Saturday, February 04, 2017

America First...WW2 vs Today...A reality check...

The America First "meme" developed by the Trump campaign has been compared to the WW2 iteration and is lambasted because the early committee supposedly ignored the plight of the Jewish people and denied entry of many during the time leading up to the Holocaust.  This is a quick (and I mean quick) down and dirty. You can verify easily enough what I'll say with a quick Google search. First what did the America First WW2 committee stand for? via Wikipedia...

When the war began in September 1939, most Americans, including politicians, demanded neutrality regarding Europe.[9] Although most Americans supported strong measures against Japan, Europe was the focus of the America First Committee. The public mood was changing, however, especially after the fall of France in spring 1940.[10]

The America First Committee launched a petition aimed at enforcing the 1939 Neutrality Act and forcing President Franklin D. Roosevelt to keep his pledge to keep America out of the war. They profoundly distrusted Roosevelt and argued that he was lying to the American people.

On the day after Roosevelt's lend-lease bill was submitted to the United States Congress, Wood promised AFC opposition "with all the vigor it can exert." America First staunchly opposed the convoying of ships, the Atlantic Charter, and the placing of economic pressure on Japan. In order to achieve the defeat of lend-lease and the perpetuation of American neutrality, the AFC advocated four basic principles:
*The United States must build an impregnable defense for America.

*No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America.

*American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European war.
*"Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad.
So with this being the case and with public attitudes changing rapidly after war arrived in Europe, how did the meme that America First WW2 was anti-semitic?

A check of the main figures involved reveals much.  These are the names of people in the organization that I recognized...Charles Lindbergh, Walt Disney, Sargent Shriver,  Frank Lloyd Wright and Lillian Gish.

I immediately focused on Lindbergh.  He was a known White Supremacists and known Nazi sympathizer.  Note that his history is bit mixed though.  While being a bigger star in Nazi Germany than he was in the US, he also pushed the Army General Staff to build up its air power after he saw (he was invited to observe) the Luftwaffe and the tremendous advances they were making.

To round out the case on Lindbergh, he was also known to be anti-semitic.

The other figures while famous don't appear to be the source of much controversy.  Disney was said to be racist but that has been disputed and his views expressed in his cartoons are said to be racially insensitive.  Apologists for Disney would say that he simply expressed the views of the times and that on a personal level with black employees he was fair and even handed.  I won't debate that, his reputation remains mixed in my opinion.  Shriver?  Just another famous dude who comes from a long line of money.  Frank Wright?  Famous building designer, historically important but no famous writings.  Gish, a famous actress of the times...again no famous writings.

So the basis for the accusation that America First WW2 was anti-semitic was based entirely (in my opinion) on the membership of Charles Lindbergh being part of the movement.

Is that fair?  I don't know.  I didn't live during the time but I can look at the rationale of the group and just by looking at the goals as they were written I can't argue with the thinking.

We're almost a century removed but it must be remembered that the US had involved itself in WW1 and saw many of its sons killed in that effort and now just a short time later the winds of war were blowing on that continent again?

I imagine the US population felt about Europe the way that I feel about the Middle East.  It's just not worth the effort if they're gonna be engaged in perpetual warfare.

The reality?

America First 2016/17 has little in common with America First circa 1940/41.  

Side note:  To cloud the issue even more are some of the popular movements that happened during this time.  One of those was the Eugenics movement and Lindbergh, the founder of Planned Parenthood and other wealthy Americans were a part of it.  That movement probably had more to do with the immigration policy at the time and the turning away of Jews fleeing Germany had more to do with the influence of that movement than America First.

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