Aberhart and the monkey business

The Western Socialist
February 1938

The Social Credit circus in Alberta is still going strong, and Premier Aberhart, who is supposed to be responsible for the whole mess, has been called a liar, a hypocrite, a blasphemer, a Fascist, a coward, a tyrant, a Communist, and many other things, by his various brands of critics. He has also been told that he should be “locked up, horse-whipped, or even hanged”. But many of these critics seem to forget that they themselves dallied with the Social Credit nonsense years before Mr. Aberhart got the bug in his bonnet. Abie just beat them at their own game, that is all.

Judging by the criticism levelled at Aberhart and Social Credit at the present time, a person would come to the conclusion that neither had existed previous to the year 1934 or thereabouts. They both seem to have dropped on to the stage of history together, about four years ago, and neither appears to have a past. But the fact remains that they both have a past that their critics either don’t know anything about, or would rather forget about. For many years before Mr. Aberhart became an advocate of Social Credit, he was making the welkin ring over the radio in a way that was far more offensive to intelligent people than his propaganda of Social Credit is now, but there was never a word of criticism directed against him then by any “person of note” in the Province of Alberta, and hereby hangs a tale.

It will not surprise many people to learn that before Mr. Aberhart became addicted to Social Credit he was an opponent of the “monkey business”. No person who believed himself descended from monkeys could possibly be intelligent enough to understand and accept the Social Credit philosophy. Only people “whose souls are lighted with wisdom from on high”, could do that. It was a gift of God.

Readers of the Western Socialist will remember the good old days of ten or fifteen years ago in the United States when the champions of the Lord girded on their armor and went forth to battle to save civilization from the “hellish doctrine of evolution”. There were giants in the United States in those days. Men such as William Jennings Bryan, the Rev. William Bell Riley, and many others who labored valiantly in the Lord’s vineyard. But we were not without our champion in Alberta. Mr. Aberhart did his best to imitate those great men, and did it very well indeed from a fundamentalist point of view. Sunday after Sunday he thundered from his pulpit in the Prophetic Bible Institute in Calgary against the scoundrels who were trying to make monkeys of us all. Of course he had no opposition in Alberta, but that made no difference, it was a good theme anyhow.

The modernistic preachers of the gospel, wherever they might be, who accepted and defended the theory of evolution, were his special meat, and he called them all the names his critics are calling him today. In one broadcast I listened to he told us that these preachers were worse, much worse, than Darwin, Spencer, Huxley, Tom Paine “and the rest of the dirty bunch”. Of course Tom Paine was not an evolutionist but Mr. Aberhart did not know that, and anyhow, he was a critic of the bible and that was just as bad from the point of view of a man who believes the book from “kiver” to “kiver”.

At this time the U.F.A. government was in power in Alberta, and was carrying on what it called a campaign of education the object of which was to make the people of Alberta the best educated, and most intelligent people in the world with regard to politics, economics, and all questions relating to society. The results of this U.F.A. program of education was demonstrated a few years later when Mr. Aberhart introduced his Social Credit proposal of $25.00 a month for every bona fide citizen to be paid out of our “cultural heritage” without taking a cent’s worth of wealth away from any person who actually had it.

Nevertheless, the U.F.A. was out to educate the people, and as I did not consider Mr. Aberhart’s fundamentalist propaganda was very educational, I wrote a letter to the Department of Education stating that I thought it was the duty of that institution to challenge such propaganda in the interests of education. The Hon. Perren Baker was Minister of Education at the time. He did not answer my letter personally, but his understudy did. He explained that the Provincial government had no control over the radio, and that if I wanted the fundamentalists put off the air I would have to take the matter up with the Dominion government. I replied that I had no desire to put anybody off the air, but I thought it was the duty of a Department of Education of a government that claimed to be out to educate the people, to see that the people heard both sides of the argument, and it was not necessary to control the radio to do that. The answer to that was just a line telling me that my letter had been received. That was all, and that was that. It was a nice polite way of telling me to mind my own business.

You see, so long as Mr. Aberhart was denouncing the theory of evolution, abusing all evolutionists and calling the great scientists and philosophers “a dirty bunch”, he was not considered a menace to the political supremacy of the U.F.A. government. Furthermore, any attempt to challenge his ignorant ravings would have been sure to drive away thousands of good religious sheep from the U.F.A. fold. Of course, if the Hon. Perren Baker, and other members of the U.F.A. government, had known that a few years later Mr. Aberhart, backed by his Social Credit “yes-men”, would overthrow the U.F.A. government, establish himself as Premier, and, in addition, appoint himself Minister of Education of the Province of Alberta, it might have been different. But then, the Hon. Perren Baker, and other members of the United Farmers of Alberta government, were not prophets like Mr. Aberhart.

F. J. McNey