Tuesday, March 08, 2005

About Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh's life is a strange one in American history. No one received the adulation he did in 1927 for his airplane flight across the seas. No one paid a bigger price for fame in subsequent public humiliations, again and again-- first the wrenching kidnapping and death of his son (as big a story in its day as the O.J. trial), then the treatment given him for speaking his mind about war, the onslaught of public abuse denouncing the well-meaning American as a traitor, Roosevelt refusing him the chance during the war to clear his name, until sympathetic friends allowed this greatest American flyer to quietly play a role and help his country.

Lindbergh may well have been a bigot, like the bulk of the American population at the time. (Even Eleanor Roosevelt is on the record having made anti-Semitic remarks-- which is not a true or full barometer of her personality.) What I found ironic about the Roth novel is that Lindbergh was actually on the receiving end of fascist behavior.

Unlike Franklin Roosevelt, Lindbergh's personality was transparent-- a naif with the virtues and prejudices of the middle America he typified. At heart a good person-- as Berg's biography makes clear-- seeking to do the right thing and suffering the consequences of his actions and statements. He was never less than always brave. Being leery of war is never a bad thing. The first world war had caused unbelievable carnage (nations counting their casualties not in the thousands, but the millions). Sober people wished to avoid a repeat. Lindbergh surely was incapable of envisioning the full extent of Hitler's evil. But he also made the case that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia would fight to a stalemate, or destroy each other.

Philip Roth addresses no complexities, no political realities-- for instance, that crafty FDR could've shredded Lindbergh without half trying. This is exactly what FDR did. Unless he's writing a fable with deeper meaning (he's not), such childlike and wrong simplicity from a novelist of Roth's reputation is inexcusable. A writer at the end of his string.

8 comments:

Beowulf-Poet said...

Adolph Hitler’s life was a strange one in German history. Few received the adulation he did when he united the defeated German people, and no one paid a bigger price for fame in subsequent public humiliations—his defeat by the Russians, assassination attempts on his life, his suicide in a bunker.

Hitler may well have been a bigot, like the bulk of the German population at the time. (But even Winston Churchill appointed avowed anti-Semites to his cabinet, which is not the full barometer of his personality.)

What I find ironic about the Roth novel is that, while he spends so much time trying to understand his Jewish characters, his artistic imagination seems to fail him when confronting the man behind the Holocaust—did he do it because he was a failed artist? Because of his experiences in World War I? Because of the lies people were spreading about his having one testicle?

Unlike Franklin Roosevelt, Hitler’s personality was transparent. All he wanted was a strong, racially pure Germany and some Lebensraum. He was never less than always brave. National unity is never a bad thing, and stabilizing Europe under one strong leader might have avoided a repeat of the horrible carnage of WWI, which Hitler, who personally experienced it, like all sober people wished to avoid.

Charles Lindbergh, thirty years after the Allied powers and the United States defeated fascism, liberated the concentration camps, and was well on its way to rebuilding Europe and Japan; thirty years, in short, after the world had been demonstrably saved and even most Germans and Japanese admitted the same; thirty years later Lindbergh still believed that the United States “lost” the war and was mistaken to enter it.

At least Hitler, who knew the score when he killed himself in the closing days of World War II, didn’t subscribe to such a stupid idea.

And how could Roth, writing a counterfactual narrative about the experiences of a Jewish family in an alternate-universe United States, fail to explore the political realities of that fascinatin' fascist Charles Lindbergh? I mean, I'm interested in that stuff. I just read Berg's biography! Thank God that washed up old man Roth doesn't have a blog, otherwise we'd be subjected to his idiotic, misguided prattlings, about things he half-knows, all the time!

Anonymous said...

Hitler was a "genius", but he was also evil and utterly self-serving, and at the end of the war, he turned on his german people.

Pound was a raving moron. I think its justice that his reputation as an anti-semite is well deserved, and ironic because his first name was Ezra.Whether or not he should have been locked away is another thing.

