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Juan Cole Channels Charles Lindbergh

As I noted yesterday, Juan Cole has a typically conspiratorial theory for explaining why congressmen ignore pro-Palestinian activists: in short, rich pro-Israel lobbyists wickedly buy them off. His solution? Establish an alternative lobbying group, which would have the following purpose:

It would direct sympathetic PACs to donate money in close races to anti-war candidates, and to defend representatives and senators who dared buck the Israel lobbies from reprisals. It would also try to unseat hawks like Joe Lieberman and Saxby Chambliss.

Never shy about wrapping himself in the flag, Cole gives this lobbying group a typically patriotic name: the “For America Political Action Committee.” But oddly, Cole tucks a somewhat different name for this group into the following URL for his blog post:

http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/only-america-first-pac-can-stop-madness.html

The “America First” PAC? Perhaps subconsciously, Cole has invoked Charles Lindbergh, who prominently protested fighting the Nazis under an organization with the exact same name. And, much like Cole has done for years on his blog, Lindbergh used the America First Committee to accuse Jewish groups of pushing the United States into World War II for exclusively Jewish interests. Here’s an excerpt from a speech that Lindbergh delivered in September 1941:

No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.

And here’s a standard post from Cole over sixty years later, similarly blaming Jews – whom he calls “Likudniks” – for sparking international rifts to benefit tribal interests:

There are lots of reasons for which the Likudniks would like to make bad blood between the US and France and Russia in particular. France is no longer a knee-jerk supporter of Israeli militarism and expansionism. … Likewise, Russia has a more balanced view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. So, it may be that the powerful Likudniks inside the US government are deliberately engineering a diplomatic rift in NATO, so as to ensure that Paris and Moscow cannot position themselves to influence Washington’s position (usually supine) toward Sharon’s excesses.

Normally, I would avoid comparing contemporary critics of Israel and pro-Nazi Americans of the 1940s. But, in this case, Cole has made the comparison unavoidable. Remember: Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan, and surely knows the details of Charles Lindbergh’s political interests. In turn, by referring to his anti-Israel lobby as the “America First PAC,” Cole has let loose one mighty Freudian slip.

(Special thanks to frequent CONTENTIONS commenter “Joe” for the heads up.)



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