Released in January 1943, when the most important battle of the war, the battle of Stalingrad, was still raging, with Normandy still a year and a half in the future, and the tide not yet turned against Hitler’s war machine. Most of Europe and North Africa was under the jackboot of Nazi tyranny. Many of the actors in the scene were actual refugees who had fled from the Nazis, so the emotions were real. This celluloid moment may capture the spirit of hope and resistance better than any other. It is a true testament to the power of movies.
In real life Jean Moulin, murdered by the Gestapo in 1943, became the symbol of the French Resistance.
NHK Newsroom Tokyo, has broken a story about the United States’ operation of a secret experimental nuclear reactor in South Vietnam during the war. By itself this revelation is big enough news, but it turns out there is more, much more. According to the story, which includes an interview with a mission participant, in the waning days of the war Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, ordered the site dismantled in a frantic attempt to keep the technology out of communist hands. Here is the big news: in the event of failure, Kissinger allegedly ordered that the radioactive core be blown up as a last-ditch measure!
Yesterday we remembered the bloody Sunday march on Selma (March 7, 1965). By Monday morning LBJ was knee-deep in a political confrontation of epic proportions. His recorded phone conversations that day show that he was more upset with MLK than with Wallace. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, with much less fanfare, his Marines were landing on Red Beach 2 near Da Nang in South Vietnam, marking the beginning of what the Vietnamese call the “American War.” That was March 8, 1965. The next day LBJ authorized the use of Napalm. Before the year was out he would be “waist deep in the big muddy.” Quite a weekend.
Note: six years later, on March 8, 1971, anti-war protesters broke into a Media, Pennsylvania FBI office and stole a trove of classified documents that revealed the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program). The covert program was aimed at spying on, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations, primarily the anti-Vietnam War movement. One of the principal players in the COINTELPRO story was one Mark Felt, later revealed as “Deep Throat” in the Watergate Scandal:
Richard Nixon played upon the growing resentments of “regular Joes” across the country. He defined this target audience as a great “silent majority,” and rallied them to his cause by railing against the elites, not the least of which were anti-war college students and professors with draft deferments. Nixon cheered in 1970 when construction workers brutally attacked peace protesters in New York. “Thank God for the hard hats!” he said. He was so successful that he rode his silent majority to electoral victories in 1968 and again in 1972.
Nixon’s political and social maneuvering was masterful, Machiavelli would have been impressed. His scheming led to wins in two presidential elections but in so doing he created a deep rift in American society that persists to this day, polarizing the United States. But Nixon didn’t dream all of these tactics up on his own. He didn’t have to look far to find the prototype for his winning strategy. It was right there in front of him, devised by another California Republican, a lesser known personality to the nation at the time, but that would change….