Jenn’s Sunday Sermon
Photo from the Ames Historical Society website
On Wednesday – 40 years to the day after a similar speech by another ‘wartime’ President who also lied the country into war against a nation that was no threat to the US – President Bush told us he had no intentions of listening to Congress, or the Iraq Study Group, or the American people.
At least Johnson was marginally more honest when he said, “We face more cost, more loss, and more agony.”
El Chimperor told us the ‘coming year will demand more patience, more sacrifice, and more resolve.’
What sacrifices, beyond the priceless blood and lives of our soldiers, is George Bush asking the American people to make? What are we giving up here at home in order to see that so-called ‘victory’ in Iraq? (Assuming there can ever be such a thing.)
The right-wing likes to blather a bit about WWII – how we lefties would have allowed Hitler to terrorize the world, blah blah blah. Which ignores, of course, the fact that if WWII had been solely about Jews being killed, the US would have never entered the war.
Even as the intentions of the Nazis toward the Jews became more obvious, there was little support for refugee relief. Four different polls taken in 1938 reported that between 71% and 85% of the U.S. public opposed raising the refugee quota. See Plater Robinson, Deathly Silence: Everyday People in the Holocaust, Southern Institute For Education and Research, Tulane University. In 1938, the President attempted to develop a multi-national approach to the refugee problem through the Evian Conference convened at his suggestion in France where 32 countries met for nine days. Most nations, however, including the U.S. and Britain, were unwilling to make commitments to significantly increase the numbers of refugees they were willing to accept and, apart from establishing a weak international refugee commission based in London, the conference ended with little of substance being accomplished. [emphasis mine]
Yet the Roosevelt Administration’s shift toward more open actions to counter Nazi expansion continued to face strong isolationist opposition, often coupled with antisemitism, as well as objections by those generally opposed to Roosevelt’s massive expansion of the federal government. While the President expressed outrage at the Nazi-organized riots against the Jews in November 1939 followed by the arrest of thousands of Jews, he still reaffirmed the government’s opposition to any significant increase in the refugee quota. As the President began his campaign for an unprecedented third term in 1940, the America First Committee was formally established in July, ultimately growing to over 800,000 members.
From the Eagleton Center for Politics website
It took Pearl Harbor before any Republicans in the Congress really gave two sh*ts about Hitler or Mussolini or Hirohito. Had the Japanese never attacked, the United States would have remained officially isolationist.
Prior to Dec. 7th, through the Lend-Lease program, we were selling arms to one side, (While Granpappy Prescott Bush was selling to the other side.) and young American men who felt the call to duty, even if their country didn’t, were fighting and dying under the British flag.
After the ‘day that shall live in infamy’ America declared war on the Axis Powers, and thus began real sacrifice on the home front. Young men enlisted in droves. Men too old to join the Army became part of the Home Guard, in charge of air raid drills and ensuring black-out curtains covered every window, blocking all light that might help the enemy drop bombs.
In order to continue productions of essential war goods, women joined the labor force, learning how to wield power tools and work heavy machinery. (And learning one didn’t need a Y chromosome to be good at it.)
From the Ames (IA) Historical Society website:
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor dramatically ended the debate over America’s entrance into the war that raged around the world. As eager volunteers flooded local draft board offices ordinary citizens soon felt the impact of the war. Almost overnight the economy shifted to war production. Consumer goods now took a back seat to military production as nationwide rationing began almost immediately. In May of 1942, the U.S. Office of Price Administration (OPA) froze prices on practically all everyday goods, starting with sugar and coffee.
War ration books and tokens were issued to each American family, dictating how much gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes, nylon and other items any one person could buy. Across the country 8000 rationing boards were created to administer these restrictions. The 1943 Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog contains a list of all rationed farm equipment and tells the reasons and benefits of rationing as well as who is eligible. Even chicken wire fencing was rationed.
In order to find the materials needed to produce plane parts and weapons and tires for military use and every other thing needed by their soldiers, communities held scrap drives. Women donated their pots and pans, their silk stockings, rubber raincoats, garden hoses and the tires off their husbands’ vehicles. Rubber was especially needed because Japanese forces had seized the rubber plantations.
Gasoline, sugar, butter, meat – everything was rationed. Every single American (except those of Japanese descent) had a role to play in ensuring the successful outcome of the war, even if it was learning to make meals without meat.
Sacrifice is supposed to be the nature of war, isn’t it?
The Iraqis are sacrificing. Electricity runs for an hour a day, maybe, in Baghdad. Nearly 3000 Iraqis are killed every month. The average Iraqi is afraid of stepping out of their home for fear of death squads and car bombs, and kidnappings that end with dead bodies being found with signs of torture.
But the only Americans making any kind of sacrifice are those brave families who live in fear of the day when two men in crisp uniforms show up at their door.
Photo from the Ames (IA) Historical Society Website