You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

September 01, 2006

Thank God No One In America Can Remember Anything About Anything Ever

Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday:

"But some seem not to have learned history's lessons...once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism."

George Bush yesterday:

The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century...As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be.

Where were both of these speeches given? At the national convention of the American Legion.

And what was the American Legion up to in the 1920s and 30s? Let's ask one of the greatest reporters of the 20th century, George Seldes:

In a interview in January 1923, Commander-in-Chief Alvin Owsley of the American Legion not only endorsed Mussolini and Fascism, but announced his readiness to do what the Duce did, that is, upset the democratic form of government, establish a reign of terror, maintain a dictatorship where the masses of people are deprived of all civil rights.

"If ever needed," he said, "the American Legion stands ready to protect our country's institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy."

Asked whether that meant taking over the government, he replied:

"Exactly that...Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States."

And who were those loathsome appeasers whom Donald Rumsfeld hates so much?

Prior to April, 1941, his journal now discloses, [Charles] Lindbergh was exceedingly active behind the scenes in generating antiwar sentiment. The flier worked intimately with Robert R. McCormick, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune; Robert Wood, board Chairman of Sears, Roebuck; former president Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford, Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, Hanford MacNider [co-founder of the American Legion], Senator Burton K. wheeler of Montana and John T. Flynn, the economist.

Now, it should be said that even at the time there were contrary currents within the American Legion. Moreover, organizations don't have an immutable character, and they do some worthwhile things today. Nevertheless, the leadership remains genuinely reactionary...and given their history, speeches to them about standing up to fascism are strongly contraindicated.

Posted at September 1, 2006 11:11 AM | TrackBack

Indeed, some months ago a representative of the American Legion came out and said that they were ready to stand up if the government needed help quelling protestors.

It genuinely frightened me; and was the first occasion I have ever had to consider buying a gun.

Posted by: Realrealgone at September 1, 2006 08:13 PM

Generally I love this blog. But here, I beg to differ. Nobody in America has forgotten anything, because nobody in America knew anything to begin with. Sad, but I think true. What we know about the word "fascist" is that it's something bad, and that it's like got something to do with WWII or something. Messrs. Bush and Rumsfeld would be powerless if anyone knew a goddamn thing. :-(

Posted by: Guest at September 1, 2006 08:13 PM

Guest has a point.

I had no idea, for instance, that the American Legion still existed.

Posted by: Saheli at September 2, 2006 01:41 AM

Saheli: I had no idea, for instance, that the American Legion still existed.

For real?

I guess I've been out of the big city too long to realize how cut off the two cultures are from each other.

Posted by: Nell at September 2, 2006 07:34 AM

I thought today's American Legion activities consisted mostly of renting out their meeting halls for wedding reception, parties, etc.

Posted by: wkmaier at September 2, 2006 07:53 AM

It's unfair to tarnish the modern American Legion with the fascist dreams of its founders over 80 years ago. A lot of time has passed. A lot of things have changed.

Why, old Abe Lincoln wouldn't even recognize today's Republican Party as the party he led years ago. The Republicans have moved on. And so, I believe, have the American Legion.

Posted by: Michael Burton at September 3, 2006 01:45 PM

Let's not forget this quote that Charles "Blofeld" Krauthammer keeps trotting out. Though Krauthammer always, always omits the political party of Senator Borah. No kidding!

"Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided."

-- Republican Idaho Senator William Borah, upon hearing of the Nazi invasion of Poland


Posted by: at September 3, 2006 03:19 PM

One thing that seems to get left out of all of these speeches is the fact that America wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to get into WWII - in fact, if Japan had not attached the naval base at Peral Harbor, it's likely that America would have sat out the whole war. So, who were the appeasers? Who sat around on their butts a full 2 years before getting involved?

I don't have a problem with using our military to actually fight in a just war, like WWII. I do have a problem with these wars of choice like Iraq, Viet Nam & most likely Iran - although - I don't know where the troops are going to come from for that, unless they reinstitute the draft.

