What do Peter Thiel, Jerry Falwell Jr and Paul Ryan have in common? All they will be remembered for is backing the loser’s loser of white supremacy: Trump. Like Trump they will go down in history as fools- mean anti-American fools. Trump is not only taking down the Republican Party he’s dismembering all reputations that converge with his.
The toxicity of Trump, his lies, his hubris and his stupidity is potent enough to brand anyone caught in the glare of the Trump inferno of self-destruction as a loser. Thus support for Trump is literally all anyone tainted by him will be remembered for. Call this the Lindbergh effect. I’ll explain that but first this: as noted by PolitcusUSA:
If you’re tired of Trump supporters claiming they’re not racists when they are fetching upon hearing Donald Trump’s dog whistles, listen up. Here’s the proof that there is a deep relationship between Donald Trump and white supremacists.
Nicholas Confessore reported in the New York Times on the “circular current” that flows between white nationalists and Donald Trump:“Mr. Trump’s Twitter presence is tightly interwoven with hordes of mostly anonymous accounts trafficking in racist and anti-Semitic attacks. When Little Bird, a social media data mining company, analyzed a week of Mr. Trump’s Twitter activity, it found that almost 30 percent of the accounts Mr. Trump retweeted in turn followed one or more of 50 popular self-identified white nationalist accounts. At times, a circular current seems to flow between white nationalists and Mr. Trump on Twitter.”
“On the internet, Mr. Trump is invoked by anonymous followers brandishing stark expressions of hate and anti-Semitism, surprisingly amplified this month when Mr. Trump tweeted a graphic depicting Hillary Clinton’s face with piles of cash and a six-pointed star that many viewed as a Star of David.”
As noted in “Fallen Hero: Charles Lindbergh in the 1940s” (PBS American Experience) “In 1935, after enduring a three-year ordeal involving the kidnapping and murder of their first born son and the trial of the man accused of committing the crime, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh chose to flee the country that had made them national icons.” Lindbergh, whose Peter Thiel-like battles with the media over issues of privacy were long-standing, confided to a friend that, “We Americans are a primitive people. …Americans seem to have little respect for the law or the rights of others.” The Lindberghs found sanctuary in the English countryside. Two years later, they moved again, this time to a tiny island off the northwest coast of France.
Today Peter Thiel (once known for founding PayPal) is most known as a Trump backer. He’s also known as the man who’s personal vendetta against Gawker Media culminated with the news that the company’s flagship blog, Gawker, will shut down.
Lindbergh would be a Thiel fan today. Thiel like Lindbergh has used his power to fight the media and also has a soft spot for a “strong” leader and for futuristic industrial high tech development with an almost religious commitment to the sort of futuristic dreams that most people grow out of soon after they visit Tomorrowland– one of the many themed lands featured at six Disney theme parks.
For Lindbergh the strong man and guide to a futuristic industrial “Tomorrowland” was Hitler. For Thiel it’s Trump.
Both Lindbergh and Thiel were ill-served by their ideas about history and America. Both men bet against American democracy. Both men saw their country as a mess of decline. Both suffered from the sort of life in a cocoon of celebrity, privilege and personal intelligence that tends to cut one off from clear perception (or even caring) about how one is perceived.
The Lindberghs credited Nazism for a revitalized Germany in 1936. Lindbergh had been asked by the American military attaché in Berlin to report on the state of Germany’s military aviation program. As the PBS piece notes: “While in Germany, Charles and Anne attended the Summer Olympic games as the special guests of Field Marshal Hermann Goering, the head of the German military air force, the Luftwaffe. Lindbergh toured German factories, took the controls of state-of-the-art bombers, and noted the multiplying airfields. He visited Germany twice during the next two years.”
With each visit, he became more impressed with the German military and the German people. He was soon convinced that no other power in Europe could stand up to Germany in the event of war. “The organized vitality of Germany was what most impressed me: the unceasing activity of the people, and the convinced dictatorial direction to create the new factories, airfields, and research laboratories…,” Lindbergh recalled in “Autobiography of Values.” His wife drew similar conclusions. “…I have never in my life been so conscious of such a directed force. It is thrilling when seen manifested in the energy, pride, and morale of the people–especially the young people,” she wrote in “The Flower and the Nettle.” By 1938, the Lindbergh were making plans to move to Berlin…
Or as Thiel, put it speaking at the Republican convention: “When Donald Trump asks us to Make America Great Again, he’s not suggesting a return to the past. He’s running to lead us back to that bright future! Tonight I urge all of my fellow Americans to stand up and vote for Donald Trump.”
