Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Axis Sally and Gary Trudeau

Previous Axis Sally posts:

here and
here and here.

Axis Sally was an American citizen who was prosecuted and spent 12 years in prison following WWII because she made radio broadcasts in favor of Nazi Germany:
Perhaps Sally's most famous broadcast, and the one that would eventually get her convicted of treason, was a play titled Vision of Invasion that went out over the airwaves on May 11, 1944. It was beamed to American troops in England awaiting the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as well as to the home folks in America. Gillars played the role of an American mother who dreamed that her soldier son, a member of the invasion forces, died aboard a burning ship in the attempt to cross the English Channel. The play had a realistic quality to it, sound effects simulating the moans and cries of the wounded as they were raked with gunfire from the beaches. Over the battle action sound effects, an announcer's voice intoned, "The D of D-Day stands for doom... disaster... death... defeat... Dunkerque or Dieppe." Adelbert Houben, a high official of the German Broadcasting Service, would testify at Axis Sally's trial that her broadcast was intended to prevent the invasion by frightening the Americans with grisly forecasts of staggering casualties.
H/T WWII Magazine

Compare the crime for which Sally spent years in prison with more recent cartoons of Gary Trudeau. Gary Trudeau ran a series of Doonesbury cartoons just prior to the start of the first Gulf war in January, 1991, in which he depicted American soldiers about to go into battle. In this series, the fictional soldiers discussed the upcoming battle scene and how our allies from other countries would turn and run at the first sign of gunfire, leaving the Americans alone on the battlefield. His prediction turned out to be false, but is there any doubt that his cartoon, like Sally's broadcast, "was intended to prevent the invasion by frightening the Americans with grisly forecasts of staggering casualties"?

Again, I am not suggesting that we actually prosecute the modern day Sally's, but we can at least properly categorize them. We have to change the way we think about them. They are not mere political opponents. They oppose not merely our viewpoints, but our very survival. But if we learn to think of them as they really are, as we thought of Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose, they will lose their ability to influence American political thought.

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