Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Courage of Charles Lindbergh


Today is the seventieth anniversary of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. This is not the sort of anniversary that Google commemorates on its front page, like Pederasty Day or Martin Luther King Month. Why not? Well to tell you the truth, I have no idea why there is so little fanfare in modern times about the day that FDR stated would live in infamy. Maybe that hackneyed quotation is itself the point. The fact is that when it comes to Pearl Harbor, the homeless modern liberal has no idea what he’s supposed to think. On the one hand, the cowardly Japanese attack of December 7, 1941 has been decidedly condemned by one of the icons of liberaldom, Mr. New Deal himself. On the other hand, what’s not to like about a day on which hordes of lovable Asians transgressed all codes of honor by slaughtering thousands of unsuspecting Whites? And so the denizens of journalism do not know which of their idols to appease: should they kowtow to ethnic feelings by screening the public from the facts about the Pearl Harbor atrocity? Or should they exploit December Seventh as an opportunity to lionize Roosevelt, and through him their god Obama? The resulting silence is deafening, and highly amusing in its illumination of the convulsions of liberal logic.

I am not going to bore you with another recitation of the facts about FDR deliberately ignoring reliable intelligence that plainly showed that the attack was coming. Those who know the true score about our foolish and disastrous entry into the Second World War cannot fail to see that Roosevelt had been openly clamoring for a war, any war, since long before his inauguration in 1933. As John T. Flynn demonstrates so deftly in his Country Squire in the White House (1940), young Roosevelt, while still serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Wilson during the First Great Unjust war, had been giving speeches all over the country proclaiming that, “We want the country to feel, too, that in maintaining a fighting force of the highest efficiency we are at the same time educating thousands of young men to be better citizens [Flynn’s italics].” Flynn then spells out a bit of what this ought to have shown Americans when Roosevelt was being vetted for the presidency about twenty years later.

“[W]e find him here [in 1913] playing with an idea that he would nurse through the years—that military training educates young Americans to be better citizens [Flynn’s italics]. There are many who believe that some military training in schools or colleges adds to education a useful element. But that a stretch in the army or navy by itself, with its discipline, its stratification of classes, its living by orders, is precisely the kind of education for American citizens—that is an opinion shared by few American educators.”

However accurate Flynn may have been in that last pronouncement about the philosophy of education in 1940, he was totally wrong if he thought that future educators would share his doubts about giving education a militant form. As it turned out during the rest of the 20th century, Roosevelt’s militant view of education sank in completely with American educators, who fully absorbed FDR’s idea that pedagogy ought to emulate the ideas of total war that inform our military. And just as it is the mission of the American military to make the world safe for democracy, it is the mission of the American schools to produce cooperative taxpayers who are as enthralled by the apparatus of the central government as they are by its military.

What does all of this have to do with White History Month? Our spotlight today falls upon one of the most heroic Americans, Charles Lindbergh. The fury with which the Lone Eagle is today denounced by neoconservatives ought to clue us in quickly that this is a man we need to study.

Lindbergh was an amazing and fascinating man in several different walks of life. His accomplishments as an aviator are very well known, not the least of which is his famed nonstop flight from New York City to Paris, completed on May 21, 1927 when he was a mere 25 years old. Despite the fact that he was already a US Army Air veteran who had shown vast physical courage as a pilot, Lindbergh was not drawn in by the warmongering of either Woodrow Wilson (whose activities Lindbergh’s father had staunchly opposed as a Congressman), nor of Roosevelt throughout the New Deal era. It would be one thing if Lindbergh’s critics could point out, as they can with someone like Cindy Sheehan, that he was a deranged pacifist. But such a dismissal is impossible in Lindbergh’s case, not only because of his Medal of Honor, but also because of his ultimate role in WWII. But more on that later.



