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The War on the Home Front

Wednesday, 14 December 2005 12:00 AM

One of the few advantages of getting old is that it allows those with long memories the opportunity to compare and, as they say, contrast current events with those of previous times. Observers with an eye for history will notice a striking similarity between the isolationist movement antecedent to World War II and the current anti-war stance of leading Democrat politicians and other publicity hounds today.

Even with the rise of fascism in Europe and militarism in Japan during the 1930s, a large part of the American public remained indifferent. And when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, opinion in the United States was still overwhelmingly in favor of staying out of the war.

Among many different isolationist groups at the time, the America First Committee, created in 1940, stands out, for it not only resisted America's entry into the war, but also opposed giving aid to Britain. It fought tooth and nail against Roosevelt's Lend-Lease proposal to Congress, but ultimately lost.

The America Firsters were a congeries of anti-Communist German sympathizers, anti-elite Midwestern populists who hated East Coast industrialists and banking interests, Republican businessmen who resented Roosevelt's New Deal, pacifists, anti-Semites and other partisan politicos.

The fall of France and the London blitz began to rally public opinion to a wartime footing, even as the AFC became more strident in its anti-war rhetoric.

In an April 1941 magazine article, for example, AFC member and educator Robert Maynard Hutchins simply declared, "the American people are about to commit suicide."

The most extreme and shameful language came from Charles Lindbergh, the aviator turned AFC spokesman, who ultimately besmirched both the organization and his own legacy. Lindbergh was pro-German, and attracted the bigots and racists associated with Nazism. Given his notoriety, Lindbergh had an audience of millions, and actually made speeches blaming the war on England and France. By the summer of 1941 he was denouncing the president as a greater threat to peace than Hitler.

The Pearl Harbor sneak attack and subsequent declarations of war finally galvanized public opinion, and Colonel Lindbergh and the AFC were pilloried in the press, with the result being that public opinion turned against the group.

This was an era when Americans pulled together as never before to help win the Second World War. Every facet of the popular culture and every celebrity focused on the war effort: While movie stars touted the purchase of War Bonds, and movie theaters played war-themed films and cartoons, ordinary Americans organized civic parades and sponsored drives for collecting household items like fats, junk, rubber, scrap metal, paper, silk and nylons for use in war materiel production.

During the war years, sacrifices were widespread on the home front as local and federal rationing of key items was imposed. Gasoline purchase and travel was restricted, and meat, butter, sugar and other foodstuffs were hard to get.

Yet in spite of personal hardships, and heavy initial losses on the battlefield and sea, Americans were united in the rightness of a just war as never before, or since, and they had overwhelming respect for Commander in Chief Roosevelt.

The spirit of the 1940s must seem remote and unfamiliar to the current crop of anti-war voices. Even though Saddam Hussein was arguably a greater and much more uncivilized demon than Hitler ever was, and international Islamo-fascists have killed Americans around the world and on our own soil, far leftists in this country today see their only mission as bringing down George W. Bush by any means necessary.

This mission has been adopted by the present sour leadership of the Democratic Party – by Dean, Pelosi, Biden, Kennedy, Reid and others – and has been abetted by a stridently partisan and irresponsible media establishment that has trumpeted every imagined Bush administration failure to which it heaps scorn.

Whatever noble or patriotic instincts of political opponents that might have surfaced at the beginning of the Iraq campaign long ago dissolved into disgustingly petty partisan invectives – many of them flagrantly specious – that now weaken Americans' resolve and undermine our troops in a difficult war zone.

The list is long: the "Bush lied" brigade; the bumper sticker "war for oil" and "illegal war" shibboleths; the Abu Ghraib circus; the Valerie Plame witch hunt; the 9/11 Commission; the "60 Minutes" forged documents; the Gitmo detainee brouhaha; the John Murtha tantrum; CodePink and other ditzy anti-war groups; the "culture of corruption" crowd; the "exit strategy" red herring; and many others.

It is almost inconceivable that constant and organized attacks like this on our country's leadership in time of war could have resulted in Allied victory back in 1945. It is despicable that the bulk of the Democratic Party, its affiliated leftist groups and its amen chorus in the mainstream media have chosen to divide the country, using all the vitriol they can muster, and for the basest of reasons: to regain lost political power.

It's all too apparent they believe that this is the only thing worth fighting for.

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One of the few advantages of getting old is that it allows those with long memories the opportunity to compare and, as they say, contrast current events with those of previous times.Observers with an eye for history will notice a striking similarity between the isolationist...
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Wednesday, 14 December 2005 12:00 AM
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