I wish I could begin this by kvelling that I had been watching Saturday morning TV with my grandkids but I don't have any which is a tale in itself but let us not wander over purposeless terrain as even if I were blessed to had had grandchildren I wouldn't be
There must be a couple of hundred stations on my cable box to choose from and for me as it must for so many of my fellow altecockers there is nothing more enjoyable than to be sitting in a comfy chair with (if its morning) a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the world's greatest invention- the remote - in the other. Of course in the evening and you're still sitting there a properly chilled martini very dry and with one olive is the required hold but we're getting ahead of ourselves; as it is I'm sitting with a cup of coffee (black no sugar- I have given up the stuff in the cause of a healthier me and much to my surprise it hasn't -outwardly, at least, done a thing for me- but still in all I know its for the best, but, c'mon, no one lives forever ) this saturday morning after New Year's waiting for the cable clock-always reliable- to blink to 10 for that is the hour the Melissa Harris-Perry program starts and the only reason to be up at that hour on a Saturday morning -otherwise there is no excuse to miss this remarkable woman's show.
Checking out "the guide" with the trusty remote during the commercial breaks of which there are more and more - even on this cable channel (go figure)- have they really lost sponsors?- TV now is all a multi-streaming commercialized synchronicity-we can no longer switch to another ballgame during timeouts or inning changes as the other game you are switching to is also in a commercial break (due to an exactly timed time-out or inning ending double-play? amazing). Any sport will do. They know when we're coming. So as I'm scrolling through the- for me, hard to read TV guide/schedule something catches my limited attention on this Saturday morning listed on CBS at the same time as the Melissa Harris-Perry show starts. The title seems to be glaring mockingly at me as it starts "The Henry Ford..."
Saturday morning TV in America and CBS - a network and a long established iconic symbol of American telecommunication- it was even referred to as the Tiffany Network - although how anyone associated with Arthur Godfrey for so long could be called "tiffany' is beyond me - (Now please don't send me letters saying I'm being unfair and what about the courageous "Murrow" boys and Cronkite's "passion" and Kate Smith and The Cosby Show and Archie Bunker and Kojak and MASH, for chrissakes, and the Cosby Show- oh, I said that) in light of all it has achieved in the past 88(?) years airs a program ( for young teens? - personally, I didn't know any teen-age friend who watched Saturday morning TV but let us not dwell on my biography-) called HENRY FORD'S INNOVATION NATION- direct from the man's museum in Dearborn? and hosted by a Jerry Lewis-like avatar sans the Brylcreem named Mo-
-"Welcome to the place where you discover your potential through America's history"-
which is too good a punchline not to let pass ( and I'm sure most of my loyal reader(s) know what is coming next). Say what you will about Edsel's dad his many admirers and heirs have made sure his legacy can live on without too much fear that "history" will treat him unkindly- I mean, c'mon, Mo is standing in an earlier American bucolic setting of what appears to be lovely barns and forges? and what must be an very early Ford tiller-steering contraption-very quaint- and telling the young'uns all about car safety gadgets that will help us all become smarter drivers - but, Mo dare not mention to the "innovation nation" that Henry Ford once averred that, "History is more or less the bunk"; that he stated this during the time he was suing the Chicago Tribune in a million-dollar libel suit ( which among other aspects included the newspaper calling Henry an "ignorant anarchist" for his position on the so-called border disputes with Mexico - sometime during and after the first world war- which in retrospect seem rather tame and even progressive but nevertheless they had poor Henry on the stand saying some disparaging remarks about Mexicans (although he never referred to them in such Trumpian terms) and the Tribune's lawyer rather contemptuously exhibited Henry's almost imperious ignorance of fifth grade American history, according to historian Neil Baldwin he was close when asked the dates of the Revolutionary War. He answered, "1812?". The man had plenty of other things on his mind as he was about to start his singular crusade to enlighten the American public on The International Jew in the pages of his recently acquired Dearborn Independent,
which every week for the next seven years would publish the notorious antisemitic tract known as the protocols of the elders of zion, an ugly and as it turned out a fantastical fatal libel against the Jewish people, in the words of another historian, it was a "warrant for genocide". The fact that it was at the very core of the Nazi ideology and program should have been the end of it, but the printed hate lives on as a required text in too many Arab nations today and in others and is readily available at big discounts thanks to another newspaper owner, Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Dr. Baldwin reminds us that Hannah Arendt in the "Anti-Semitism volume of her Origins of Totalitarianism cautioned that an ideology
"which has to persuade and mobilize people cannot choose its victim arbitrarily...if a patent forgery like the "Protocols..." is believed by so many people that it can become the text of a whole political movement, the task of the historian is no longer to discover a forgery. Certainly it is not to invent explanations which dismiss the chief political and historical fact of the matter: that the forgery is believed.
