Learn what history would teach us

1940 by Susan Dunn

I have recently finished reading a book by Susan Dunn titled “1940.” It’s basically about political events occurring in the year before Franklin Roosevelt ran for a third term. Much of the book is about attitudes concerning Nazi Germany’s conquest of Europe and the concerns of Americans about getting in – or staying out of – the conflict. Though I have read quite a bit from that historical period, it is still somewhat shocking to revisit the history of how involved Germany was in trying to influence American opinion and politics. In fact, Germany had a well-financed operation going in the U.S. that was regularly supplying what we now call “fake news” and producing opinion pieces concerning why America should join with Germany, rather than risk getting on the wrong side of the European conflict.

The German efforts to influence public opinion in America were successful with more of our population than one would think. Particularly, at the time, they were quite successful with the conservative element of Congress. There were several members of Congress, and many super wealthy individuals, who openly advocated that a totalitarian, or fascist style of government, should be considered. The argument was that it would be more efficient and better able to be managed than democracy with all its problems and faults. The efforts were so successful that our governmental leaders were conflicted over the issue and could not adequately prepare for the eventuality of being drawn into the worldwide conflict. This was true to the point that when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and our nation was forced to join the war against Germany and Japan, it found America not really ready to defend democracy in the world.

Harry Truman, whom I believe to be one of the wisest presidents to ever serve, advocated that anyone who would be a true leader in government should be well versed in history. Truman’s theory was that in times of serious conflict and pressure, humans would act pretty much the same way given the similar circumstances. Truman’s lessons should be heeded today.

If you believe our law enforcement, security services or CIA, there is little doubt that Russia has, in fact, taken a heavy hand in the effort to influence the outcome of our most recent presidential election. Unfortunately, we have a president unwilling to make preparations to defend against such future conduct on the part of Russia or some other nation. Also, unfortunately, too many of our current national leaders do not appear to believe the Russian threat is either real or adequate to cause us real harm by interfering with the democratic process we hold so dear.

Alexander Hamilton, who probably gave as much intellectual consideration to our form of government as any of our founders, once said that the first key to undoing a democracy is to undermine it by attacking the free press. Both he and Jefferson emphasized the importance of a legitimate and open free press as being essential to a successful democratic government. We should all encourage our elected officials, particularly those serving at the national level, to begin to arm against the prospect of cyber warfare and attack on our press.

While our president seems to want to join the fray against media by using social platforms, he ignores the fact that Russia has planted thousands of false and fictitious reports aimed at those with whom he disagrees. We now know, for example, that the social media story that became somewhat viral during the recent election accusing Hilary Clinton of running a child pornography operation out of a pizza parlor, was not only fiction, but fiction authored by agents hired by Russia.

It’s time we all realize we are, in fact, under attack to some degree by not only Russia but other nations who deplore the freedom brought by democracy. We should not only individually fight back by educating ourselves thoroughly as to domestic happenings, but also stay abreast of international conflicts and efforts to influence us.

Again, as I have said many times, ignorance is the greatest enemy of democracy. We can all become fighters to maintain our freedoms by simply educating ourselves and seeing that future generations have the opportunity to be well educated as to the virtues and benefits we enjoy under our Constitution.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas, including many regarding consumer safety. Email cap1934 [at] aol [dot] com.