The “uses” of Charles Lindbergh, part I

From "Click" Magazine, February 1939

The name and reputation of Charles A. Lindbergh have been put to myriad uses since 1927:  as a “boy hero” and role model for youth; as a symbol of American independence and boldness; as an emblem of family tragedy made gruesomely public.   For some time, however, the most frequent “use” of the Lindbergh name has been in connection with his anti-interventionist stance before World War II, especially his comments about the “Jewish race” being one of the forces pushing America into the European war in 1939-41.  Lindbergh–or perhaps more accurately, “Lindbergh” as a idea or a symbol or a “brand”–has been deployed in the rhetorical battles of right-wingers, white supremacists, and anti-Semitic groups, as well as ordinary conservative groups.  It’s remarkable, in fact, how often his name comes up in contemporary discourse, and this blog and my project will be examining some of them in the near future.

Today we have a rather complex news item about a war of words between liberal and conservative bloggers and organizations revolving around US policy toward Israel.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to what they felt were attacks coming from the Center for American Progress and Media Matters–two progressive/liberal organizations:

When it comes to the charges of being ‘Israel Firsters’ and having ‘dual loyalty,’ we not only plead innocent but also counter-charge that these sponsored bloggers are guilty of dangerous political libels resonating with historic and toxic anti-Jewish prejudices.  These odious charges have been around since Henry Ford in 1920 said “wars are the Jews’ harvest,” Charles Lindbergh in 1940 condemned Jews for conspiring to plunge America into World War II, and “Jewish neocons” were charged with colluding with Israel to cause the 2003 Iraq War.

A writer for The Economist‘s Democracy in America blog
quotes the above, and writes:  “Dual-loyalty charges are indeed pretty dicey. Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh were anti-semites, and their claims that Jews caused the first and second world wars were baseless anti-semitic propaganda.”  But he goes on to take issue, sharply, with the Wiesenthal Center for conflating the Ford and Lindbergh statements with the last item, the support of neocons for the Iraq War, pointing out that there are, in fact, a lot of Jewish neo-cons who, along with (if not in collusion with) the Israeli government did indeed press for the United States to invade Iraq in 2003.

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