Mr. Bezos, the world's most frenetic salesman, pitches the Protocols in his internet store to an already lazy-reading worldwide public with this friendly description:
"THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS STILL OPEN TO DEBATE". Boy, if I had a nickel for every crass and stupid billionaire ....
Ford's personal secretary, E. G. Liebold, who is depicted as a sort of a Karl Rove to Ford's George W., in his influence and power in an interview cited in Baldwin's book, Henry Ford and the Jews, insisted upon the legitimacy of the Protocols even after 30 and more years since Ford ceased publication of them: "If (they) had not been authentic, we never would have published them...we took the Protocols... at their face value.." He believed them. He believed them so much that even at that later date (30 years after Ford and Co stopped publishing them would put the interview circa 1957) he stated that he still read them to help him understand what was going on in the world. The Protocols might have appealed to Ford because in their exaggerated lies and perverse fiction they were proving in Ford's mind that history -as he did and didn't remember it- was bunk . Perhaps he thought, too, that history was against the projection of new ideas- he ignored history at the cost of reassessing some ideas that he couldn't see the outcomes to or realize the limitations to which he would be subjecting generations to come ( there was a small attempt with his good friend, Edison, at the manufacture of electric cars but for some vague reason that idea was soon tabled - I do digress)
Another Highlight from the show as hosted by the affable Mo was the Ford penchant for camping and general outdoorsy cavorting with his good industrious buddies that included the tinkering Edison, Harvey Firestone, sometimes President Harding or Coolidge (whoever was in town?), their assistants and cooks and wives, and John Burroughs, the writer and naturalist who would record these encounters in his private diary where we can read all about Ford's hatred of the Jews but the old conservationist conserved this strictly in his private jottings as Ford's remarks regarding the Jews causing the War and cause all the thieving across the country and the inefficiency of the navy(?) and lashing out at Jay Gould the robber baron and calling him a "Shylock"- at this Burroughs (we have Baldwin to thank for this) let Ford know that Jay was an old classmate of his and was a true Presbyterian- never made it to the published books. (This is one of the reasons why The Haldeman Diaries are a favorite of mine-Nixon seems to be asking these things all the time of him-"Is Dick Cavett Jewish?" -and Haldeman actually is on record for saying- "he doesn't look it".)
There was a public apology (we wrote about this back in Sept., 2012 motivated by a Hedrick Smith article in the Times) in 1927, in the form of a statement to a Jewish lawyer (I can hear Henry now...) and communal leader, Louis Marshall. In the statement Ford writes:
In Germany and in Poland and I think in Argentina and Chile, maybe Spain?, they have instituted national committees of remembrance and reconciliation wherein the entire nation is invited-urged, really, to take a good hard look at their history, however bloody and painful, and perhaps learn what and how and why that history means for them today. I can even imagine a program- say geared for children of a certain age- say on a Saturday morning.
"I was sad and I was blue but now I'm just as good as you-
Since Henry Ford apologized to me.
I've thrown away my little Chevrolet and bought myself a Ford Coupe.
I'm glad he changed his point of view and I even like Edsel too
Since Henry Ford apologized to me."
My mother says she'll feed him if he calls Gefilte fish and matzoh balls."
- recording by The Happiness Boys
"It is needless to add that the pamphlets which have been distributed throughout the country and in foreign lands will be withdrawn from circulation, that in every way possible I will make it known that they have my unqualified disapproval, and that henceforth The Dearborn Independent will be conducted under such auspices that articles reflecting upon the Jews will never again appear in its columns."
He signed it on June 30, 1927. Three months before the founding of CBS. The statement was given after much agitation and economic reasoning and even upon many readings it sounds sincere enough, I guess, but it is now read in the light of these past 88 years
and its enough for me at least to know at this place and time that the man who signed it would give in future years a generous donation to the Nazi Party in Germany and its leader would honor "America's most admired man" by hanging his picture in his office and awarding him the highest Nazi honor. And then Mo did a story showing the kids how to have a brighter smile on skype.
|Henry receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, 1938|
At the same time on that Saturday morn (Jan 2, 2016) on the cable news station MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry, who is a writer, professor, mother, TV personality-and not in that particular order of course, started her show with interviews of Samaria Rice whose 12 year old son Tamir was shot down in a Cleveland playground( he's second from the left in the top row on the front page of this blog) by a white cop in a patrol car who says he thought his life was in danger by the kid playing with his toy gun. The video of the execution (for thats what it is) is shocking- stunning- but evidently not enough to charge the cop with any crime and Lucia McBath, whose son, Jordan Davis, was murdered for being a passenger in car that some white man fired upon because he thought the car radio was too loud.
|Tamir Rice, in the Fall of 2014|