Posted by: Morague at September 3, 2006 03:43 PM

Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor 9 days before the attack. He let it happen. FDR was a 33rd degree Freemason and beholden to the British crown. Therefore, because of England, he had no choice but to join the war.

Many of you might laugh this off as crazy, but put aside your brainwashing and do 10-20 minutes of research and you will be see I am right. It is sad, and I wish it wasn't, but it is.

This is no longer a matter of left vs. right. This is a red-herring to keep us common folks bickering amongst ourselves, while crooks from both sides deal in drugs, human trafficking, war profiteering, and stealing our treasury.

Posted by: mas at September 3, 2006 04:32 PM

I'm with you on this, mas. Roosevelt knew. Indeed, the attack was provoked by cutting Japan off from scrap steel, iron and oil. Not because we had any interest in Japan, but to convince the American public that our entering the war was a defensive measure. Sound familiar? (This is not to say that we necessarily should not have fought in WWII, although I do believe that Stalin deserves the credit for stopping Hitler. My point is that governments lie, and citizens choose not to "know" this.)

And, I am in no way pinning my hopes for world salvation on the Democratic Party. My hopes rest with the courageous peoples of Latin America, who have tired of the global game of "Survival of the Fattest."

Posted by: Realrealgone at September 3, 2006 08:00 PM

Oh, and mas, I would argue that it has never been right vs. left; it has always been up vs. down.
(Sorry, don't mean to be a blog hog.)

Posted by: Realrealgone at September 3, 2006 08:08 PM

Of course Rummy and GWB/Rove count on the fact that most Americans remember nothing. Not only do they remember nothing from the past, their preception of the world suffers from an inability to place events that don't fit their preconceptions into their memory as they occur. It is sort of a memory deficit or negative memory capacity. The other day a co-worker said of an ignorant Bushbot in the office that he is so dumb he had "forgotten more than he ever knew."

Posted by: Bavorsky_Ami at September 3, 2006 08:42 PM

Bush and Rummy seem to forget that some in Bush's own family supported the Nazis and Rummy does not mention his own appeasement mission to Saddam back in the 80's.

Posted by: doug at September 3, 2006 11:40 PM

The American Legion prospers only in small towns, and is taken seriously by only a few old guys even there. If you're a vet, (spouse, guest) it's a great place to go for drinks and parties, (the drinks are cheap, and the small town gossip entertaining) but meetings? Forget it! John Kennedy said it best: "The American Legion hasn't had an original idea since 1918."

Posted by: Momcat, TN at September 4, 2006 08:34 AM

Height of Republican "NewSpeak". In fact it was the Republicans- many of them right-wing admirers of Hitler and Mussolini- who capitalized on America's war weariness and desire to avoid international disputes. They led the opposition to Roosevelt's intent to stop Germany and Japan. And though Roosevelt was able to help Britain a bit with programs such as "Lend-Lease", it was not until Japan attacked us in Dec.1941 that he was able to fully overcome these isolationist Republicans and lead America to victory over the two fascist countries which truly threatened world domination. If it had been a Republican president instead, there would probably be a picture of special envoy Rumsfeld in Berlin shaking the Fuhrer's hand.

Posted by: NM at September 4, 2006 10:49 AM

"Fighting fascism" is the latest & greatest Fox News/White House talking point. Nevermind that very few Americans could ever make even a basic, legitimate distinction between Islamic-terrorism and reactionary, right-wing political movements. Nevermind that Islamic terrorists will never collectively match the military might of the Wehrmacht, (or even that of the hopelessly- incompotent military of fascist Italy). I guess that "fighting communism" now lacks that certain visceral punch on the American public's panic button that it used to...

Posted by: Leo Strauss at September 4, 2006 03:21 PM

Read Smedly Butler - "War is a Racket."

He describes being asked if he would lead American soldiers,now back from the WWI in taking over the country under the direction of some very wealthy fascists in the business world. Morgan Stanley was specificly mentioned. He also explained that at the time American Legion members were the dumb muscle big business used as strike breakers. Why do you think they have a clubhous in every town?

It's a great book from a different time. The problems are only worse now.

Posted by: mparker at September 4, 2006 05:09 PM