Arthur Schlesinger on: Charles Lindbergh's Heroism
Q: Was Charles Lindbergh a hero?
AS: Well I don't know what a hero is. I think that he was a very brave man as
shown by his flight across the Atlantic. I don't know, I think he was a man
who very much misconceived the nature of the great struggle of the 20th
Century, which was the struggle between democracy and totalitarianism. He did
not really believe in democracy, didn't like it very much was rather neutral as
to which side would win. In fact he said, "we are at the end of an old era and
at the beginning of a new one." He's not a hero in my book.
Q: Do you think he paid a price for his fame?
AS: I think he paid a price for his mistakes. No. I think he was rather
rapidly forgiven. I think the course which he urged upon the United States
would have been a very dangerous course, dangerous to our national security,
dangerous to the world. But, I think, people forgot it rather quickly. Perhaps
they figured that aviators, like movie stars, can't be expected to understand
politics. I think Lindbergh, who was a man of invincible confidence in his own
rectitude and infallibility. Never wavered in the conviction that he had been
right. But he went on to other things. The world went on to other things. By
the 1950s, the Des Moines speech, his isolationism, and his opposition to aid
to Britain who was standing alone against Hitler, all that was forgotten.