From The Secret of Samson's Hair: Hollywood and the Demasculinization of America by Roger W. Gardner
On May 20, 1927, Charles Augustus Lindbergh became the first aviator to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a solo flight. After a harrowing 33.5 hour flight, the tiny single-engine “Spirit of St. Louis” touched ground at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris and the astonished Lindbergh was immediately overwhelmed by an hysterical ecstatic crowd, estimated at over 100,000 people. He had conquered the Atlantic alone and had become an instant celebrity of unprecedented renown. The following day, the President of France presented him with the prestigious Legion of Honor. On his return to the U.S. he was welcomed by President Calvin Coolidge who bestowed upon him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
His subsequent reception in New York City was the wildest in that city’s history. Mayor Jimmy Walker gave him a ticker tape parade, at which an estimated 4 million people lined the parade route just to get a glimpse of him. Shortly thereafter, the Guggenheim Fund sponsored him on a three month nationwide tour. Flying the “Spirit of St. Louis”, he touched down in 48 states, visited 92 cities, and gave 147 speeches promoting aviation. He followed this with a goodwill tour of Latin America where he met his future bride, the daughter of the American Ambassador, writer Anne Spencer Morrow. On March 21, 1929, President Coolidge presented him with the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In an incredibly short period of time, Charles Lindbergh had achieved a remarkable level of international adulation. He represented to the world a shining ray of hope and promise in an otherwise rather dismal decade. Standing on a pinnacle of fame, which in today’s world would rank him somewhere perhaps between a movie star and an Astronaut, with his all-American good looks, his boyish smile, and his (deceptive) air of modesty, Charles Lindbergh seemed the epitome of the perfect American Hero.
Wealthy, world-famous, respected and admired, “Lucky Lindy”, as he had now come to be known, eventually settled into his spacious New Jersey estate with his lovely new wife to begin what promised to be an idyllic life. On June 22, 1930, their son, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. was born and instantly became the most famous baby in the world. They had become the true First Family of America and an adoring public followed their every move. For the Lindbergh family the future appeared filled with unbounded hope and promise -- until March 1, 1932, when baby Charles was reported missing from his crib.
Needless to say, the “Lindbergh Kidnapping Case” quickly became the most notorious kidnapping case in history. Hundreds of international reporters descended on the small New Jersey town to feed the voracious appetite of an obsessed worldwide public, covering every nuance of the investigation, trial, and the subsequent sentencing and 1936 execution of the convicted perpetrator, the somber German-American Bruno Richard Hauptmann. There is no need here to reiterate the convoluted facts and innumerable controversies surrounding this historic case, except perhaps to take note that, in some sense, the case still remains open. Articles about the Lindbergh Kidnapping Case are still being printed, websites are still being opened, and books are still being written espousing endless theories and conjectures about the guilt or innocence of Hauptman -- some even implicating Lindbergh, himself, in the infamous affair.
What is, however, relevant to our purposes is that after the kidnapping and during the highly-publicized investigation that followed, much to his adoring public’s surprise, a darker side to Lucky Lindy’s personality began to emerge. Arrogant, authoritative, domineering, he began almost immediately to take over complete control of the investigation, issuing orders to the local and State Police, controlling the news conferences, even interfering with the Federal Agents assigned to the case.
This was the first chink to appear in Charles Lindbergh’s shining armor. The second would prove to be immensely more important and involve more than just the particular idiosyncrasies of his unique personality: his well-publicized, anti-war, pro-Fascist and -- though he would later try to deny it -- overtly anti-Semitic speeches, coupled with his high-profile involvement with the America First Committee.
The America First Committee was established in September of 1940 by Yale law student R. Douglas Stuart, Jr., along with several other students, including future President Gerald Ford. Supported by a group of prominent businessmen and a few well-known Senators such as Burton K. Wheeler and Gerald P. Nye, and some famous literary figures like the novelist Sinclair Lewis, poet E. E. Cummings and author Gore Vidal, the 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 thoroughly distrusted Roosevelt, arguing that he was lying to the American Public”. They vehemently opposed Roosevelt’s lend-lease bill, “the convoying of ships, the Atlantic Charter,* and the placing of economic pressure on Japan”.Their platform rested on four basic principles: “The United States must build an impregnable defense of America. No foreign power, or group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America. American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European war. [And, finally,] ‘Aid short of war’ [helping England to survive] weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad”.
Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most Americans wanted to stay out of a “European war“, and the AFC skillfully tapped into these feelings.
Throughout 1940-41, Charles Lindbergh became the AFC’s chief spokesman. However, long before the formation of the AFC, Lindbergh had begun to publicly question our foreign policy and the motives of the Roosevelt administration. After the “media circus” of the kidnapping trial, Lindbergh and his wife moved to England to escape the constant scrutiny of the press. He soon became enamored of Nazi Germany, showing great admiration for Hitler’s policies and enormous respect for the German Luftwaffe -- touting its superiority over any air force in the world. After several visits he even discussed plans to move there permanently.
In England he became active in the isolationist movement, urging neutrality and appeasement of Hitler, helping to pave the way for the infamous Munich Pact. . Obviously, these efforts were greatly appreciated by the Germans. On his third visit to Nazi Germany, in October 1938, Lindbergh was presented with the Service Cross of the German Eagle by Hermann Goering. In a radio speech broadcast in September, 1939, just two weeks after England had declared war on Germany, he urged his listeners to “look beyond the speeches and propaganda they were being fed and instead look at who was writing the speeches and reports, who owned the papers and who influenced the speakers” [emphasis added] -- meaning of course the Jews.
Gradually, the public began to turn against him. Then, in a speech delivered to a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 11, 1941, he finally went too far, and was greeted with a chorus of catcalls and boos. Lindbergh accused the Jews of trying to entangle the United States in their self-serving pro-war policies and -- echoing almost verbatim a speech given by Hitler in the German Reichstag on September 1, 1939 -- warned them, ominously, that “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”
After the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, the AFC quietly dissolved. Although Lindbergh attempted to join the service, Roosevelt refused to reinstate his commission in the Air Force Reserves. None of the major airplane manufacturers was willing to give him a job. Eventually, he managed to find a position with his old friend, and fellow anti-Semite, Henry Ford, streamlining his B-24 factory in Michigan. Rejected by the public who had previously adored him, marginalized by the momentous events that overtook him and his discredited ideas, “Lucky Lindy” quickly faded from the scene. Almost.
After World War II he lived quietly in Connecticut where he served as a consultant to both the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force and to Pan American Airways. In 1953, he wrote his book Spirit of St. Louis, recounting his historic flight, which won the Pulitzer prize in 1954. That same year his tarnished reputation was somewhat repaired when President Dwight D. Eisenhower restored his assignment with the Army Air Corps and made him a Brigadier General. In 1957, director Billy Wilder made his book Spirit of St. Louis into a successful Hollywood movie, starring real-life Air Force pilot Jimmy Stewart. In the 1960s, he became a spokesman for the conservation of the natural world, speaking in favor of the protection of whales. Evidently, he remained unrepentant to the end -- after touring the Belsen concentration camp immediately after the war, in June 1945, his only comment -- a truly breathtaking example of moral equivalency -- was that “What the Germans had done to the Jew in Europe, we are doing to the Jap in the Pacific.” He later asserted that the Postwar Communist takeover of Eastern Europe proved that his views were right. He died, a fallen idol, virtually unnoticed in August 1974.
Treacherous Patriots ll: Henry Ford
A note from Radarsite. Treacherous patriots. As we have seen in the previous Radarsite article Fallen Eagle, the line between patriotism and treason is not always easily defined. Some of America's greatest sons and daughters have gone from internationally respected, indeed, almost mythical figures to discredited celebrities. Two of these monumental figures were contemporaries who knew one another and actually became close personal friends. We have been introduced to one of them, Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindberg. His friend and comrade, Henry Ford, was a whole other kettle of fish. -rg
The son of Irish immigrants, William and Mary Ford, who had settled on a farm in what is now Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company and the “father of the modern assembly line used in mass production” was born on July 30, 1863. He quickly discovered that farm work, and the education provided by the local one-room schoolhouse was not for him. When his beloved mother died in 1876 he was devastated. Although his father expected him to eventually take over the farm, young Henry had other ideas. With his mother gone, little remained to keep him on the farm. He later said, “I never had any particular love for the farm. It was the mother on the farm I loved”. He left home in 1879 and walked to the nearby city of Detroit, where he found work as an apprentice machinist. A couple of years later, he was hired by Westinghouse to service their steam engines. In 1891, Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company, and after his promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893, he had enough time and money to devote attention to his experiments on gasoline engines. These experiments culminated in 1896 with the completion of his own self-propelled vehicle, which he named the Quadricycle. After this initial success, Ford organized a group of investors and formed the Detroit Automobile Company. Although this company soon went bankrupt, Ford never gave up the pursuit of his vision and seven years later, in 1903, at the age of 40, together with 11 other investors (whom he eventually bought out) he formed the Ford Motor Company. In October of 1908, he introduced the Model T which quickly became an enormous success, and helped to change the culture of America.
