Monday, July 20, 2015

"Save the Poles, Save the Poles !!"

In early 1940, German propaganda films about their brutal invasion of Poland were still freely making the rounds of the cinemas of Neutral America.

Poet W.H. Auden, an Englishman Overseas at a time his home was at war, had ventured in one New York movie theatre to see the blond beast close up and personal.

But what really struck him was not the film itself but how the audience - mostly German-Americans - spontaneously began shouting out "Kill the Poles, Kill the Poles !!".

What might have been truly remarkable though would have been to hear ordinary Americans (fore-bearers from any country of origin) spontaneously shout out "Save the Poles, Save the Poles !!".

This was because forty years into the new Century, Victorian notions of charity, sympathy, empathy, chivalry and gallantry were pretty well gone, save only for employing vicariously at fictional films in the cinema.

In 1940 America, cheering the fictional underdog was alright ; fighting overseas to save real life underdogs was decidedly not.

Walter Mitty, I think it is only fair to say, was an avid Isolationist in his public politics, a brave Interventionist only in his wildest daydreams....

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