Gunter Grass's Tin Drum was an attempt for the conscientious people of Germany to deal with their awful legacy. Not read by many Americans.Should be.

Linbergh flew a plane. Who cares about him? I don't think he was Hitler, and if Roth's book says so, that is overblown, but he may have said some dumb things. Like all our heroes, if the bio is large enough, they reveal some disappointing things.

Anonymous said...

I usually enjoy the commentary on this site, so I thought that I'd put in a comment about Roth's book. Lindbergh, in the end, actually is a pawn of the Fascists rather than a Nazi himself. At the very least, his wife comes across as unambiguously heroic. This is a book about history being made before the eyes of historically unimportant characters (the Roths), and part of the novel's terror comes from the inability of these provinvial Newark Jews to predict, from one day to the next, the motives and intentions of those in power. If Walter Winchell can be the hero, then why can't Charles Lindbergh be the villain? Look at the appendices. Roth doesn't mean to re-write history completely.

Noah Cicero said...

Prophecy
Wow, you are fucking stupid. You have to be the dumbest person I've seen write on this blog. I would much more enjoy if Eggers or Bisell dropped by for a friendly chat than to listen to your retarded ass stick up for Hilter. Wenclas' post is about Roth's book, and he's comparing Lingberg to FDR, not fucking Hitler who was an insane asshole going nuts because of syphilis who started a goddamned war because he couldnt get into painting school.
"Hitler was a "genius", but he was also evil,"
How can someone be a fucking genius and racist at the same time, somebody fucking tell me that. He was so smart that he couldn't figure out that Jewish people were normal everyday jack off humans like the gentiles. Jesus fucking Christ you are stupid! All that takes is looking. You called a man genius that endorsed a philosophy that says Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler are evil creatures. What kind of asshole are you!!!
And what the hell does evil even mean, like Satan or The Prince of Darkness, or some Gin, or Mara or a demonic sprite was hiding in Hilter's asshole fucking with his great genius.
That's all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

I understand that morality and intelligence are two different things.

King said...

Cuteness. In response to anything said on this blog we get not responsible discussion looking at the facts, but inane, contrived cuteness.
Almost anyone can be compared to Hitler in some way. To do that in Lindbergh's case is unfair, a slur on his name, and a refusal to allow opinions contrary to the "accepted" mainstream.
That many people thought we "lost" the war when Stalin gobbled up half of Europe is not a new idea. (Roosevelt at Yalta wrote off entire populations.)
There's hardly much evidence that Lindbergh was even anti-Semitic-- much less fascist.
Do words have meaning?
"Fascist" has a specific meaning. Lindbergh doesn't qualify.
As I pointed out, it was Lindbergh who had his books taken out of libraries.
Roosevelt created the military industrial complex, and interned Japanese-Americans.
In his book, Roth has things turned around a bit, doesn't he?
Face the fact that it's ridiculous nonsense-- not even very entertaining-- full of contrivances and hardly worthy of the attention it's received.
Yeah, Pound, one of the most influential poets in American history, was an asshole. Grounds to lock him up and throw away the key! Put him in a cage!
As always, all we get from ULA opponents is not any new ways of looking at things, but the same-old brainwashed herd mentality.
-King

Beowulf-Poet said...

Dear Noah Cicero-

I'm going to charitibly assume that your inability to identify mockery is a self-protective mechanism you've developed out of necessity over your life.

I do not admire Hitler, nor do I make excuses for those who sympathized with Nazis, people like, ohhh I dunno, Charles Lindbergh.

Now I can't think of a more damaging cut than to be called the "dumbest person" to have posted on this blog. I mean, that would be quite an achievement. Why I remember once reading somebody write about eating frozen pretzels on this site.

King said...

Now try addressing the arguments I made in my "Monday Report" essay at www.literaryrevolution.com.
The historians say that Lindbergh wasn't in any way a fascist. Why do you disagree with this?