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America First Controversy

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By:Srdja Trifkovic | May 02, 2016

Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech last Wednesday deserves at least a solid B+ and you can read my take on it in the June issue of Chronicles. It offered an eloquent argument for offensive realism, based on the fact that the international system—composed of sovereign nation-states pursuing their interests—is still essentially competitive and Hobbesian. Trump is the only candidate who understands this cardinal fact, and who unambiguously states America is not and should not be an exception to that timeless principle.

There was no room in the column to consider in detail one aspect of Trump’s speech which has elicited a chorus of mainstream media and Jewish disapproval: his use of the term “America First.” The CNN asserted that the phrase “refers to the America First movement in the early 1940s, in which some elements were associated with anti-semitism and U.S. nationalism in the lead-up to World War II.” Note how “anti-semitism” and “U.S. nationalism” are neatly banded together, with the implication that they are in the same political and moral league.

Bloomberg’s columnist Eli Lake explicitly connected “Trump’s new slogan” with the “Nazi era,” thus reviving this “toxic” phrase which had long been banished from “respectable discourse.” He even accused Trump of emulating Charles Lindbergh’s attacks on FDR in his “personal aspersions against President Obama.” Lake—an “Israel Firster” if there ever was one—went on to claim that “Trump’s Lindbergh-like instincts were apparent in his speech” when he said he would ask NATO allies to pay a fair share for their defense, or else “the U.S. must be prepared to let them defend themselves.” As a cynic commented on informationliberation.com, “The term ‘America First’ was associated with something different in the past, therefore it pretty much means the same thing today, even though it doesn’t. Understand?” (Perhaps nothing better was to be expected from a journalist who five years ago eagerly propagated the atocity lie that Russian agents had bombed the U.S. embassy in Georgia.)

The Anti-Defamation League urged Trump to “reconsider” using the phrase. According to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, the America First movement was characterized by “the undercurrents of anti-semitism and bigotry” and “for many Americans, the term ‘America First’ will always be associated with and tainted by this history . . . associated with incivility and intolerance.”

“It doesn’t seem to matter to trump that America Firsters didn’t want to beat the Nazis,” tweeted Jeffrey Goldberg, an Atlantic columnist. He seems unaware that an overwhelming majority of Americans didn’t want to fight anyone in particular in yet another European war, that FDR won the 1940 election in part thanks to his pledge to keep the United States out of that war—more than a year after it had started—and that in the end it was “the Nazis” who declared war on the U.S. in December 1941, three days after Pearl Harbor. (Let it be recalled that Goldberg’s cover story for the April 2015 issue of the Atlantic was “Is it time for Jews to leave Europe?” As Antony Lerman, former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research has noted, with friends like Goldberg the Jews need no enemies.)

What we are dealing with is an example of the establishment’s reductive propaganda based on the logical fallacy of false equivalence. Along those lines, since the Deutschlandlied—proudly proclaiming that Germany stands “above all else”—is Germany’s national anthem today, just as it was during the Nazi era (1933-45), the Federal Republic equals the Third Reich. As infowars.com columnist has summarized it, “Trump is popular. Hitler was popular. Therefore Trump = Hitler. Trump promises to look out for America’s best interests. Hitler promised to look out for Germany’s best interests. Therefore Trump = Hitler.” The real objective of the campaign is to suggest that having the audacity to put one’s own country’s interests first is reactionary at best, and more likely indicative of “U.S. nationalism”—which is symbiotically linked to antisemitism and has a toxic history of bigotry, incivility, intolerance etc.

The antiwar movement of 1940-41 has been brazenly demonized, and the history of the America First Committee (AFC) systematically misrepresented for decades by the same people who simultaneously promote a depraved mass culture, multiculturalist indoctrination and mass immigration in order to neutralize the Americans’ sense of historical and cultural identity. Trump’s detractors believe that we should not feel a special bond for any particular country or nation (except, in Eli Lake’s case, to Israel), but transfer our loyalties and preferences to “the international community.” Such notions have been internalized by the American elite class and the establishment of both major parties. Back in 1999 then-Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott felt ready to declare that the United States may not exist “in its current form” in the 21st century, because the very concept of nationhood—here and throughout the world—will have been rendered obsolete: “All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary.”

Those who object to the term “America First” would agree. To them, all countries are but transient, virtual-reality entities. Owing emotional allegiance to any one of them is irrational; promoting its interests in preference to those of others is suspect and probably outright fascist.

In 1940—just before war became America’s permanent condition—Stanford Graduate School of Business student John F. Kennedy sent it a check for $100, with a note reading “what you all are doing is vital.” Presumably Messrs. Lake, Greenblatt, Goldberg et al believe that that act should have disqualified JFK from seeking presidency in 1960. Or that Gerald Ford—an early paid-up member—should be erased from the list of presidents. Or that Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings should be pulled down, Gore Vidal’s books and Lillian Gish’s movies burned, the name of the Walt Disney Studios changed, and Utah’s America First Credit Union liquidated. 

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