"Hitlerian Disease"

Taking the Fight against the Klan to Stone Mountain

In 1946, Drew Pearson, a popular white radio talk show host, went head-to-head with the Klan. This took place shortly after the revitalization of the third Klan at the summit of Stone Mountain. Calling the Klan a “Hitlerian disease,” he warned that Nazism was seeping into the United States through religious intolerance, “creeping into our national bloodstream.”[1]

Pearson continued his reporting on the “fly-by-night” activities of the Klan, provoking a barrage of “letters threatening all sorts of dire punishment.” Pearson responded defiantly to these letters, writing “So long as this typewriter has a ribbon, it will continue to expose the nightshirt boys despite threats to bump off the operator.”[2] With this, he enraged the Klan even more.

One piece of hate mail, reported by Pearson in the Weekly Review, “challenges me to come to Stone Mountain where ‘We will have a killing time.’” To this Pearson responded with an audacious plan: to bring his popular nationwide broadcast to Stone Mountain itself. “I don’t like to disappoint anybody,” he wrote, “not even the Klan, so I will come to Stone Mountain… and I will broadcast from Stone Mountain what I think of an order which peddles Hitler hate which is afraid to show its face in public. They can show their faces at Stone Mountain if they dare.”[3]

The Klan—unwilling to let their sacred Monument to the Confederacy be used in this humiliating way—backed down, and the family who owned Stone Mountain “notified him that they will not permit a broadcast from the mountain top during which Pearson planned to denounce the Ku Klux Klan.”[4]

Pearson never had the chance to broadcast on top of Stone Mountain, but he continued attacking the Klan through his journalism, even delivering a speech on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol lambasting the rise of hate groups nationwide. The Pittsburgh Courier published the text of this speech: “So Ku Klux Klanism and all the other isms which preach hate are not merely the business of the South; they are the business of the Nation. And as with Hitler, the time to stamp it out is now.”[5]

Pearson contended that the Confederate heroes idolized by the Klan would be ashamed of the Klan actions done in their name, insisting that “General Lee would have horsewhipped a grand dragon from his tent.”[6] Finally, Pearson accused the Klan of being unchristian, stating that “On Stone Mountain, the Klan talked of lynching other men. When Christ spoke on a mountain, He spoke of loving other men. History reveres men of goodwill. But history will ridicule and despise the fiery crosses on Stone Mountain because the fiery cross break faith with the Cross on Calvary.”[7]

Justin Seward


Pearson, Drew. “Hitlerian Diseases in USA Year After Germany’s Defeat.” Tampa Bay Times, May 8, 1946.

Pearson, Drew. “Pearson Lists Klan Activities Despite Threatening Letters.” Tampa Bay Times, June 3, 1946.

Pittsburgh Courier. “Hatred US Problem.” July 27, 1946.

Tampa Bay Times, “Drew Pearson Says He Can’t Use Mountain.” June 17, 1946.

Weekly Review, “Klan’s Challenge Accepted By Daring Radio Commentator.” June 22, 1946.

  1. (Pearson, “Hitlerian Diseases in USA Year After Germany’s Defeat.”) ↩︎

  2. (Pearson, “Pearson Lists Klan Activities Despite Threatening Letters.”) ↩︎

  3. Weekly Review, “Klan’s Challenge Accepted By Daring Radio Commentator.” ↩︎

  4. Tampa Bay Times, “Drew Pearson Says He Can’t Use Mountain.” ↩︎

  5. Pittsburgh Courier, “Hatred US Problem.” ↩︎

  6. Pittsburgh Courier, “Hatred US Problem.” ↩︎

  7. Pittsburgh Courier, “Hatred US Problem.” ↩︎