america first committee

On 11 Sept. 1941, Charles Lindbergh gave a speech in Des Moines, IA to urge continued US neutrality in World War II. Lindbergh had become involved in the “America First Committee” in late 1940 and argued that the US had should not attack Germany.

In his speech in Des Moines, Lindbergh stated that there were three groups, “pressing this country toward war”: “The British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration,” and while Lindbergh expressed “admiration” for the Jewish people and condemned their persecution, he warned of their “large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.” This remark, a brief mention in a long speech with the primary focus of keeping America out of the war (“We are on the verge of a war for which we are still unprepared, and for which no one has offered a feasible plan for victory–a war which cannot be won without sending our soldiers across the ocean to force a landing on a hostile coast against armies stronger than our own”), was quickly condemned as anti-Semitic.

Lindbergh, in fact, had a close relationship with Germany, had visited there in the late 1930s, had accepted a medal from Herman Goering in 1939, and had intended to move there the same year (he also fathered children with 2 different German women), but was also critical of Germany’s “unreasonable” reaction to the Jewish population.

Lindbergh was a believer in eugenics, and spoke and wrote frequently about protecting the “purity” of American blood, which he wanted to protect from “dilution by foreign races." 

Biographers have tried to depict Lindbergh as not so much pro-Nazi, but as a "bigoted and misguided, Nazi sympathizer.”

It’s very disturbing to me how many people are unaware of the origin of Trump’s slogan “America First”....

The America First Committee was an anti-interventionist group opposed to US involvement in WW2.  It’s spokesperson was avid Hitler-fanboy Charles Lindbergh.

Let Doctor Seuss be your guide to the true meaning of “America First”, which I promise you, Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon (proud “Populist Nationalist”, which lingustically has the exact same implications that “National Socialist did in the 1920s/30s) is 100% aware of:

(note, I need to acknowledge before we talk about Geisel’s political cartoons, that he has some that are very unfortunate in terms of hysteria against ethnic Japanese people.  Geisel to his credit later apologized for this, and Horton Hears a Who was intended as a parable about post-war Japan and the personhood of the Japanese, dedicated to the Dean of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Mitsugi Nakamura - that said, it would be disingenous of me to show other cartoons of his about the era without acknowledging his moral fallibility)

This one (above) may raise some questions.  Between August 23rd 1939, and June 22nd 1941, the Third Reich and the USSR had a nonaggression treaty (despite anti-Communist politics, and scapegoating Jews as Communist conspirators, having underlay Hitler’s ascent to power).  During that time-window, before Hitler broke the treaty by attacking Soviet positions in Eastern Poland (Operation Barbarossa), the American Communist Party opposed intervention in WW2 along with the Hitler-loving Far Right.  Hence the smallest Kangaroo in the group.

Note that the American Communist Party had major defections by far-leftist Jewish members (already largely Trotsky-sympathetic group who weren’t fans of Stalin) over this.

^*looks at Trumpite anti-refugee politics*

Lynne Olson tells Terry Gross why many students opposed U.S. intervention in World War II:

[T]hese kids were basically saying, ‘Hell no, we don’t want to go to war. This is something we absolutely do not want to do.’ And this major isolationist organization, … America First, was founded by a bunch of Yale students — Yale law students and Yale undergraduates — and among them were young men who went on to have incredibly illustrious careers. … Gerald Ford was a Yale law student and he was one of the founders of America First. Potter Stewart, who later went on the Supreme Court, was also a founder. Sargent Shriver, the first head of the Peace Corps, was a founder, as was Kingman Brewster, who later became president of Yale and, quite ironically, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. Among the students who supported America First were John F. Kennedy, who was a Harvard senior, and Kurt Vonnegut and a young prep school student named Gore Vidal.

Image via S-USIH

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Since it’s Charles Lindbergh’s 110th birthday today, I thought I’d dust off a Woody Guthrie classic….