The McCormack-Dickstein Committee (1934-1935)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

This House committee was named after its chairman and vice chairman, John W. McCormack and Samuel Dickstein. It was called the Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities. In 1934, it held public and private hearings in six cities, questioned hundreds of witnesses and collected testimony filling 4,300 pages. Its mandate was to get “information on how foreign subversive propaganda entered the U.S. and the organizations that were spreading it.”

It did not do well in dealing with homegrown U.S. fascists, nor did it consider how Americans helped spread fascism abroad. It did investigate the fascist plot to seize the White House, but was criticized by John Spivak, Smedley Butler and others, for not revealing – let alone questioning – the powerful men behind the plot. Although it spent more time tracking communist activities than it did fascist ones, its final report on Feb. 15, 1935, did substantiate the truth of the fascist plot. Despite its shortcomings, it was the only “un-American” committee to investigate fascism. It was quickly disbanded and replaced with another such committee that focused entirely on pursuing communists.

Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

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