Several years before the memorably titled Behind the Lace Curtains of the YWCA was published, a report on its author was issued by the New York chapter of the Friends of Democracy, Inc. The 1945 report, entitled "Joe Kamp, Peddler of Propaganda," revealed some information on his M.O. that will come as little surprise to anyone who has ever bothered to read any of the right wing agitator's pamphleteering efforts (the pre-Internet version of blogging). An August 2, 1945 Scripps-Howard news article by Frederick Woltman shared some of the nuggets from the report:
Through his league…Kamp "peddles confusion" by pinning "Communist" and "Un-American" labels indiscriminately on liberal and democratic organizations. The Friends of Democracy document as reported on by the Scripps-Howard article also explains the origins of Kamp's propaganda vehicle, the Constitutional Educational League, Inc. It was founded in 1919 by Chief Justice William Howard Taft and General Leonard Wood "for the purpose of defending constitutional government." Unfortunately, a description of how Kamp took over the organization is not offered. However, the article does stress that the League under Kamp had no remnants of the Taft incarnation. This did not stop Kamp from touting the noble roots of the League at every opportunity, including on the back page of Behind the Lace Curtains of the YWCA.
Kamp pamphlets are distributed by Ex-Senator Robert R. Reynolds' Nationalist Party, which the Scripps-Howard articles described as anti-Negro, anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic and basing its appeal on the exploitation of labor strife and glorification of dictatorship.
So what is this particular pamphlet all about and what is its purpose? Kamp's unwieldy subtitle lays it all out for the curious reader: "A Report on the Extent and Nature of Infiltration by Communist, Socialist and Other Left Wing Elements, and the Resultant Red Complexion of Propaganda Disseminated In, By and Through the Young Women’s Christian Association."
And just what did the YWCA do to deserve the unwelcome attention of Mr. Kamp? According to the "Background Notes" in the booklet, the League began its "investigation... at the request of a substantial contributor to the YWCA when, in October, 1947, three officials of the Queens (N.Y.) YWCA resigned after charging Communist infiltration in the national organization."
Naturally, Kamp's "investigation" uncovered a bounty of "incriminating" material on the charitable organization. Here is how the clearly outraged author introduces the booklet proper:
It is hard to believe that this well-sponsored and highly-respected Christian movement could be involved in helping to promote the atheistic philosophy of Karl Marx, or that it would extol the alleged virtues of Godless Russia and decry the so-called sins of the U.S.A. Yet the facts set down here will prove all this…and more. Most of the rest of Behind the Lace Curtains of the YWCA is a paranoid recitation of all the dubious evidence Kamp uncovered by rummaging through YWCA literature. Here are a few examples of the damning case against the "Y." This first item comes from a section headed "Religion... With a Revolutionary Flavor":
Both deft and brazen touches of Communist propaganda are to be found in YWCA booklets and pamphlets, hymn books and prayer books, magazines and newsletters, in most of which the writings of Communist authors are recommended and advertised. Furthermore, “Y” leaders and students are constantly referred to outside sources for study material—the majority of which are either Left Wing, pro-Communist or outright Communist.
The YWCA is primarily a Christian organization and it would be expected that religious services, at least, would be free from Communist contamination. However, an inspection of one of the most widely-used books in YWCA religious circles is enlightening. It is written by Winnifred Wygal, who played a leading role in the Communist American Youth Congress. Its title is "WE PLAN OUR OWN WORSHIP SERVICES."This quotation comes from a section in the booklet headed "Music... With Marxist Overtones":
At first glance the material is of a conventional nature, but toward the center of the book, one is surprised to read a sub-head: “Modern Dance, rhythmic motions,” with the observation that “this might become an effective way of expressing religious feeling.” The real shock comes, however, when one finds, in a section entitled "Resource Materials Useful in Planning Services of Worship," a listing for the "Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti..."
Recreation is another phase of YWCA activity which has felt the subtle touch of Communist influence. "Y' songsheets and songbooks feature the works of outstanding Communists—Langston Hughes, Earl Robinson, Woody Guthrie, Anna Louise Strong. The YWCA has not only published such typically Communist songs as Solidarity and the Internationale, but sheet music and phonograph records of Earl Robinson, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Music for Political Action, etc, are advertised and recommended in "Y" publications. Another thing Kamp found outrageously Communistic about the YWCA is that their national board in 1936 voted unanimously to support the Scottsboro Defense Committee. In Kamp’s mind the support of an organization seeking the freedom of railroaded young southern black men (The Scottsboro Boys) falsely accused of raping white women is a dreadful thing because the Daily Worker newspaper took positive notice of it.
