Notes from the Littell Project: Opponent of Political Extremism and Totalitarianism

In the 1960s, Franklin H. Littell took a public stand against political extremist groups in America. He created The Freedom Institute at Iowa Wesleyan College; developed an Early Warning System to prevent genocide; and exposed radical radio preachers and the John Birch Society with the support of the Institute for American Democracy.  All these activities supported Littell’s work to educate about and guard against the development of totalitarian regimes.

Ideological programs dominated segments of the American radio industry in the 1950s and 1960s. The Institute for American Democracy (IAD) and Littell worked against radical radio preachers such as Billy James Hargis and Carl McIntire. Along with the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Churches, the IAD utilized the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine as a means to expose and rally against extremist speech.     In an effort to comply with the FCC Fairness Doctrine, Hargis offered Littell equal airtime on his weekly radio broadcast to rebut statements Hargis made against him. Hargis cites his Christian principles “as a minister of God” as reason for extending the opportunity to Littell, but labeled Littell “one of the most dangerous men in United States.”

Courtney Smerz, Project Archivist

Please join us in celebrating the opening of the Littell Collection, April 9, 2:00 pm, Paley Library Lecture Hall. For more information visit

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