Monday, October 26, 2020

Joe Biden Brings Up Hitler

Yesterday, Joe Biden seemed not to know who he was running against. Before his wife corrected him, he declared that he was standing between America and four more years of George…. Apparently, he was stuck in a time warp and was reliving the presidential campaign of 2004.

Surely, this tells us that a Biden presidency will immediately cause nations around the world to respect American again. Huh?

But then, at the debate last Thursday, Biden claimed that America had had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded some other countries.

He said:

We had a good relationship with Hitler before he, in fact, invaded Europe, the rest of Europe. Come on.

As for the relationship with Hitler, the Roosevelt administration was doing its best to stay out of the war. 

In September, 1938 Roosevelt sent Hitler this polite message:

The conscience and the impelling desire of the people of my country demand that the voice of their government be raised again and yet again to avert and to avoid war.

As you know, Hitler did not take FDR’s words seriously. The American president could expostulate, but he had shown himself weak when it came to doing something to stop Hitler. By that time Hitler had already annexed Austria and was threatening to invade Czechoslovakia. Under the circumstances Roosevelt's words were plaintive, no more or less.

As for the timing, FDR sent the telegram while the British, led by Neville Chamberlain, were negotiating with Hitler in Munich. The negotiation that would lead Britain to appease Germany. In effect, FDR was asking Hitler to be nice. His was a gesture of surrender to Hitler. And it may seriously have undercut Chamberlain’s negotiating position.

Let us also recall, there is no harm done in trying to have constructive relationships with foreign dictators and even tyrants. As William Ury, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, once remarked, when asked whether it was good or bad for Trump to have try to cement a good relationship with foreign tyrants, said that it was a good thing to be soft in personal terms and hard on the terms of the negotiations. Being friendly costs you nothing, as long as you are strict about your goals. Being tough and then giving in is a bad strategy.

The issue with FDR and Germany was the failure to meet aggression and the threat of aggression with anything more than empty words. There is nothing wrong with being nice, until the situation requires strength. Even after Hitler had shown his colors, FDR remained inert.

As for who did have a good relationship with Hitler, who adored and lionized him, the answer is The New York Times. Yes, that New York Times.

It is not just that the Times covered up for Hitler and killed the news about the persecution of Jews, its intrepid reporter painted a glowing portrait of him.

Robert Spencer reports the story on Pajama Media. The Times author was Anne O’Hare McCormick. She wrote her puff piece on July 9, 1933, a few months after Hitler had taken over Germany.

It is an impressive document, which sounds like it was written by a love-smitten schoolgirl:

At first sight the dictator of Germany seems a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller. His sun-browned face is full and is the mobile face of an orator….

His eyes are almost the color of the blue larkspur in a vase behind him, curiously childlike and candid. He appears untired and unworried. His voice is as quiet as his black tie and his double-breasted black suit.

In the country he has plastered with banners and insignia he wears only a small gold eagle in his buttonhole. No flag or swastika is in sight.

He begins to speak slowly and solemnly but when he smiles — and he smiled frequently in the course of the interview — and especially when he loses himself and forgets his listener in a flood of speech, it is easy to see how he sways multitudes. Then he talks like a man possessed, indubitably sincere…. Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.

Spencer continues to describe the McCormack story:

In the 29th paragraph of a 41-paragraph article, she recounts that she asked him: “How about the Jews? At this stage how do you measure the gains and losses of your anti-Semetic [sic] policies?” Hitler answered, she said, with “extraordinary fluency,” and she records his answer – a tissue of victim-blaming and excuse-making – at considerable length.

The Times was aware of Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Yet, it simply did not care.

Then, McCormick recounts, “seeing the second part of the question was not going to be answered, your correspondent referred to the position of women.” Ah, yes: when the interviewee doesn’t want to answer the tough question, go on to something easier. The Times and its allies today always keep this in mind when interviewing Democrats. This surrender mollified Hitler as well: “Herr Hitler’s tension relaxed. He smiled his disarming smile.”

As journalism goes, it deserves a place in the Hall of Shame.


Anonymous said...

Did Anne O’Hare McCormick mentor with Walter Duranty?

Sam L. said...

I haven't always despised, detested, and distrusted the NYT; it's only been the last 20 years. Only 10-15 for the WaPoo.

Peter MacFarlane said...

"As journalism goes, it deserves a place in the Hall of Shame."

Indeed. Along with Walter Duranty's depatches from Ukaine, I would suggest. Remind me again, what paper did he write for?

And his Pulitzer prize still stands.