Posts Tagged ‘Isolationism’

The Dark Beneath Part II

March 30, 2020

The Dark Beneath: Lindbergh and Ford

Note from me:  I had intended to finish this up quickly but I made the mistake of doing more research.  This, as always, muddied the waters of my conclusions.  Actually, I have more questions than conclusions.  Input would be helpful.

Henry_ford_1919.jpg

In this post, I’m concentrating on two American icons, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh.  Both were looked up to as examples of Yankee initiative and success.  Both held deep beliefs concerning ‘racial purity’.  I’ve been reading a lot about the conflict many people feel when they discover that their heroes did things or had attitudes that are personally repugnant to them.  Thomas Jefferson is a classic example of this.  But Jefferson didn’t encourage others to buy slaves.

                Henry Ford was among the richest industrialists in the United States.  He made cars that most people could afford.  When he was losing employees due to the mind-numbing boredom of the assembly line, he raised the pay to five dollars a day.  He hired immigrant workers, paying for them to learn English and take citizenship classes. He rewarded those who became citizens, honouring them at ceremonies.  He’s held up as an example of a capitalist who cared for his people.

                Unlike most other employers, “Henry Ford’s promise of a Five Dollar Day was not tainted with discrimination; blacks were paid a wage equal to that of whites. During the late teens, “the name Ford became synonymous with northern opportunity,” recalled LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), inspiring hundreds of black southerners to travel North with their sights set on a job at the Ford Motor Company (fmc).¹

In many ways, he helped more Americans move into the middle class than any other industrialist while becoming incredibly wealthy. 

He was also a virulent anti-Semite.   It’s not clear where he developed this belief.  He was a farm boy who had likely never met a Jew until he was an adult.  But, by the time he was in his twenties, he had formed the firm idea that Jews were an inferior ‘race’ who happened to have a talent for making money.  From this he concluded that all negative events were somehow caused by a cabal of Jews.  He suspected Jews of causing World War I, a belief heartily endorsed in Germany by Adolph Hitler.  Ford also thought Jews were responsible for Jazz and short skirts, not really well explained in his work.

Hitler found out about Ford’s belief through the ­Dearborn Independent,  a newspaper that he bought in 1919.  From 1920, the paper ran a column on the front page called ‘The International Jew’. Ford’s major complaint was that the Jews had “no interest in manufacturing” but only in finance.  And Jews have become so adept at finance that they control the economics of the world. “There is apparently in the world today a central financial force which is playing a vast and closely organized game, with the world for its table and universal control for its stakes.*  Ford was certain that Jews also controlled the press, something that has been repeated by modern demagogues.   Hitler must have rejoiced when reading, “The Jew in Germany is regarded as only a guest of the people; he has offended by trying to turn himself into the host. There are no stronger contrasts in the world than the pure Germanic and pure Semitic races;…”   This may have encouraged the Fuehrer to believe that America would never fight to save Europe from fascism.

Ford’s influence extended far beyond Dearborn MI.  He insisted that all his dealers take out subscriptions and give them free to anyone who bought a model T.  There was an uproar in many circles and some dealers refused.  Eventually, he was convinced to issue an apology, but the paper continued.

What to make of Ford?  He did great things for the middle class.  He was apparently open to having immigrants and people of colour work for him.   He revolutionized manufacturing.  If he had just been anti-Semitic, making comments at parties or preferring not to hire Jews, I might have believed that this was a reflection of the times.  But he not only published his beliefs (along with a lot of incorrect history, a cardinal sin in my eyes) he printed an English translation of the infamous forgery “The Protocols of Zion”.  This early conspiracy theory has long legs.  I found a copy at Academia.edu along with the comment that it was suppressed history.  One can also find all 722 pages of The International Jew.  Perhaps there are readers who agree with Ford, but I can’t look at him as a benefactor of humanity any more.

If this is too long to hold your attention, there is a 2013 American Experience from PBS on Ford that covers some of this https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/henryford/ and there are several books on it, including Henry Ford and the Jews:The Mass Production of Hate, by Neal Baldwin.

Charles Lindbergh

charles-lindbergh---opposition-to-world-war-ii.jpg1.BATES, BETH TOMPKINS. “Henry Ford Ushers in a New Era for Black Workers.” In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, 39-68. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2020.

