The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is urging presidential candidate Donald Trump to reconsider his use of the phrase “America First” as a slogan describing his approach to foreign affairs, citing its anti-Semitic use in the months before Pearl Harbor by a group of prominent Americans seeking to keep the nation out of World War II.
The most noteworthy leader of the “America First Committee” was Charles Lindbergh, who sympathized with the Nazis and whose rhetoric was characterized by anti-Semitism and offensive stereotypes, including assertions that Jews posed a threat to the U.S. because of their influence in motion pictures, radio, the press, and the government.
“The undercurrents of anti-Semitism and bigotry that characterized the America First movement – including the assumption that Jews who opposed the movement had their own agenda and were not acting in America’s best interest – is fortunately not a major concern today,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “However, for many Americans, the term ‘America First’ will always be associated with and tainted by this history. In a political season that already has prompted a national conversation about civility and tolerance, choosing a call to action historically associated with incivility and intolerance seems ill-advised.”
In a letter to Mr. Trump, ADL urged him to refrain from using the slogan in the future.