If you don’t know this part of American history, it is vital that you learn it and understand it, so that you may understand today’s events. This is from an excerpt of a book discussed on NPR’s All Things Considered.
”Despite efforts made by William Randolph Hearst, Walter Lippmann, Bernard Baruch, and others to convince him of the necessity for a benevolent despot to seize control of the country, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was unswayed.
Hearst, the nation's most powerful publisher, went so far as to produce a Hollywood movie — “Gabriel Over the White House”, starring Walter Huston — to instruct both Roosevelt and the American public how to succumb to dictatorship. Even though Italy's Benito Mussolini and Fascism were enormously popular and highly regarded in America at the time, Roosevelt distrusted autocracy, did not believe that one could count on a benevolent dictator to remain so, and, especially, maintained an absolute commitment to the U.S. Constitution.”
It’s important to understand how shaken the people’s faith in America and Democracy was at the time. To use Krugman’s phrase, Very Serious People were searching for an alternative to capitalism and democracy -- both on the left (Communism) and right (Fascism). Those models had failed -- worldwide -- in the Great Depression. That desperation even included this;
When The Bankers Plotted To Overthrow FDR
"This is despotism, this is tyranny, this is the annihilation of liberty," one senator wrote to a colleague. "The ordinary American is thus reduced to the status of a robot. The president has not merely signed the death warrant of capitalism, but has ordained the mutilation of the Constitution, unless the friends of liberty, regardless of party, band themselves together to regain their lost freedom.”
What many refused to see then -- and now -- is how the President clung to the center while others called for wild swings to the left and right. You might think that the verbal attacks on the President are unprecedented. They are not.
Critics on the right worried that Roosevelt was a Communist, a socialist or the tool of a Jewish conspiracy. Critics on the left complained his policies didn't go far enough. Some of Roosevelt's opponents didn't stop at talk. Though it's barely remembered today, there was a genuine conspiracy to overthrow the president.
The President is a
Do you see how history repeats itself? Look for the next Mussolini in Greece. The people there are desperate for a way out of their crisis. Krugman has already warned us about Hungary. This is not over. Not by a long shot.
The more you know the more likely you are to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.
February 14, 2012