Many Americans with a remembrance of our nation's history throughout this violent century have recollections of the America First movement, active from the late 1930s through to the attack on Pearl Harbor. This group of redoubtable patriots and honest-to-god heroes fought the good fight, in the face of long odds and vicious smears, against US intervention in the European conflagration that would become World War II.
It is admitted that the Americ First Committee spoke for the great majority of Americans, who did not want another war. The movement itself was composed of three general types of people. The largest contingent were Americans who supported the traditional policy of the US neutrality in foreign conflicts. The second category were the pacifists who opposed war in general. The Quakers were the leading religious opposition to intervention. Finally, there were those who were variously anti-British or pro-German.
Today, almost all of these patriots who opposed the war are gone and few are widely remembered, though those most prominent in the movement are still vicously smeared as "fascists" and "Nazi sympathizers," a ridiculous, unsupported claim to which we put the lie in this issue.
We can think of no better to set the record straight, or to celebrate TBR's 24th month of publication - and fulfill our mission of bringing history into accord with the facts - than to salute a distinguished representative group of these courageous individuals. They were, from the famous to the foot soldiers, dedicated clarions of American liberty who stood firmly against alien pressure to get ensnared in the greatest tragedy of this century.
These speeches and papers we've dug up for this issue, by Lindbergh, Igor Sigorski and Gerald P. Nye, are rare and next to impossible to come by these days, In them, you will read, in their own words, the reasons they give for staying out of the war. And you will see that they promoted their cause so vigorously not because they approved of National Socialism or fascism, but rather because they loved America, its form of government and its people, and wanted more than anything to preserve it.
Roosevelt sneeringly referred to pioneering aviator and certified American hero Charles A. Lindbergh as a "copperhead" in this regard. "Copperhead" was the term applied by fevered abolitionists and self-interested warmongers to northerners who had the courage to speak out against the events that were inevitably leading to the unnecessary horrors of the Civil War. Unwittingly, a man of unbounded evil complimented a man of honor and true greatness.
The average American continued his private struggles before the war began overseas and prior to the time the US entered the conflict. But while these many millions of patriotic folk were absorbed in their daily routines, others were making plans for them - lethal plans. From the centers of Zionist influence, the New Deal political operations, the profit-grubbing Blue Chip boardrooms and the elite, genteel bastions of wealthy East Coast Anglophiles, another agenda was being pursued with tireless determination. As with the abolitionist zealots and war profiteers of 1861-1865, of least concern was the enormous blood sacrifice that would be demanded of our nation.
During that crucial period, John T. Flynn was one of the nation's few journalists who combined wisdom and courage in the face of an insidious smear campaign. Writing in 1939, he reminded America that New Deal spending schemes had not ended the depression but had in fact placed us ever deeper in debt. Flynn referred to the "disease" of statist economic manipulation that "has attacked the body of the European societies but which has also attacked the body of our society. . ."
Flynn continued: "Let us remember that one of the most important social functions is the economic function - the production and distribution of the necessities of life, and it is that function which is being broken down inside our society here in America. The way to meet our problem (and to curb runaway government and its spending) is to treat that disease here and not run to fires in Europe. . ."
When President Roosevelt dispatched US troops to occupy Iceland in July, 1941, to relieve British troops for duty elsewhere, Sen. Robert A. Taft, who became known as Mr. Integrity as well as Mr. Republican, stated: "There is no ease in American history which compares to the landing of troops in Iceland. It is not defense of America or American property. It is beyond the power of the president and without authority from Congress. The real purpose of seizing Iceland is not the defense of the United States but defense of ships going from North America to Great Britain."
Evidently with an eye on Geneva Convention articles covering acts of war and signed by the United States, Sen. Taft observed: "If, when two nations are engaged in war, the president sends troops into one of those nations, or territory occupied by it, in order to defend that nation, it is exactly similar to a direct intervention in that war."
On the question of appeasement, Sen. Taft stated: "The real appeasers are those willing to condone one warlike action by the president in the hope that he will not take another."
The highly respected military affairs writer Hanson Baldwin wrote: "If a minority - vocal and vigorous and strident leads the majority to a war it does not want, the minority and the nation will live to regret it.
In this Mr. Baldwin may have been prophetic. Today, few of perception, who love America, fail to see the disasters borne of US entry into the war, just as their parents and grandparents cringed in disgust and even shame regarding the consequences of our 1917 entrance into "The War To End All Wars." But since "victory" in World War II, the pre-Pearl Harbor minority whose manipulations brought us into that mess has ridden most comfortably, courtesy of the milliosn of crosses that mark the end of the young lives of so many of our boys and men in foreign graveyards.
One particularly frightening dimension in America's "pre-war" period was the reemergence of Woodrow Wilson's presumtuous and pathetic worldwide "democracy" schemes. This global racket has of course proven to be the mother's milk of international pirates from the United Nations building to the boardrooms of international corporations and banks; milking our republic of "the common man's" jobs, tax money, and sovereign constitutional rights.
One of the courageous clerics who stood up to Rooseveltian power, in a state sodden with New Deal toadies and hypocritical "Wilkie Republicans," was William Cardinal O'Connell of Boston. Cardinal O'Connell stated: "if we are going out to try to impose our method of life on the whole world, it is not only nonsensical and impossible, but it is utterly wrong; it is tyranny."
Hitting the 'war sneaks," where it would no doubt hurt any person of true conscience, Rep. Daniel Reed of New York asked: "Is the American youth to be led to slaughter by the paid propaganda of those who see in such a course a path to greater personal and political power?'
The selfless (selflessness being an essential element of patriotism) struggle of those we herein honor by name, and the many of equal valor who must go unmentioned, failed. It was, however, a lost cause that will shine forever in the annals of man's unending populist battle against the tyrannies of powerful and selfish establishments indifferent to the commoners and peasants who fight and die in their wars and labor and sweat on their behalf.
Yes, the good guys lost. And largely due to that, the world is a far more dangerous, chaotic and bloody place than it need have been. But we at the Barnes Review stand fast in the tradition of the American Firsters, to carry on the good fight for getting history right and setting the record straight. We're proud that during our two years of publication, we've revived a spirit of patriotism and a vein of scholarship that many had thought lost forever. And with your help, and that of like-minded converts to the cause, we'll be here 20 years from now, declaring victory.