September 26, 2004

Coincidences...

Apparently Phillip Roth is coming out with an alternate history novel, The Plot Against America, where the Isolationist Charles Lindbergh runs for President in 1940, and keeps us out of WWII.

Orrin Judd begs us not to accept the popular caricature of Lindbergh as a Nazi-type racist. This is from a book review by Orrin of the biography Lindbergh, by A. Scott Berg:

...None of this excuses Lindbergh's ill considered language about Jews.  But it does raise the question of why he is the one who is dogged by the reputation of being an anti-Semite and a Nazi.  When you think of FDR, your first thought is not: "He was an anti-Japanese, anti-Black racist".  But he actually wielded power and helped to oppress these peoples.  Lindbergh never had a chance to violate anyone's civil rights, but his entire life seems to indicate that he would not have been capable of these actions.  (For a long time he prayed for the soul of the Japanese pilot that he shot down.)  It is completely unfair that this reputation will always follow him.

Moreover, his reasons for being an isolationist turned out to be prophetic.  He foresaw a brutally destructive war that would leave Europe in ruins and at the mercy of the Soviet Union.  He feared that having become involved in the war, America would be mired in Europe for generations.  After fifty years of Cold War and crippling military expenditures, who will argue that he was wrong?

Topping it all off, as soon as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he endorsed our entry into the war and sought to join up.  A bitterly vindictive FDR made sure that he could not return to active duty, but Lindbergh found ways around this and eventually flew fighter and bomber missions in the South Pacific, in addition to helping with aircraft design, devising ingenious ways of conserving fuel in flight, serving as a human guinea pig in high altitude flight experiments, and many other unheralded contributions to the war effort...

I don't know much about Roth's book yet, but a plot where a Republican is elected President, and America immediately turns into a Nazi-like state? Hmmmmmmm. Haven't I heard something like that lately? Probably not, it would be strange if more than one person came up with that idea. A strange coincidence....

Oh vell, ven mein President iss re-elected unanimously, zen vee vill no longer tolerate zeese insults!

* Update: It occurs to me that I may have this wrong. I assumed this was just another iteration of the half-witted Bush-is-Hitler cackle we hear so much of. But if it's a book about an appeaser elected (improbably) President, who keeps America on the sidelines while crazed fanatics slaughter helpless people and the world slides into savagery, well, kinda sounds like a devastating portrait of Kerry and the Dems.

I somehow doubt that that's what's intended. Being a writer or artist means, above all, that you have to conform. I don't think Mr Roth would be allowed to deviate so far from the official line....


Posted by John Weidner at September 26, 2004 1:38 PM
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