Bernard Shaw’s play The Devil’s Disciple ends with an
ironic exchange between two British officers who have just realized
that Britain is about to lose her American colonies because of a flukish
oversight by the British cabinet.
Flabbergasted, the obtuse Major Swindon asks: “But what will
history say?” General Burgoyne replies suavely: “History,
sir, will tell lies, as usual.”
Americans, ever earnest about what “history” says, can’t
bear to believe that some of their “great” presidents have
been evil men. So it was probably inevitable that the aging historian-courtier
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. should observe the end of the twentieth century
by naming Franklin D. Roosevelt “Person of the Century.”
Like all those whose lips are still attached to FDR’s backside,
Professor Schlesinger neglects to mention that FDR’s own lips
were attached to Joe Stalin’s backside. In a near-miracle of
distortion, he even manages to give the totally false impression that
Roosevelt had something against Stalin.
Demurring from Time magazine’s choice of Albert Einstein as
P of the C, Schlesinger asks: “But would science conceivably
have flourished had Roosevelt not secured free society against ...
external enemies? Where would Einstein be if Hitler and Stalin had
triumphed?” (In Moscow, no doubt — but that’s another
Sixty years ago, Schlesinger goes on, democracy was “besieged
by Nazism, Communism, and Japanese militarism.” In that dark
hour, “no person was more vital to the survival and success of
the free state than FDR.... He strengthened democracy from without
by leading the grand coalition that defeated the grim forces of atrocity
and horror.... He labored to awaken the nation from its isolationist
slumber and led us to understand the mortal threat posed by foreign
dictators.” Schlesinger even gives FDR indirect credit for the
eventual fall of Communism.
At this point, a familiar eight-letter synonym for bovine ordure irresistibly
suggests itself. Roosevelt did denounce “dictators,” but
not necessarily all of them. He made one important exception.
Franklin Roosevelt loved “Uncle Joe” Stalin, as he affectionately
nicknamed him, as ardently as he hated Hitler. In his first year in
office, just after Stalin had deliberately starved millions of Ukrainians,
FDR gave the Soviet Union the diplomatic recognition it craved. He
fatuously praised Stalin’s constitution for guaranteeing religious
freedom. He ignored Stalin’s purges, excused his show trials,
and forgave his aggression against five countries adjacent to Russia.
He extended Lend-Lease aid to the Soviets before the United States
actually went to war. Toward the end of the war, he was willing to
give Stalin a free hand in Poland, where the war had begun with a joint
German-Soviet invasion. Almost incredibly, he called the Communist
butcher “a Christian gentleman.”
Stalin never had a better friend than FDR. And bear in mind that Roosevelt
befriended him when he had already slaughtered far more people — and
in peacetime! — than Hitler ever would in wartime. FDR’s
jaunty callousness was a perfect match for Stalin’s jovial cruelty.
Contrary to liberal mythology, Roosevelt’s friendship with Stalin
wasn’t just a necessity forced on him by war. It was something
he freely chose when he had a choice, and it went far beyond any strategic
need, beyond mere “appeasement.” He chose to help Stalin
from a position of superior strength — long before his indulgence
could be ascribed to age and illness. At least Neville Chamberlain
never idealized Hitler as “Uncle Adolf.” Next to Roosevelt,
Vidkun Quisling was a paragon of honor.
Joe McCarthy’s famous postwar rampage against Communists in
government missed the point. Soviet agents like Alger Hiss and Harry
Dexter White were only doing on a smaller scale what FDR was doing
on a gigantic one. No wonder commies thrived in the Roosevelt administration
and the Manhattan Project. Can anyone really believe that Roosevelt
would have begrudged a few secrets to Uncle Joe?
Roosevelt trusted Stalin, a fact of which Stalin took full advantage — rather
like a spoiled child who steals from a doting grandparent. Never one
to accept as a gift what he could steal with his own hands, Stalin’s
shameless exploitation of his benefactor marks him as, among other
things, Ingrate of the Century.
Yes, “history” — or at least one historian — is
telling lies, as usual. But do they have to be such whoppers?
Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on December 30, 1999.
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
and archives of some of his columns.
Watch Sobran's last TV appearance on YouTube.
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during the FGF Tribute to Joe Sobran in December 2009.
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