The closing brief of the booklet that demands that the YWCA clear its own name by disproving Kamp's allegations or fess up to its supposed Red sins could have been (and perhaps was?) ghostwritten by Joseph McCarthy:
The American way to meet these charges would be for YWCA leaders to disprove any and all of the charges, if they can. But what good is a pamphlet without a call to action (and a solicitation for funds) from the public:
Let them prove that the persons accused of Communist affiliation were not so affiliated, or that the organizations in question were not Communist movements.
Let the YWCA prove by its own record, if it can, that it has no sympathy for any Communist, Socialist or Left Wing philosophy…and that it believes in and has approved and supported our American system of society and government and the American way of life…without any ifs, ands or buts.
Or, let the YWCA confess the mistakes that have been made in its name, eliminate the traitors to its cause, and rededicate itself to Christ and Country.
What YOU can do about itThe following is a list of Kamp’s organization’s other publications transcribed from the last page of the booklet:
You can help to arouse and mobilize public opinion and bring about a house cleaning in the YWCA by telling and retelling the facts set forth in this booklet, by writing letters about it to your local newspaper and by getting copies of this booklet into the hands of representative citizens whose influence will be helpful in getting action.
You can help in the general campaign against Communism by distributing copies of the booklets listed on the next page. Get copies for your associates in the business where you work and for your neighbors. Mail copies to your friends and relatives in other communities suggesting that they assist in giving them wider circulation. Or send us a list and let us do the job for you.
Contribute according to your means (in any amount) to the support of the League so that these booklets and similar patriotic literature may be distributed where they will do most good.
Turn to the next page and fill out the coupon. Do it NOW... while you are thinking about it.
CONSTITUTIONAL EDUCATIONAL LEAGUE INC. PAMPHLET LIST And what propaganda masterpiece would be complete without a hagiography of the demagogue who wrote it. As you read the professional biography that has been transcribed from the first page of the booklet below, bear in mind that the hugely popular right wing columnist Walter Winchell loathed Mr. Kamp and frequently took potshots at him in print. Indeed, Winchell once called Kamp a "fascist" and Kamp fired back with a pamphlet entitled "With Lotions of Love" (Winchell used this sponsor tagline as his radio show sign-off) attacking Winchell. This pamphlet is listed along with the other propaganda above.
BEHIND THE LACE CURTAINS OF THE YWCA. 50 cents each; 3 for $1.00; $30 per hundred.
COMMENT ON COMMUNISTS AND COMMUNISM, a 48-page pamphlet of quotes about Communism from prominent citizens and leading Communists. 25 cents each; 6 for $1.00; $10 per hundred.
HOW... to be an American…to organize for America...to fight un-Americanism. 25 cents each; 5 for $1.00; $15 per hundred.
WAGE SLAVES IN AMERICA, a broadside making a comparison between wages, working and living conditions in Communist Russia, Socialist England, and Free Enterprise America. 10 cents each; 12 for $1.00; $7.50 per hundred.
HIGH TAXES... THE QUICK WAY TO COMMUNISM (Penny pamphlet series No. 8) One cent each.
VOTE CIO... AND GET A SOVIET AMERICA. A 68-page documented booklet exposing Communist political activity through labor unions. 25 cents each; 5 for $1.00; $15 per hundred.
WITH LOTIONS OF LOVE—the biographical booklet Walter Winchell wouldn’t want you to read. 35 cents each; 4 for $1.00; $20 per hundred.
OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS: "Gentlemen: Are you mice or men?" Things you never thought could happen in America are revealed in this 68-page booklet, documented with Photostats, etc. 50 cents each; 3 for $1.00; $30 per hundred.
COMMUNISM is UN-AMERICAN and COMMUNISM is a MENACE. Twin booklet containing articles by Francis Cardinal Spellman and J. Edgar Hoover. Single copy, FREE. 10 cents each up to 50 copies; $5.00 per hundred.
SPECIAL DOSSIER OF PATRIOTIC LITERATURE. Over 40 booklets, pamphlets, etc. including all those listed above and many other informative titles. Only $5 per set.
