America / War / World War II

“We entered the war against Germany in 1941, but not because they were Nazis…”

We entered the war against Germany in 1941, but not because they were Nazis. We did so because the Japanese had attacked us at Pearl Harbor, and in response, Congress declared war on the Empire. In a rare case of keeping his promise, Hitler abided by his mutual defense pact and declared war on the United States. So we entered the war against him.

This was not an ideological war. Many Americans sympathized with the ideology of the Nazi Party. Some, such as Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford, are in our pantheon of heroes. Eugenicism, racism, anti-Semitism—these were all commonplace in 1930s America.

And after the war, we didn’t purge the Nazis. Sure, we had the Nuremberg Trials, but that only took on the worst of the worst, those who had slaughtered millions. The rest? Well, some, like Wernher von Braun, were brought over to work on our space program.

And racism? Anti-Semitism? White supremacy? These continued unabated for many more decades. One need only look at the Southern backlash to Brown v. Board of Education.

None of this is to diminish the valor and heroism of the Greatest Generation. Nor is it to deny the great evil Nazi ideology is. My great-grandparents were murdered by the ideological forefathers of those who rioted at Charlottesville. But let’s not engage in ahistoricism to make the point that these savages are scum. We didn’t go to war against the Nazis in World War II. We went to war against the Axis Powers.

Dovie Eisner, Facebook post (14 August 2017) [https://www.facebook.com/edovie91/posts/10207999414622816]