In his inauguration speech last week, President Trump stated "“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.” "America First" is the rallying cry of the Trump Administration, and for students of history it recalls an ugly chapter in American history. The America First Committee was formed in 1939 to keep the US out of the war in Europe. Like Trump's presidential campaign the original America First movement was isolationist and centered in mid-west. Like Trump and his followers, the leaders expressed admiration for a dictator - then Adolf Hitler, today Vladimir Putin. Like Trump's campaign, the America First movement was energized by racism and - most notably - anti-Semitism. The movement was led by Charles Lindbergh, who, in his speeches railed against the Jews:
Lindbergh made his infamous speech at an America First rally in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1941. After charging that President Roosevelt had manufactured "incidents" to propel the country into war, Lindbergh proceeded to blurt out his true thoughts. "The British and the Jewish races," he declared, "for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war." The nation's enemy was an internal one, a Jewish one. "Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government." Lindbergh's unambiguous message was that Jews living in the United States constituted a wealthy, influential, conspiratorial foreign "race" that had seized "our" media and infiltrated "our" political institutions. They were the alien out-group, hostile to "us."
“It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary President like Charles Lindbergh than an actual President like Donald Trump. Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist. The relevant book about Trump’s American forebear is Herman Melville’s ‘The Confidence-Man,’ the darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel—Melville’s last—that could just as well have been called ‘The Art of the Scam.’