Another thing to take into account before reading the “official” biography is that on October 6, 1949 Representative S.R. Yates (D-Illinois) read into the Congressional Record a "Hate Group" expose prepared by the Illinois American Legion. It said, in part, of the Kamp’s organization: "Pamphlets issued by the group try to create religious hostility. In its accusations, it makes malicious and irresponsible charges against responsible and respected groups and individuals who are working to strengthen and improve our democracy. The league is a personal vehicle of Kamp’s which sells its pamphlets at profiteering prices in order to insure a good living for him."
Finally, a search of the words “Joseph Kamp anti-Semitic hate” in the books section of Google yielded far too many hits to cite here. So, with these advisories out of the way, go ahead and read the bio...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR In 1952, a few years after publication of Behind the Lace Curtains of the YWCA, Kamp served four months in a federal prison for contempt of Congress.
The author, Joseph P. Kamp, a former magazine and newspaper editor, has been fighting un-Americanism for 30 years. He began to battle Communists in 1919, the year the Communist Party was organized. He continued the fight when it was unpopular and even dangerous to combat Communist friends of the New Deal. He fought the Nazis and Fascists when they began their propaganda in America. He was an active foe of intolerance, bigotry and anti-Semitism when the Ku Klux Klan was in its heyday.
Mr. Kamp was on the scene in Michigan when Federal agents raided the illegal Communist convention in 1922; he was in Passaic, N.J., when the Communists staged their first "lesson in revolution" in America in 1926; he was in Washington when Communist-led bonus and hunger marchers converged on the Capital in the early thirties.
In 1931, a whole year before police authorities made the same discovery, he secured and published documentary evidence proving a Communist campaign to organize "runs" on banks.
In 1933, he began to expose Reds on the Government payroll and published articles that were previews of disclosures made years later by the Dies and Thomas Committees on Un-American Activities.
In 1937, when the nation was plagued with sit-down strikes and violence, he was the first to document charges of Communist leadership in the CIO.
In 1940, he published an expose naming high officials who were using government funds and prestige to advance the cause of Communism in the United States. Some of those he listed have now been named in the Communist spy ring investigation.
In 1941, several months before Pearl Harbor, he compiled a MAP and DIRECTORY locating thousands of Nazi, Fascist and Communist centers and listing more than 800 subversive movements.
In 1944, he wrote a devastating indictment of Sidney Hillman, his associates and their campaign to take over the Democratic Party.
In August, 1947, he published the full story of the Communist spy ring and identified by position the spy ring leaders who have just recently been named in testimony before Congressional committees.
Before, during and since the war, his extensive files supplied information on subversive activity to Police Officials, Members of Congress, Civil Service, Army and Navy Intelligence and the FBI.
He is Vice Chairman of the Constitutional Educational League.
Hon. Charles E. Clarke, author and former Assistant Corporation Counsel of New York, writes that "Joseph P, Kamp is recognized as the outstanding authority on subversive activities in the United States," and the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph said editorially that Mr. Kamp is "one of the most reliable and patriotic publicists this country has ever produced... It is doubtful if any man in the United States has rendered a finer service to the cause of Americanism."
Lambert Fairchild, Chairman
Constitutional Educational League, Inc.
In his later years Kamp worked for the far right, anti-Semitic group, Liberty Lobby.
According to the book Time Bomb by Emanuel A. Piller (Arco, 1945), Joseph Peter Kamp was born in Yonkers, New York on May 3, 1900. And according to the Social Security Death Index, Kamp died in Florida in June of 1993. CONELRAD was unable to locate any obituaries for him.
Trivia note: According to page 234 of the journal Middle East (Volume 30B, 2006) Joseph P. Kamp is an uncle of Academy Award winning actor Jon Voight and a great uncle of Academy Award winning actor Angelina Jolie (Voight's daughter). Mr. Voight's IMdB biography notes that his mother’s maiden name was Barbara Kamp and that her father’s name was Joseph Kamp. No mention is made of Ms. Kamp's controversial brother.
Over a half century has passed since the publication of Behind the Lace Curtains of the YWCA. It is only fitting to take this opportunity to point out that the object of the booklet’s attack continues to serve communities across the nation while Kamp's paranoid screed is nothing but a Cold War curiosity.
BEHIND THE LACE CURTAINS OF THE YWCA
Joseph P. Kamp
Copyright 1948 by the Constitutional Educational League, Inc.