Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Well-Nye Time

A post this past weekend — Good War Revisionism — prompted reader Pints in NYC to offer what might be called some "Great War revisionism" and rightly comment that there is "not necessarily a 'natural' aversion to critical revision in American history," reminding us, "The Congressional Nye Commission (Committee), which investigated America's unnecessary involvement in WWI, occurred right away following the Great War." He writes, "Josh, I'd love for you to start posting on the Nye Commission!" I told him that "I take requests" so here goes.

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Senator Gerald Nye, pictured above, "Republican and supporter of WWII-era isolationism," is a towering figure familiar to readers of Bill Kauffman's America First!: Its History, Culture, and Politics, Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism.

Wikipedia tells us that as a journalist, he was "a supporter of the agrarian reform movement," wrote "editorials lambasted big government and big business," and "took the side of the struggling farmers." Upon election, Senator "Nye and his young family moved to Washington in 1925. Nye's youth and lack of sophistication were the talk of the town. He had a bowl haircut that was ridiculed." This, of course, is all to his credit.

The Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry, or Nye Committee, "studied the causes of United States' involvement in World War I" and "was a significant factor in heightening public and political support for neutrality in the early stages of World War II."

The U.S. Senate's website on the committee, "Merchants of Death", informs us that the body "cut off committee funding after Chairman Nye blundered [sic] into an attack on the late Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Nye suggested that Wilson had withheld essential information from Congress as it considered a declaration of war. Democratic leaders, including Appropriations Committee Chairman Carter Glass of Virginia, unleashed a furious response against Nye for 'dirtdaubing the sepulcher of Woodrow Wilson.'" ([Neo-]Conservapedia takes an equally unfavorable view of Nye Committee.)

Wikipedia also informs us that "Nye was instrumental in the development and adoption of the Neutrality Acts that were passed between 1935 and 1937" and that "[t]o mobilize antiwar sentiments, he helped establish the America First Committee."

"In 1941, Nye accused Hollywood of attempting to 'drug the reason of the American people,' and 'rouse war fever'" and "on the evening of December 7, 1941, Nye addressed an America First meeting in Pittsburgh, and was quoted as saying, 'this was just what Britain had planned for us' and that 'we have been maneuvered into this by the President.'"

Our Gothamite correspondent wondered, "Imagine if our schools taught about the Nye Committee? Might be one step towards reclaiming the Republic." Hear, hear! We know we were misled into a costly Mesopotamian misadventure. It's well-nigh time another Nye stepped forward.

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