Lindbergh admired strength and industrial might and ingenuity. So does Thiel. Both seem to have admired tech know how and industrialization more than they admired the far messier business of democracy.
As Thiel put this at the GOP convention: “It’s hard to remember this, but our government was once high tech, too. When I moved to Cleveland, defense research was laying the foundations for the Internet. The Apollo program was just about to put a man on the moon — and it was Neil Armstrong, from right here in Ohio. The future felt limitless. But today our government is broken. Our nuclear bases still use floppy disks. Our newest fighter jets can’t even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government’s software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all. That is a staggering decline for the country that completed the Manhattan Project. We don’t accept such incompetence in Silicon Valley, and we must not accept it from our government…”
Meanwhile Jerry Falwell Jr in an op-ed for the Washington Post compared Trump to Winston Churchill. Winston would not be pleased. He took a dim view of fascists.
“Thank God,” Falwell wrote, “we now have the opportunity to elect a strong leader, one who is not afraid to call the enemy by its name and to take the battle to that enemy if necessary,” later suggesting that doubling down on the policies Democrats espouse would be “the definition of insanity.”
Falwell went on to describe Trump — with his “kindness, generosity and bold leadership qualities” — as a man who resembles Winston Churchill, who succeeded Chamberlain as prime minister after Hitler reneged on the peace agreement. Churchill went on to be known as the “British bulldog.”
“As Churchill did, Trump possesses the resolve to put his country first and to never give up in a world that is increasingly hostile to our values,” Falwell wrote, calling on all Americans to unite behind the “blue-collar billionaire” and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
As for Paul Ryan…
How does Paul Ryan feel about his Trump endorsement now?
Since Ryan endorsed, Trump has been making more racist attacks against the American-born Hispanic judge who is overseeing a class action lawsuit against Trump University in California, gone after a Gold Star mom… invited his followers to kill Hillary Clinton with a 2nd Amendment “final solution” etc. Trump has doubled and tripled down on the attacks and the cascading lies — “Birther” and racist — that he has been wallowing in ever since he went to court with his dad to defend their company against Nixon of all people for refusing to rent to black people.
Thus history won’t be kind to Thiel, Ryan and Falwell, any more than history has forgotten the Lindbergh flirtation with the Nazis. Thiel, Ryan and Falwell (self-identified winners) have hitched their wagons to the biggest loser of all time. It’s all they will be remembered for. And the same goes for every single one of Trump’s supporters.
As the PBS piece notes, “Germany pushed on into France and began its Blitzkreig bombardment of England, Americans began to alter their isolationist views. One group, however, had no such change of heart. The America First Committee was the most powerful isolationist group in the country. Its 850,000 members came from all professions and backgrounds.”
The AFC was headed by Robert E. Wood, head of Sears Roebuck. Impressed by what they had heard from Charles Lindbergh, the AFC invited him to join their executive committee. Lindbergh accepted the invitation, but insisted on drawing no salary. He also insisted on writing his own speeches and would not submit them for approval. One such speech was given in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 11, 1941. PBS notes:
With his hero status already greatly tarnished by his philosophical and political beliefs, Lindbergh delivered a speech in Des Moines that fully knocked him off his pedestal n the same way that Falwell’s and Theil’s GOP convention speeches will be remembered.
Announcing that it was time to “name names,” Lindbergh decided to identify what he saw as the pressure groups pushing the U.S. into war against Germany. “The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration.” Of the Jews, he went on to say, “Instead of agitating for war, Jews in this country should be opposing it in every way, for they will be the first to feel its consequences. Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.”
The speech was met with outrage. Lindbergh was denounced as an anti-Semite. His mother-in-law and sister-in-law publicly opposed his views. Civic and corporate organizations cut all ties and affiliations with him, just as Silicon Valley is already running away from Thiel and many evangelical leaders are distancing themselves from Falwell, including his own brother.
All debate surrounding U.S. war policy came to an end on December 8, 1941, the day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
The day after the election in November 2016, Americans will begin to try and restore our sense of self-worth post-Trump’s dousing America with his slime not to mention our reputation in the world.
Trump will eventually be excused as an unbalanced sociopath.
Those who aided and abetted his attack on America’s global standing and our own self-image will never be forgiven. As Lindbergh learned– never bet against America.
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Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace
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