FDR signing Lend-Lease Bill "World-Telegram photo by Ed Palumbo" donated to the Library of Congress
Keeping Them Honest
By Richard Girard
"This is no war for domination or imperial aggrandisement or material gain. . . . It is a war . . . to establish, on impregnable rocks, the rights of the individual and it is a war to establish and revive the stature of man."
Sir Winston Churchill Speech, September 3, 1939, to the House of Commons, on that day's declaration of war against Germany by Britain and France.
"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."
Harry S. Truman President. Quoted in: William Hillman, Mr. President, part 2, chapter 1 (1952).
Normally I don't do requests. The last one I did was " Bomb Power: A Review of Garry Wills Newest Book ," for Professor Thomas Farrell of the University of Minnesota-Duluth--who is a frequent contributor here at OpEdNews--in March of 2010. When a full Professor of English Writing challenges you to do something like a book review, you do it. I think I got an A- out of it, (ROTFLMAO). All joking aside Professor Farrell, thank you; you are one of the small number of people I have "fanned," and I look forward to your in-depth review of books in every way but one: your reviews invariably lengthens my already long reading list. If you have not read any of Professor Farrell's articles or reviews, please do yourself a favor and do so.
Previous to that, I received a request from a cousin to do an article on national health care. The result was my October, 2009 article " Like Band Aids for Chest Wounds ." This is the same cousin who earlier this year thanked me profusely for my article " Making Sex a Crime ," saying that I had--purely by accident--done a large portion of her research for an oral presentation in an upper level biology and health class that she was taking. She also wished that everyone on the left and the right would read my article, because it did an excellent job of exploding the myths and misapprehensions about sex work and trafficking in the United States, as well as the rest of the developed world with facts and figures, not guesses and assumptions. (Yes, I do have an ego, and I love when my friends and family stroke it, almost as much as I like it when complete strangers do.)
This time around, the request came from a retired Air Force officer who is now teaching at a small college in Northern Idaho. (I will for the sake of his privacy, not give out either his name or the name of the college.) In July of 2007, this gentleman sent me an e-mail, and asked if he could use my OpEdNews article, " Rights, Powers, Privileges, and Responsibilities ," for his philosophy of ethics class. I of course, very flattered by his request, granted my permission. We have continued our correspondence for the last five years, and he is on the very short list of friends and family members who get a copy of a new article before OpEdNews publishes it. Last month, he sent me an e-mail that stated the following:
"For the past few days, I've been watching Ken Burns' 'The War.' I thought it was amazing and very worthwhile. Have you seen it? With your extraordinary knowledge of American politics and history it would be great to have heard a political as well as cultural commentary of the 1941-1945 years to pace the other story/stories."
An article of this type requires a great deal of research, in order to make sure that not only are my facts are correct, but I can also cite where I got those facts, as well as tie it in to what is going on in our country today. So I can't do this one in ten days or two weeks: I have to wait for interlibrary loans, etc., to do it right. I hope you will find it worth the wait.
I am a great believer in the concept that the past is prelude. To quote then Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, in a speech given at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1965, "Today we know that World War II began not in 1939 or 1941 but in the 1920's and 1930's when those who should have known better persuaded themselves that they were not their brother's keeper." Our political troubles today likewise have similar foundations in our past, laid down by men (and a few women, but mostly men) who could not be convinced that wealth, power and the control of people's private lives was something that should not only be limited, with Constitutional checks and balances in place, but generally rejected if this constitutionally limited, democratically elected, representative republic--or as we shorten its description in modern times, a representative democracy--were to continue to grow and prosper for another century. A tyranny of a minority is worse than that of the majority, because a majority can be convinced to change their minds with cause, and the smaller that minority, the more egregious and unchanging is the tyranny that insinuates then itself in our everyday lives.
President Dwight Eisenhower, in a speech broadcast January 28, 1954, stated that, "Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." As with any profession, knowledge is required if one is to be competent in the performance of one's duties. We must know not only how the system actually works, but the historical forces and actions that led to why the system works the way it does, especially when the system operates in a manner different from, or even contrary to, the way it is supposed to theoretically work. In the case of the United States, many of those inconsistencies can be attributed to the historical time period from the decade prior to the Second World War until its immediate aftermath.
As I looked back on the history of American politics leading up to and during the Second World War, I discovered that many of the forces and tactics that the Republicans and other conservatives arrayed against FDR and his New Deal, are very the same ones that they are being used to oppose Barack Obama today.