Norman Thomas: The Great Dissenter
Autographed photograph America Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December 19, 1968) was an American Presbyterian minister who achieved fame as a socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. Thomas was initially as outspoken in opposing the Second World War as he was with regard to the First World War. Upon returning from a European tour in 1937, he formed the Keep America Out of War Congress and spoke against war, thereby sharing a platform with the America First Committee. However, after the United States was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, his stance changed to support for US involvement, and later wrote self-critically for having overemphasized both the sense in which it was a continuance of World War I and the capacity of nonfascist Europe to resist the Nazis. Thomas was one of the few public figures to oppose President Franklin Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Thomas accused the ACLU of dereliction of duty when the organization supported the internment. Thomas also campaigned against racial segregation, environmental depletion, anti-labor laws and practices, and in favor of opening the United States to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution in the 1930s. Thomas was an early proponent of birth control. He also deplored the secular objection to birth control because it originated from racial and national group-think. Thomas was also very critical of Zionism and of Israel's policies towards the Arabs in the postwar years (especially after the Suez Crisis) and often collaborated with the American Council for Judaism.
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