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Sins of the Father

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis / WashingtonDispatch.com
October 22, 2003

A widely circulated rumor that has to date miraculously not been picked up by one of the "major" news networks or the New York Times declares that financial institutions of which President Bush's grandfathers were part had dealings with Nazi sympathizers prior to World War II. The reason it's surprising that the story hasn't been more widely publicized is that one of the tactics the Angry Left consistently pulls out of its bag of dirty tricks is what can be called the sins-of-the-father gambit.

The tactic consists, very simply, of dredging up everything from remote family fiascos and scandals to ancestral business and political ties and using them to try to taint a contemporary opposition politician or public figure. The important thing for the Left is to visit upon opposition public figures the sins of their fathers — whether or not those sins have any relevance, or even validity — for the purpose of letting the public know what unsavory roots the current generation of political conservatives has.

In contravention of the facts, liberals attempted, for instance, to brand Arnold Schwarzenegger a fascist sympathizer because his father, a police officer, had associations with Hitler's minions. And because George W. Bush's ancestors in the Bush and Walker families are purported to have had business dealings with known Nazi sympathizers, our President must therefore be a Nazi himself. Guilt by association is the modus operandi of the Left, whether or not there's proof of any association at all. The generation in which the President's father, George Herbert Walker Bush, came of age, roughly from the years 1925 to 1950, contains the seeds of the serious sins-of-the-father theme that is even now trotted out to vilify his son.

It was during the second quarter of the twentieth century, as the communist regime of Joseph Stalin consolidated power in Russia and fascism gained ascendancy in Germany under Adolf Hitler, that some fundamental battle lines were drawn. Hitler's Fascist regime, though hardly less brutal and oppressive than Stalin's Communists, was anti-communist to the core. Many Americans, including some highly successful and influential businessmen and politicians, were also vehemently anti-Communist. What emerged was an uneasy alliance between American and German-Fascist business interests. America provided a significant amount of the capital for rebuilding post-WWI Germany.

It is important, however, to examine what it means to have been dealing with the Fascists in Germany rather than, for instance, the Communists in the Soviet Union. First, when American financiers, including President Bush's grandfathers, began making deals to help in the reconstruction of Germany during the 1920s, Hitler's Fascist Party was not even established as a legitimate political force. By 1928, Hitler's Fascists had only 12 of the 491 total seats in the Reichstag, the German parliament. Even after he joined forces with the German National Party in 1929, Hitler controlled less than 20 percent of the seats. And if the Left would fault American businessmen for doing business with the Nazis during the 1930s, the questions must be asked, "What should those businessmen have been able to foresee about Hitler's rise to power that political leaders around the world were unable to see?" and "If the world continued to appease Hitler, why would businessmen be held to a different standard?"

A further question remains: "How could American businessmen have seriously considered the alternative of dealing with the Soviet Communists?" Because of the disastrous Five-Year Plan implemented in the late 1920s by Josef Stalin, Russia's credit rating was nonexistent. Stalin's killing and displacement to remote labor camps of more than 10 million kulaks — the successful entrepreneurial peasant farmers who had been rebuilding Russia's ruined agriculture during Lenin's New Economic Program of the mid-1920s — had resulted, by the early 1930s, in widespread and disastrous food shortages. The world's business community, looking at the horrible famine and political turmoil in the Soviet Union, demanded that the Soviets pay in advance for equipment and expertise by exporting agricultural products. It was precisely these products which Stalin's extermination of Russia's peasant farmers had depleted to nearly nothing.

But even if that were not the case, how could businessmen even think of investing in a country (the Soviet Union) which was in the process of nationalizing its agricultural and industrial production and coming down with brutally repressive measures against anyone or any class of people who showed the slightest initiative or business savvy? To be dealing with the Germans during the 1920s and '30s, then, meant that you had enough business acumen to know that there was at least the possibility to recoup your investment in a capitalist economy. That Hitler would become a monster on the order of Stalin was not widely predicted prior to the outbreak of World War II.

One of the points to be taken from this is that, while in the years leading up to World War II fascism and communism seemed to be diametrically opposed, the one on the far "right" of the political scale, the other on the far "left," in fact World War II revealed both fascism and communism to be political systems which inevitably relied on brutal dictatorships to be implemented, and that both were to be abhorred by freedom-loving people everywhere. During the 1960s the word "fascist" became codified in the Left's lexicon to describe anyone who didn't jump on board the socialist/communist bandwagon. Leftists used "fascist" to describe anyone who wouldn't knuckle under to their version of a "dictatorship of the proletariat," in the process obscuring the fact that the tactics associated with the very politics for which they stood were rapidly becoming indistinguishable from those of their fascist counterparts.

The Left, in its corrupt wisdom, seems sincerely to want to believe that the reduction of societies to subsistence living that communist and fascist regimes alike invariably accomplish will somehow bring about the apotheosis of the planet, that the reestablishment of totalitarian regimes will result in the conversion of Earth from a place where the powerful vie for control into a place where humans, stripped of the fundamental human urges to compete and thrive, will live in a kind of perverse harmony in which races and cultures intermingle in such a way as to create a final, whimpering, submissive iteration of the "human" species.

That the overseers of this benign and tamed human race will likely be unregenerate humans on the order of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Bill Clinton (to name only a few of the murderous and/or rapacious thugs the Left has seen fit to support, either directly or indirectly) seems to escape the proponents of a liberal/leftist future.

Our President is one of the few world leaders to remain staunchly and steadfastly on the side of universal human and spiritual rights. If their ancestors found themselves dealing with a fascist regime, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush have more than redeemed the family name. While the term "fascist" is still used by liberals today to describe anyone they see as threatening their totalitarian politics, it is rather to themselves that they should look if they truly seek to rid the world of fascists. Fascism is not dead, it's just migrated leftward, where it occupies a place of honor among the tactics and principles left liberals use to gain and hold political power.

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