Eerily Prescient

Via Andrew Sullivan comes this:

But there is an added technique for weakening a nation at its very roots… The method is simple. It is first, a dissemination of discord. A group – not too large – a group that may be sectional or racial or political – is encouraged to exploit its prejudices through false slogans and emotional appeals. The aim of those who deliberately egg on these groups is to create confusion of counsel, public indecision, political paralysis and, eventually, a state of panic. Sound national policies come to be viewed with a new and unreasoning skepticism… As a result of these techniques, armament programs may be dangerously delayed. Singleness of national purpose may be undermined. . . . The unity of the state can be so sapped that its strength is destroyed. All this is no idle dream. It has happened time after time, in nation after nation, during the last two years.

This statement isn’t some right-wing pundit, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt from a a fireside chat on May 26, 1940. Indeed, much of what was said then applies just as well now, such as:

Let us sit down together again, you and I, to consider our own pressing problems that confront us.

There are many among us who in the past closed their eyes to events abroad-because they believed in utter good faith what some of their fellow Americans told them – that what was taking place in Europe was none of our business; that no matter what happened over there, the United States could always pursue its peaceful and unique course in the world.

There are many among us who closed their eyes, from lack of interest or lack of knowledge; honestly and sincerely thinking that the many hundreds of miles of salt water made the American Hemisphere so remote that the people of North and Central and South America could go on living in the midst of their vast resources without reference to, or danger from, other continents of the world.

There are some among us who were persuaded by minority groups that we could maintain our physical safety by retiring within our continental boundaries – the Atlantic on the east, the Pacific on the west, Canada on the north, and Mexico on the south. I illustrated the futility – the impossibility – of that idea in my message to the Congress last week. Obviously, a defense policy based on that is merely to invite future attack.

And, finally, there are a few among us who have deliberately and consciously closed their eyes because they were determined to be opposed to their government, its foreign policy and every other policy, to be partisan, and to believe that anything that the Government did was wholly wrong.

To those who have closed their eyes for any of these many reasons, to those who would not admit the possibility of the approaching storm – to all of them the past two weeks have meant the shattering of many illusions.

They have lost the illusion that we are remote and isolated and, therefore, secure against the dangers from which no other land is free.

(Emphasis mine)

Unfortunately today, many Americans have not woken up to the great storm of our time. FDR’s words are eerily prescient, and a reminder that those who fail to learn history are condemned to repeat it…

5 thoughts on “Eerily Prescient

  1. Fifty years from now, some Republican stooge will be posting statements from Bill Clinton representing “a more sensible generation of Democrats from the past” just as you guys currently try to selectively align yourself with the worldviews of past Democratic Presidents that your party equated with devastation and ruin back when they were actually President. Ronald Reagan was a self-proclaimed FDR clone, George H.W. Bush was Harry Truman and Dan Quayle was Jack Kennedy. One has to wonder why all these conservatives couldn’t find an icon from their own party to compare themselves to rather than smear the good name of former Democrats who they have absolutely nothing in common with.

  2. Mark: Already Bill Clinton looks like a more sensible Democrat compared to the likes of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Al Gore. Shoot, compared to Kerry, Clinton looks like Ronald Reagan.

    Also, interesting how the first choice for Kerry’s veep, with Kerry and many, many Democrats, was a Republican, John McCain.

    And the point is valid: today’s left wing Dems like Kerry would not even be recognized in the era of FDR and Truman.
    The Dem party has strayed from its own proud roots.

  3. Another, that’s a common delusion of GOPers who have moved so far to the right since 1981 that they no longer have a handle on the political spectrum prevalent in most of the 20th century. FDR and Truman were ideologically closer to Ralph Nader than mushy centrists John Kerry, Bill Clinton or Al Gore. The Democratic Party of today is essentially the Republican Party of 1975. The Green Party of today is essentially the Democratic Party of 1975. The Republican Party of today defies political comparison to anything that existed in 1975 save for a few fringe radicals like Ronald Reagan who would later rise to power.

  4. Of course, the whole point of FDR’s political orientation has absolutely no bearing on his essential point – that such naked partisanship is an unnecessary and dangerous distraction during wartime.

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