German troops in Warsaw, Poland September 1939
Having returned to America in April 1939, Lindbergh turned his attention toward keeping his country out of a war in Europe. At the time, most Americans shared his isolationist views. Germany invaded Poland five months later, drawing Britain and France into the war. Two weeks later, Lindbergh delivered his first nationwide radio address in which he urged America to remain neutral. In the speech he criticized President Roosevelt, who believed the Nazis must be stopped in their conquest of Europe. Lindbergh saw Nazi victory as certain and thought America's attention should be placed elsewhere. "These wars in Europe are not wars in which our civilization is defending itself against some Asiatic intruder... This is not a question of banding together to defend the white race against foreign invasion." Building on his belief that "racial strength is vital," Lindbergh published an article in Reader's Digest stating, "That our civilization depends on a Western wall of race and arms which can hold back... the infiltration of inferior blood."
It has been said that George Bush has failed to communicate to the nation the reality of the war we face with militant Islam. It is also said that he failed to make the case for the war in Iraq despite all the years of conflict and broken agreements and threats that preceded the present conflict.
But do people ever see? I can think of no two men who were more gifted communicators than Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, but in 1939 the world was going to the movies to see Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.
The only war they wanted to hear about was the highly romanticized one starring Clark Gable. How could intelligent men like Charles Lindberg be fooled by Adolf Hitler and yet unconvinced by Roosevelt? Lindberg said the only people that wanted us in that war were the British and the Jews. The America Firsters lost their influence after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war. The Axis had struck and war was upon the United States. How many millions might have been saved if the United States had acted in 1939 when the Japanese were in the early stages of their conquest of Asia and Hitler had not yet invaded Poland? We will never know. But it begs the question: How could they not see that in a few short years much of their world would lie in ruins and nothing would ever be the same again?
A life spent in an American education
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