An intriguing mixture of “global vision” and small-town narrow-mindedness, Ford was undoubtedly a natural engineering genius and a shrewd, far-sighted businessman. He was also an unapologetic racist and bigot, who was increasingly becoming a crackpot conspiracy-theorist -- he stated publicly that the sinking of the Lusitania* was a hoax perpetrated by a cartel of international bankers (obviously, referring to the Jews) in order to bring the United States into the First World War.
Although an ardent pacifist in World War I, his moral scruples did not interfere with his ability to make huge profits from both wars, by turning his company into a major producer of war materials in both World War I and World War II. Ford astonished the business world in 1914 by offering a $5 a day wage that more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. The controversial move, which he referred to as the ‘wage motive’, proved hugely profitable, reducing the constant turnover of employees and, by bringing in the best mechanics and workers, greatly improving productivity. Ford’s philosophy was one of “economic independence for the United States”. He pushed for the global expansion of his company, believing that international trade and cooperation led to international peace -- a belief shared by President Herbert Hoover and the Commerce Department.
In 1911, he opened his first plants in Canada and Britain. In 1912, he cooperated with Fiat to launch the first Italian automotive assembly plants. The first plants in Germany were built in the 1920s, followed by the opening of plants in Australia, India, and France. By 1929, he had successful dealerships on six continents. His innovative business concepts and practices, which had come to be known as ‘Fordism’, were associated with successful American capitalism and were greatly admired throughout Europe, especially in Germany -- where, as we shall see, his social views would also gain enthusiastic support.
In today’s jargon, Henry Ford would be described as a ‘control freak’ -- just one personality trait among many (arrogance, stubbornness, authoritarianism, pro-Fascist and anti-Semitic beliefs), that he shared with his contemporary and good friend, Charles Lindberg. He was a pioneer of “welfare capitalism” designed to improve the lot of his workers and thereby reduce turnover. However, in order to receive these benefits, employees had to meet certain strict requirements. To this end, Ford ran his company with an iron fist, attempting to control almost every aspect of his worker’s lives, insisting that they live up to his (somewhat rigid and provincial) standards of personal conduct. He frowned on heavy drinking and gambling. To insure that his employees maintained this high level of morality, he created the “Sociological Department”, which employed 150 investigators and support staff to keep an eye on the behavior of his workers. Adamantly anti-union, he promoted Harry Bennett, a former Navy boxer to head the newly-formed (and innocuously named) Service Department, whose primary mission was to quash union organizing -- by any means deemed necessary.
Despite his paternalistic authoritarianism, Ford had no difficulty in finding, and keeping, first-rate workers; and the Ford Motor Company continued to grow and prosper. However, it was not his company policies that thrust him into the center of worldwide controversy, nor his often violent union-busting tactics, nor his heavy-handed Puritanism -- it was, rather, his vicious, relentless, and increasingly outspoken rabid brand of anti-Semitism. In 1918, Ford’s closest aide and private secretary, the anti-Semite Ernest Liebold, purchased an obscure weekly newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, so that Ford could spread his views. The Independent ran for eight years, from 1920 until 1927 (when a lawsuit brought by San Francisco lawyer and Jewish farm cooperative organizer Aaron Sapiro forced Ford to close the paper). The newspaper published the complete (previously discussed) “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, along with innumerable anti-Semitic articles, which in the 1920s were bound together into a set of four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem. They were widely distributed and had great influence, especially in Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler, himself, read and admired them, and hung Ford’s photograph on his wall. Of Ford, he wrote, glowingly, in Mein Kampf, “Every year makes them [the Jews] more and more the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions; only a single great man, Ford, to their fury, still maintains full independence”.
In 1938, the German consul at Cleveland gave Ford the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. Although, forced to publically recant his views in response to a Jewish and liberal Christian boycott of Ford products in 1927, he never ceased disseminating his vitriolic anti-Semitic rants. In 1940, Ford told The Manchester Guardian that “international Jewish bankers” were responsible for World War II.
