Thursday, May 10, 2007

FDR Lied and People Died!

While doing research for my new book, Swords into Ploughshares (which is about the contribution of Caltech during WWII), I came across the history of the beginnings of WWII. Isolationists tried very hard to keep us out of the war. So did some Communists, for their own reasons. But then Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and other places, and then Germany also declared war, so we had no choice but to stand and fight. Very few isolationists in Congress held out for peace.

We had not been in the war very long before unhappy people began circulating rumors that Franklin D. Roosevelt knew the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, and just let it happen so he could get us into the war. They dreamed up worse theories that that, but the one that stuck was the one about knowing what the Japanese were up to. As soon as the war was over and Roosevelt was dead, the rumors arose again.

Books were published about Roosevelt’s supposed evil plan. Those were the days when, if something were put into print, it was supposed to be true, so many people believed it. Nowadays, we are used to seeing all kind of junk in print and on the Internet, but in 1946, such books had more credence.

I was young at the beginning of WWII and not a Roosevelt fan, but intuitively I knew the rumors were baseless. They proved to be so; or at least no one was able, in the past sixty years, to prove the rumors were true. Roosevelt had plenty of enemies in his Democrat party and in the Republican party, so there was no end to the efforts of many people to try to convict Roosevelt of some kind of perfidy.

If all this sounds familiar, so be it. You can hardly find a period in which the same rumors have not been resurrected and applied. Tongues will always wag, and some people will believe anything.

But if you have lived a while, such accusations become tiresome.

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