Memorial Day without the Indy 500 means that my second major holiday of the year (following Opening Day) has been deferred because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Another sure staple of the day is a profusion of war movies from Turner Classic Movies and others. It is fitting and proper to recognize the sacrifice others have made to ensure the preservation of our republic. (The playing of “Taps” always offers just that sober reminder to the hordes at Speedway.)
Recently, I had the sad revelation that the rise of Trumpista fascism in this country demands a fresh look at some favorite war movies. Ideologically, Trump’s klanazi white supremacist base base should not be rooting for the All-American battalions, with which moviemakers point out the diversity of our great melting pot.
These “fine folks” and “good people” embrace the rotten nazi rot that enslaved and murdered millions.
In pre-war movies, today’s nazis have to be rooting for the sharpshooter in The Moral Storm to gun down Margaret Sullavan to prevent her skiing escape from the ideology that had already killed her professor father in a concentration camp.
Casablanca? Major Strasser is their hero. Get that Victor Laszlo back to the concentration camp where he belongs. He’s one of those inferior Slavic Czechs. That Richard Blaine fella (“Are my eyes really brown?”) also has a history of fighting fascism. Thoroughly dangerous.
In Edge of Darkness (1943), the old swashbuckler Errol Flynn leads Norway resistance fighters, who must be too ignorant to realize their Nordic racial superiority – under the guidance of the original Quisling and his Nazi bosses.
Flynn returned the next year in Uncertain Glory as a “French playboy (who) gets serious when his country is threatened during World War II.” When he could have collaborated?
A couple films not normally included in WWII movie rotations, but war-related, also reveal the depths of evil in our klanazi neighbors. These anti-Semites would be rooting against Anne Frank’s survival and wishing the Gestapo could get its hands on Schindler’s List. Ignorance produces fear, which produces hatred.
(This is the place to point out that two mothers of four of the five children of the president are Slavs themselves and that his favorite daughter and her children would be in the next boxcar to Auschwitz. Trump’s reasoning skills reflect the ignorance inherent in bigotry.)
The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan are all affronts to bogus Aryan superiority. How can the genocide and ethnic cleansing at the heart of white supremacy proceed with John Wayne and Tom Hanks breaching the impenetrable Atlantic Wall created by German technological genius?
The Battle of the Bulge and Battle Cry start off to the liking of our fascist neighbors. A surprise German attack turns back the Allied advance on the Fatherland, and breaks toward the coast, committing the massacre at Malmedy along the way.
(This happened 11 months after the slaughter of 50 of the POW’s who escaped during the breakout that inspired The Great Escape. No Hogan’s Heroes nonsense here – cold-blooded nazi murder.)
But, the “battered bastards of Bastogne” and other American airborne, infantry and tankers (thanks, Dad) stopped that advance. And, when the skies cleared for our flyers, they pushed back the “bulge” and put an end to the “thousand-year reich” and the 12 years of horrors it produced in the name of an ideology incompatible with American values – and yet somehow front and center with today’s Republicans.
Another war movie featured on TCM over the weekend was Cornered, in which “a World War II veteran hunts down the Nazi collaborators who killed his wife.” Nazi collaborators has a too familiar ring to it today, with our president repeatedly encouraging present-day white supremacists and avowed klansmen and nazis. (Just last week he praised “the bloodlines” of Henry Ford, a virulent anti-Semite and supporter of Adolf Hitler, who “gave (Ford) the highest nazi medal for foreigners,” according to Bend the Arc: Jewish Action.)
We were the good guys back then, fighting to free the world from tyranny and terror. Our movies reflected our beliefs. I think I’ll keep rooting for the Greatest Generation and what they stood for when America was proving its greatness.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)