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How the Left Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Lindbergh

It's doubtful that Barack Obama would like to be compared to Charles Lindbergh, but over at the Guardian's "Comment is Free" blog, Mark Schmitt attempts to resurrect ol' Charlie and groups not only Obama alongside the pro-Nazi isolationist but oddly, … Read More

By / October 8, 2007

It's doubtful that Barack Obama would like to be compared to Charles Lindbergh, but over at the Guardian's "Comment is Free" blog, Mark Schmitt attempts to resurrect ol' Charlie and groups not only Obama alongside the pro-Nazi isolationist but oddly, himself as well.

As Schmitt explains in his piece, the origins of this grouping lie in what he sees as Obama's principled refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin because doing so, according to the junior Senator from Illinois, has become "a substitute for I think true patriotism…" There's an element of truth in this sentiment, and I don't for a minute doubt Obama's patriotism. I think his decision not wear the pin, however, is morally and politically obtuse, as 1) it only provides fodder for the right-wing smear machine, but, more importantly, 2) even if you do believe that patriotism has been hijacked by the political right (which, to some degree, it has) that in no way obviates your ability, or, dare I say–your duty–to express your own patriotism. Obviously, wearing a lapel pin is not the only way to do that, but it's a small way, and nor does it automatically associate you with those people whom you believe are cheapening patriotism. But Schmitt thinks otherwise, and calls for the actual taking down of American flags, the removal of pins, in other words, throwing out the legitimately patriotic baby with the jingoistic bathwater.

But onto the heart of the matter, which is Charles Lindbergh. Following a bloggingheads.tv discussion Schmitt did with David Frum (he of "axis of evil" fame), Frum later remarked on another webisode that he was afraid that the Bush administration and conservatives in general has been driving people on the left, like Schmitt, to embrace views akin to "Charles Lindbergh." Of this comparison, which other liberals have found to be odious (even if they can't spell his name correctly), Schmitt writes:

Some people found comparing me to Lindbergh offensive, given that Lindbergh in the 1930s was "a notorious isolationist Hitler-fancying anti-Semite." Perhaps I should have been offended, but I wasn't, because I assumed Frum was referring mainly to Lindbergh's isolationism and his opposition to US entry into World War II as a prominent member of the America First committee.

So Schmitt would have been offended had he thought Frum meant to compare him to "a notorious isolationist Hitler-fancying anti-Semite," but he's not offended because he believes Frum was merely comparing him to Lindbergh for the latter's opposition to entry into World War II (Schmitt, methinks, fancies the "notorious isolationist" part, not the "Hitler-fancying anti-Semite" aspect of Lindbergh). Frum's comparison may have been totally unfair–but Schmitt doesn't seem to think so; he has no problem being compared to Charles Lindbergh, as long as it's just the isolationist Lindberg, not the anti-Semitic Lindberg. Glad we got that out of the way.

There are not many journalists or politicians who come to mind as being radical enough in their view to warrant comparison to Charles Lindbergh (Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul and Justin Raimondo immediately come to mind) and the few that do are on the political right. I never thought I'd see the day when someone on the Left would have no problem being associated with Lindbergh-esque isolationism. But it's good to see that Schmitt is at least being honest.

 

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