Saturday, June 10, 2017
D-Day and More on Woodrow Wilson and Race - Norm in The WAVE
Published June 9, 2017
D-Day and More on Woodrow Wilson and Race
By Norm Scott
June 6, 2017
I am watching all the stories on the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy. We got married – the invasion of Norman --- on the 27th anniversary, so D-Day has a double meaning.
Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead, according to Wikipedia. One of the myths about D-Day was that it was an American invasion when in fact it was Britain which took the lead, even though the supreme commander was Dwight Eisenhower. But everyone recognizes it was our entrance in the war, dragged kicking and screaming out of an isolationist-minded America, that played the ultimate difference.
Western Europe was pretty much under the control of Germany for four years, from May 1940 through June 6, 1944. That’s a long time in warfare. The allies, theoretically could have put a priority on the invasion earlier but first invaded North Africa and then Italy at Anzio where they had to fight up the boot of Italy. The Anzio invasion is not generally considered well-planned or a success.
The Soviet Union had made a deal with Hitler in August 1939, which secured Hitler’s eastern front and allowed him to conquer the west, until Hitler attacked Russia in June 1941. Stalin turned into our ally, though not trusted by many. The Soviets suffered initial devastation. One week into the German invasion, 150,000 Soviet soldiers were either dead or wounded. By October 1941, two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought us into the war, three million Soviet soldiers were prisoners of war. And then came the winter in Russia, which stopped Napoleon 150 years before. And bogged down the German army.
The turning point of the war is viewed by many historians as not D-Day but the Battle of Stalingrad, which raged from the winter of 1942 through February 1943. Wikipedia: “It is often regarded as one of the single largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.7–2 million wounded, killed or captured) battles in the history of warfare. German forces never regained the initiative in the East and withdrew a vast military force from the West to replace their losses.” Then the Soviets began to push the Germans back, which further caused Hitler to weaken the western front. Stalinists often claim that it was the Soviet sacrifices that made Normandy possible. They also argue that the allies on the west should have made the invasion of Europe a higher priority than North Africa or Italy and that would have relieved the pressure on the eastern front and ended the war sooner. There are also claims that some people in the west were perfectly happy to see Stalin and Hitler wipe each other out. Fear of Stalin and his intentions – see the Cold War -- may have played a role in the decision making, but these controversies are what make history so much fun.
Speaking of controversies, Sharon Rutman was back last week with a critique of my comments on the racism of President Woodrow Wilson, excusing it with “America in 1916 was a very different country. Segregation and institutionalized racism were deeply entrenched in every segment of American life long before …Wilson moved into the White House.” I would say that segregation and institutionalized racism are still entrenched. Take a look at the tale of two cities in Rockaway.
In fact in 1912 when Wilson was elected, one major are where segregation had been balanced was in the federal bureaucracy, which in the fifty years since the Civil War had come to be seen as (then) model of integration in this country.
What Sharon misses was the major crime of racism committed by Wilson, who was an avowed racist: ordering the segregation of the federal bureaucracy, destroying the careers of thousands of accomplished black civil servants, a situation which lasted through the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Wilson sent a signal, similar to our current president, that racism was OK. (The movie “Hidden Figures” shows Wilson’s racist legacy.)
Sharon also doesn’t seem familiar with the full facts surrounding WWI and the role a Wilson initiated PR campaign distorted facts to pull the American public into the war. One of the reasons the Lusitania blew up with such force and sank so quickly was that it was loaded with arms and Germany had warned people that these munitions ships were a legitimate target. I urge Sharon to take a look at the magnificent PBS documentary, The Great War, now streaming at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/great-war.
Sharon also seems hung up on how Wilson couldn’t have been a racist since he appointed a Jew to the Supreme Court. I hate to inform Sharon, but we Jews are not black and the discrimination faced by Jews and Blacks have been a very different experience. Jews have a long history of discrimination in this country, as have so many other ethnic groups – the Irish and Italians, the Asians, etc. But Jews have not been enslaved since Matzoth was discovered.
I believe that once we get into identity politics – my group’s discrimination was worse than yours, we enter a danger zone, which often leads to the dismissal of what others face. The challenge I always issue to people on the race issue is this: You and a black friend walk into a store. Which one of you is more likely to be followed, challenged, etc?
Norm blogs at ednotesonline.org