Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Famous Loomises (II): Homer Loomis

Homer Loomis was an American fascist.

Specifically, Loomis was a race-baiter and self-proclaimed fascist who attempted to rouse the people of Atlanta into white supremacist politics in the years after World War II. Originally from New York City, Loomis was a co-founder of The Columbians, Inc. in 1946. Disgusted by the gains African-Americans had made during World War II, Loomis and his cohort hoped to ignite a race war and moved to Atlanta to do so. According to Kevin Kruse, from whose White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism this is drawn from, Loomis wanted to be the Hitler of America.

"His hair was close cropped, Prussian style," an acquaintance recalled, "and his eyes had a Satanical look about them." Loomis had a specific model in mind. "I'm going to be the Hitler of America," he bragged. Friends were asked to greet him with, "Heil, Loomis!"

In order to join the Columbians, Loomis had three requirements. "Number one: Do you hate niggers? Number two: Do you hate Jews? Number three, Do you  have three dollars?" This combination of racism and hucksterism caught fire in the working-class districts of Atlanta, where a growing African-American population was pressing into white neighborhoods. The Columbians focused their efforts on keeping all-white neighborhoods that way; as Kruse demonstrates, that was the fundamental issue that would shape post-war racial politics in Atlanta.

The Atlanta establishment was having none of this. Having prided themselves on a paternalistic racial tolerance, they weren't ready to let neo-fascists overturn their power base. Although they would later lose their hold on the city's politics in the face of massive resistance to the civil rights movement, in the 1940s that time had not yet arrived.

Homer Loomis faced tried in 1947 on charges of inciting a riot, assault, and usurping police powers. Despite his lawyer-father pleading to the jury that his son was being "crucified like Christ by the Jews," the jury sentenced Loomis to 2 years on the chain gang followed by 6 months in prison.

As far as I can tell, Loomis disappeared from the scene after 1947. But once white supremacists began cloaking racism in more respectable language around ideas of property rights and freedom of association, beginning to develop what I call the New Racism, Loomis' ideas took hold in the white population, even if is messianic tendencies and overt fascism did not.

A lengthy discussion of The Columbians, Inc. can be found here.