Q: Tell me, who was Charles Lindbergh?|
AS: Charles Lindbergh I suppose was one of the American heroes, at least for a
good part of his life, one of the American heroes of the 20th Century. He came
out of Minnesota, his father was a politician. Lindbergh as a young man,
accompanied his father in some of the campaigns. His father was a great
opponent of American entry into the First World War, wrote a book about it,
campaigned against it, and in the course of that, he took very unpopular
positions. He was mobbed. Once he was almost lynched. Young Lindbergh, when
he was about sixteen years old, drove him around in a battered old car-- saw
quite a lot of that. I suppose that experience of seeing his father booed and
pursued by angry people raised doubts in his mind from an early age about the
virtues of war and the virtues of democracy.
He diverged from his father. His father came out of the populist
tradition. He was very much concerned with the machinations of the
international bankers. He was afraid that the great net of international
finance was driving us into war. I suppose that Lindbergh's own concern about
the Jews in a sense was derivative because, for many people around the turn of
the century, when they thought of international bankers they really meant
Jewish international bankers. So again there may have been some conditioning
of that sort. But Lindbergh on the whole was not interested particularly in
politics. He certainly was not opposed to rich people or to bankers. And he
did pride himself on what he regarded as his scientific objectivity, this
dispassionateness with which he thought he approached problems of war and
Q: It's a great contrast to C. A. Lindbergh who, in a way, was the great
stump speaker, the fiery orator, and yet a pretty cold and taciturn man
personally. But the two did have real differences, didn't they?
AS: Well, they were different. Both Lindberghs were very contained. As you
say the elder Lindbergh was a very effective stump speaker. Now the younger
Lindbergh, in his way, became a very effective stump speaker and those few
years of his life he devoted to stump speaking. But his arguments against
entering the war were very different than the arguments his father made against
entering The First World War.
Q: He's such a mysterious figure in that regard. He's so filled with
contradictions. You know he obviously did stunts that had to do with
attracting press attention for example, but also professed this tremendous need
AS: On the other hand I think Lindbergh really felt, rather deeply, that
democracy was a very doubtful thing. He saw what it had done to his father.
He then had the frightful incident of the kidnapping of his son, and the murder
of his son. He was, thereafter, harried by the press. His privacy was under
constant assault. I think one thing that attracted him is quite clear. One
thing that attracted him about Nazi Germany was the press knew its place and he
knew he could go to Nazi Germany without having that kind of incessant and
intolerable inquisition and surveillance which he found in the United States.
He didn't much like the free press. He had doubts about popular
democracy. He made a friendship in the 1930s with the French biologist Alexis
Carrel who was a great believer in government by elites. And all this made him
skeptical, reserved about democracy, and somewhat susceptible to authoritarian
forms of government.
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