In 1936, Ford created the Ford Foundation, whose broad mandate was to promote human welfare. By clever manipulation of his company’s stock, he assured that control of the Ford Motor Company would remain forever in the hands of the Ford family. As senility set in, Henry Ford was gradually eased out of the presidency of the company, and eventually, in 1945, he ceded control of the company to his grandson Henry Ford II. He died in April, 1947 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 83 in his Dearborn Estate, and is buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.
According to his biographer Robert Lacey, “no American contributed as much to the evils of Nazism as Henry Ford”. Regardless of public opinion, Henry Ford, like his famous compatriot Charles Lindberg, remained an unapologetic life-long anti-Semite. However, the rural communities from which he came, and with which he had so proudly associated himself throughout his lifetime, still largely admired and believed in him. In the Independent he had championed the ‘common people’ who lived in the small towns or in the country, and who made up two-thirds of his readership. They were, he claimed, the “true Americans” -- “When we stand up and sing ‘My country, ‘tis of thee’”, an early article in the Independent noted, “We seldom think of the city”.
These two men, these two colossal icons of their time, so different from one another, yet so much alike that they became lifelong friends and shared a sincere affection for each other, embodied all that was great and all that was not so great of the American character. Bold, independent, courageous and innovative, they were the very epitome of the creative American spirit. Unfortunately, they also shared those petty, unattractive flaws of small town provincialism: an insular, unquestioned self-righteousness coupled with an inherent distrust of strangers, which has traditionally made the ‘common people’ -- not just in America, but all over the world -- uniquely vulnerable to the siren songs of innumerable religious cultists and political demagogues.
A note from Radarsite: In our free and open society that crucial line between dissent and treason has always been controversial and difficult to clearly delineate. It has been constantly challenged and redefined. Above all else, we Americans value our liberty, and of all the liberties we cherish, none is more precious to us than our Freedom of Speech. We will passionately defend our Constitutionally guaranteed right of Freedom of Speech against all threats.
However, during a time of war these issues become increasingly more complicated. Often we have found it not only necessary, but absolutely imperative to temporarily abrogate some of our freedoms for the sake of our national security.
If exercising our Freedom of Speech actually puts our nation in greater peril, if exercising our Freedom of Speech actually benefits our enemies, then we must redefine the lines. At what point, we must ask ourselves, does legitimate protest against American involvement in foreign affairs become an act of aiding and abetting the enemy? At what point does anti-American rhetoric become seditious? And, perhaps most importantly, we must always be certain to understand the underlying motives of our dissenters, or their leaders. Are they honestly concerned for America's future? Or are they driven by some deeper, more malign interest? And, what is even more problematic, are they, despite their good intentions, merely being used as pawns by our enemies, merely playing the role of "useful idiots"?
Perhaps the most important and revealing information on this subject was the 1995 release of the shocking Venona transcripts. Finally, in their own words, we learned that everything we had been told about the Soviet Union's so-called "Domino Theory" was absolutely correct. And Korea and Vietnam were considered by the Soviets to be essential and strategic dominoes in their goal of ultimate world hegemony. Anything they could do to discredit and diminish our involvement in Vietnam helped to achieve this overall strategic purpose. Here once again, they found willing accomplices in the passionately pacifistic but woefully naive American left.
"The leadership of the anti-war movement was hijacked very early by hard-line communists whose motivation was not a desire for peace, but hatred of America." Venona transcripts
Now, once again we find ourselves in the midst of an unpopular and controversial war. And once again, our precious freedoms are being challenged.
Once again Americans have taken to the streets to protest our involvement in foreign affairs. And once again we are having to redefine that crucial but illusive line between dissent and treason.
Once again, the violent pacifists are on the march.
Where are we to draw the line this time? How do we know when that line has been crossed? When does the exercise of free speech become overt sedition?
In short, how are we to define treason?
There have been many Charles Lindberghs since the days of the German-American Bund and the America First Committee.
It is past time for us to look closely at our present circumstances. To redefine our perimeters of patriotism and dissent. It is not patriotic to be blind to our enemies. It is not patriotic to seek to undermine the moral foundations of this great nation of ours while she is in mortal peril. As difficult as it may be, we must somehow find the courage to face down the dissenters and redefine the lines.
But then again, perhaps it won't be as difficult as it seems. Perhaps it's just a matter of willpower and common sense. Perhaps as a Supreme Court justice once said of pornography, I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. - rg