Of all that Lindbergh accomplished in his career, nothing can compare to his defiant leadership of the America First campaign. The group was established in 1940 and eventually boasted a membership of 800,000, giving the lie to the crazy myth that Americans were solidly united about the need for American intervention prior to Pearl Harbor. Lindbergh threw all of his weight behind the campaign, even though the pain of his son’s murder and the resulting media circus had by 1940 driven him overseas to live with his family in England. It was during his time abroad in Europe that Lindbergh was afforded an ideal opportunity to inspect the German military, to acquaint himself with the political situation in England and France, and to conclude firmly that America had nothing to gain, and much to lose from intruding into the European theater. On that basis, Lindbergh traveled several times to America First events in New York City, Chicago and elsewhere during 1940 and 1941. It was Lindbergh’s opinion that,

“The potentially gigantic power of America, guided by uninformed and impractical idealism, might crusade into Europe to destroy Hitler without realizing that Hitler’s destruction would lay Europe open to the rape, loot and barbarism of Soviet Russia’s forces, causing possibly the fatal wounding of western civilization.” [Quoted from David Gordon, America First: The Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War 1940-1941. CUNY Graduate Center, 2003.]

Doesn’t he sound like a maniac? Yes, he sounds just like several other maniacs from American history, such as the Copperhead Congressman Clement Vallandigham who was imprisoned by Abraham Lincoln for questioning the president’s crusade in the South. And he also sounds like that loony Ron Paul, who cautioned that George Bush’s excursions in the Middle East might not turn out to be all that he was cracking them up to be. All three men were vindicated in their prophecies, and all three men faced the venom of the powers that were above them. How Paul has avoided prison so far is anyone’s guess, but Lindbergh struck hard and fast in his devastating anti-war speeches.

On September 11, 1941, Lindbergh gave an address at a Des Moines “America First” rally that he titled, Who Are the War Agitators? It was in that speech that much of the vitriol poured out upon Lindbergh by the neoconservatives finds its source. That is the speech where Lindbergh minces no words about who it was pushing America into the European fray: a confluence of Roosevelt (of course), the British imperialists (he was very right about that), and Jewish Americans. Well what can we say about Lindbergh’s assessment? Wasn’t his speech anti-Semitic? Not at all. In fact, he was not saying anything at all about the Jewish race in general, he was only noticing that the desire among American Jews to send American troops into Germany was irrelevant to the national interests of the American nation, and was in fact a selfish and sentimental impulse. Lindbergh summarized the downright stupidity of pretending that stopping Hitler in Europe would be tantamount to establishing tolerance worldwide:

Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastation.


Ah there’s the rub. The pro-war Jews back then were, and their offspring neocons now are, dyed-in-the-wool liberals. Do liberals really consider tolerance to be a virtue? Of course not. Tolerance is not a liberal virtue, it is a Christian virtue. And when Lindbergh spoke of how war threatens the existence of tolerance, peace, and strength in a nation, he was not speaking as a rootless imperialists; he was speaking as a European Christian who had studied enough history to know of what he spoke.

You may be thinking that Lindbergh’s opposition to our entry into WWII disqualifies him from the White Hall of Fame on the grounds of cowardice. But if his derring-do as a pilot prior to the war is not enough to convince you, then consider the fact that he abruptly left the America First campaign the moment he learned about Pearl Harbor. Unlike the sissy FDR who conveniently avoided any danger from either of the wars that he clamored for as a wealthy sinecure, Lindbergh moved to have his Army commission reinstated for combat in Europe. Conforming perfectly to every other base act of his career, FDR refused to permit Lindbergh back into the American military, evidently feeling that Manifest Destiny was more than enough to guarantee martial success without the Lone Eagle. But Lindbergh was not to be excluded from action forever. By 1942 he had obtained a civilian position through United Aircraft that placed him in the thick of fighting in the Pacific Theater. He eventually flew 50 combat missions, all as a civilian, including one in which he gunned down a Japanese observation plane.

For liberals, Lindbergh is a contemptible figure whose career confuses them. Some leftists are prepared to admire his anti-war stance before Pearl Harbor, but absolutely condemn his participation in military life that on their view contradicts his time with America First. Other leftists, like the National Review crowd, don’t know what to make of his frank remarks about Jewish selfishness, or his very mild compliments toward the German military spirit that he observed under Hitler. So they smear him every chance they get. But for those who see life through the eyes of European civilization, it is obvious that Lindbergh was nothing less than a very late, nearly anachronistic, example of the old knights of White Hall.

1 comment: