon his return, it was clear that he was troubled. It was not until Kristallnacht, in November 1938, that Mencken publicly spoke about their persecution. Just as he did during the Maryland lynchings, Mencken castigated Franklin D. Roosevelt for doing nothing. Going against the prevailing anti-Semitic mood of the country, Mencken wrote columns calling for the United States to open its doors to German Jewish refugees. Privately, he sponsored the entry of Jewish families into the US. Jewish intellectuals also questioned why Mencken, as a champion of civil liberties, had not done more.

Keywords:   Jews, African-Americans, Franklin D. Roosevelt, civil liberties

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