In May of 1927, at the age of 25, Charles Lindbergh became the darling of America when he became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic.  He was an ideal of the all-American boy, good-looking, diffident, from a solid Midwestern background.  He was idolized by all.   Two years later, he married Anne Morrow.  He might have faded into semi-obscurity, especially with the shock of the Great Depression, except for the horror of the kidnapping and murder of his first child, Charles Jr. in 1932.  The media circus around the event drove the Lindberghs to move to Germany where they lived until 1939.   “While living abroad, Lindbergh, acting at the U.S. military’s request, made multiple trips to Germany to assess the country’s aviation capabilities. He was impressed by what he encountered: As historian Thomas Doherty says, Nazi Germany shared Lindbergh’s admiration of “Spartan physicality” and aviation-centric militarism.”  (Meilan Solly, “The True History behind the Plot Against America”  Smithsonian , Mar 1, 2020)

He seems to have also been impressed with German ideas on racial purity. In this, Lindbergh is much less a cipher than Ford.  He hated Jews; he believed they were secretly running the world, but he also hated Negroes, Slavs, Chinese, Arabs—anyone who wasn’t ‘Aryan’. 

When he came back to the US, Lindbergh became a spokesperson of the “America First” movement.  This was a strong isolationist group that did not want to be involved in another European war.  Lindbergh’s father had been opposed to American’s entering World War I, feeling that it was only intended to make Wall Street financiers richer.  Along with his German experience, this made the aviator a perfect representative. He gave speeches all across the country.  Lindbergh’s main argument for staying out of the war was military. “But we in this country have a right to think of the welfare of America first, just as the people in England thought first of their own country when they encouraged the smaller nations of Europe to fight against hopeless odds.”  Hitler was winning and the war was already lost.  Why fight a losing war?  Many agreed with him. Then, in a speech in Des Moines Iowa, in September of 1941, he stated, “I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.”   Other comments made it clear to most of America that he preferred the Nazis to Communists and that he felt Hitler was the only one keeping the “Asiatic hordes” at bay.  For more information, including the texts of his speeches, see: http://www.charleslindbergh.com/americanfirst/speech.asp

When the war began, Lindbergh went on his own to the Pacific.  Eventually, he flew several combat missions.   Many people forgave or ignored his pre-war folly.

Charles Lindbergh died in 1974.  It wasn’t until 2001 that three of his seven German children revealed their existence, later proved with DN tests.  Starting about 1957, Lindbergh had simultaneous affairs with three women in Germany and Switzerland.  He may well have been fond of all of them, but there is also a suspicion that he was acting on the belief that the world needed more Aryan children. 

charles-lindbergh—opposition-to-world-war-ii.jpg1.BATES, BETH TOMPKINS. “Henry Ford Ushers in a New Era for Black Workers.” In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, 39-68. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2020.

charles-lindbergh—opposition-to-world-war-ii.jpg1.BATES, BETH TOMPKINS. “Henry Ford Ushers in a New Era for Black Workers.” In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, 39-68. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2020.

henry_ford_grand_cross_1938.jpgApart from believing in America first, Ford and Lindbergh also shared  the ‘honour’ of the highest civilian award Nazi Germany gave, The Order of the German Eagle.  Ford’s was given in 1938 in Michigan, Lindbergh’s was presented by Herman Goering in 1939. 

Lindburgh and Goering.jpg

Now, when I began working on this, it was because I was wondering if the positive things people did were negated when they also did evil things.  I still don’t know.

But I do know that the feelings expressed by Ford and Lindbergh are becoming more prevalent today.  America First is a catchphrase again.  Bigotry of all sorts is becoming more open.  And, while most of the world is coming together through a shared fear, there are those who somehow still have decided to blame the Jews.  I have read a number of comments to the effect that George Soros is somehow behind the virus.  The NY Post just had an article on Neo-Nazis encouraging those who have tested positive to give the disease to Jews, who invented it so they could sell vaccines.  Tricky, since there isn’t one.   https://nypost.com/2020/03/23/white-supremacists-reportedly-urge-members-to-infect-cops-jews-with-coronavirus/

Since I started writing this, the world has changed.  It’s not just hatred of the Jew; as I said in my last post, that’s just a warning sign.  In Bangladesh, the internet has been cut off in Rohinga refugee camps.  Why?  I have no idea.   I do know that the misinformation and blaming of others is coming from the very top.  We can follow that into chaos or we can decide that this is a chance to make the earth one unified entity, remembering, as so may have said, we’re all in this together.