I’m bordering on click-bait here.
I promise this post does have something to do with politics. It’s just the politics of the 1940’s.
I read a fascinating book called In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. It’s a non-fiction, novelistic approach to history. It centers around the first ambassador to Hitler’s German, William E. Dodd in 1933. It really is pretty interesting to see the politics that play out gradually over the approaching years to WWII.
However, the most fascinating part of the book to me was a small paragraph that popped out around the middle. America is trying to stay out of foreign affairs and Dodd is increasingly worried about Hitler’s control of the government and the direction of Germany. While some think America should denounce Germany and it’s government there are others that are striving and encouraging Dodd to keep relations amiable.
So in the middle of all this there’s this paragraph about a senator from Maryland named Millard E. Tydings. He tried to force Roosevelt’s hand by introducing a Senate resolution that would force Roosevelt to condemn the “discriminations and oppressions imposed by the Reich upon its Jewish citizens”.
So the question is why? I mean why wouldn’t we condemn that?
One of Dodd’s friends writes a “memorandum” on why the resolution failed. That’s what was fascinating to me. I’d put an excerpt below.
“Judge Moore concluded that it could only put Roosevelt “in an embarrassing position” Moore explained: “If he declined to comply with the request, he would be subjected to considerable criticism. On the other hand, if he complied with it he would not only incur the resentment of the German Government, but might be involved in a very acrimonious discussion with that Government which conceivably might, for example, ask him to explain why the negroes of this country do not fully enjoy the right of suffrage; why the lynching of negroes in Senator Tydings’ State and other States is not prevented or severely punished; and how anti-Semitic feeling in the United States, which unfortunately seemed to be growing, is not checked.”
Did you catch that?
We didn’t speak up.
Because it would expose our faults.
If we condemned Germany it would make things very uncomfortable for us at home. Because immediately the response would be.
Things need to change. We need to change.
Can you imagine the President jumpstarting the Civil Rights movement by condemning the discrimination both globally and locally?
It’s easy to throw the grenade of 20/20 hindsight at the politics of the 30’s. But it’s obvious now that inaction was equal to injustice.
Here’s what’s not easy.
Realizing that human nature has a lot to do with my habits and leanings.
I don’t stand for what’s right sometimes because it would make things…uncomfortable.
I can criticize your political party all I want. But as soon as the needle points back my way? Let’s move on to a different subject.
So the question is are there flaws in my life. “Logs in my own eye”. That I refuse to face because they would be too uncomfortable? If I want to be someone who stands for what’s right and for justice than I have to be comfortable humbling myself enough to realize when I’m the source of injustice.
The sad truth is, if I’m unable to remove the “log from my own eye”, let alone talk about them, I’ll never truly be able to help my brother.