Monday, January 1, 2018

Our Darkest Hour

By Isaiah Thomas
Board of Editors

Around these parts we're bundling up and heading out to the movies to watch a stirring tale of resistance against overwhelming odds.  No, not the one with the light sabers; the one with Winston Churchill chomping on his cigar and inveighing against Nah-zis.

The Churchill film (Darkest Hour) recounts with reasonable accuracy the struggle of Winston Churchill and the British people in the dark days of late May 1940, when it appeared that the entire British Expeditionary Force might be trapped and captured by the Wehrmacht in northern Belgium, leaving Britain without any meaningful land defense against a potential German invasion.

Not pictured here: President U Bum surveys
damage in Puerto Rico

With the BEF fighting for its life toward the Dunkirk beaches, Churchill had to face a revolt in his own cabinet, led by Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, nĂ© Murray Feigenbaum [Louise, please check – Copy Desk].  Halifax, unnerved by the collapse of the French Army and the scale of the defeat on the Continent, urged Churchill's War Cabinet to take up an offer by a stooge of Italian Fascist strongman Benito Mussolini to mediate a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany.

The odds against Britain were staggering and the forces arrayed against her were immense.  Yet Churchill refused to countenance a loser's peace and rallied his country to fight Hitler to the end.

Anyone surveying the wreckage of American institutions wrought since the last election and the installation of President U Bum could scarcely come to a conclusion other than that Churchill and the British were in better shape in May 1940 than we are now, even as we know that Britain's wartime ordeal had by then hardly begun.

Yet the British possessed strengths that the fragmented American Resistance could only hope for.  Churchill led what was truly a United Kingdom, if the contemporaneous accounts of British morale are to be believed.  The Brits understood what they were up against and mobilized all their resources to fight back.  They had a fleet.  They had an air force.   They had quasi-independent allies like Canada and Australia who fought by her side.  By June, they had an army.  And they had Franklin Roosevelt, a canny supporter held back only by the isolationism and stupidity of his own people.

Sound familiar?

Not pictured here: mass media protecting
corrupt President by smearing law enforcement
And although our adversary is every bit as destructive and dangerous as the one faced by Britain, we have by comparison so much less to fight it with.  Britain's enemy was on the Continent, with no obvious way to get across the Channel.  By contrast, our enemy is not only at the gates, it has occupied Washington, D.C. and both political branches.  It has besieged and possibly taken the Supreme Court and is slowly but surely subverting the remainder of the Article III judiciary.

While the British people were not fully informed of every scrap of grim news, in general they were getting a reasonable approximation of reality from mass media who pretty much saw the world as it was.  Although the BBC in the thirties had shamefully served the cause of appeasement by among other things barring Churchill from its airwaves, by 1940 it was out of the disinformation business.  The English-language services of the Nazi Deutsche Rundfunk were widely ridiculed.  Even Joseph Goebbels lacked the balls to pass off Lord Haw-Haw as “fair and balanced.”

When Winston Churchill, having told Parliament to prepare for “hard and heavy tidings,” vowed to fight on to final victory, no matter the odds, he was not greeted by an opposition party who questioned his nationality or sought to deflect attention from the crisis at hand by smearing Britain's law-enforcement and counter-espionage agencies.  Instead, they joined Churchill to fight what they understood correctly to be the common menace.

And Churchill, whatever his faults, did not regard His Majesty's Government as a source of financing for his private financial interests or free advertising for his busto golf clubs.  Nor was he subject to nobbling by foreign adversaries through bribery, blackmail, or flattery.

But, like Churchill's Britain, the American Resistance is not without resources.  It has access to generally accurate information.  It has financial means and some legal protection.  What it lacks thus far is the one indispensable requirement for victory that the British possessed in May 1940: the quickening realization of the people, in Mollie Panter-Downes's words, that they are fighting for their lives.

Happy New Year.

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