First there is intellectual bankruptcy demonstrated in this instance by right-wing radio host Kevin Jacobs of KRLA in Los Angeles. Mr. Jacobs’ attack against Senator Barack Obama – full of boyish zeal and mischief – was, unfortunately, ill-timed and largely without substance. Far worse, the fact that he had no clue as to the particulars of Britain’s policy of Appeasement and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s role in it is virtually unforgivable. For a would-be Conservative to engage on the field of political battle without a firm grasp of historical fact is to deny himself perhaps his greatest weapon, and to provide the adversary an easy target by which to embolden himself and his cause.
Next we have literal bankruptcy represented by Mr. Mark Green, President of Air America. Spouting threadbare anti-Bushisms on cue, this blow-dried, spray-tanned leftbot contributed nothing to the debate save to provide real-time verification of why “progressive talk radio” is bereft of both listeners and funds.
Lastly, there is moral bankruptcy, demonstrated here by Mr. Matthews himself. Though he knows better, Mr. Matthews opted to forsake the truth in favor of savaging his guest right-wing dupe for committing the sin of not knowing his history; understandable and entertaining, yes, but highly unfortunate in this particular debate.
“What did Chamberlain do wrong,” Mr. Matthews repeatedly demanded of Mr. Jacobs. In terms of the particulars, Mr. Jacobs hadn’t a clue.
Finally an exasperated and indignant Matthews condescended to explain. “There is a difference between talking with the enemy and appeasing,” he instructed. “What Neville Chamberlain did wrong – most people would say – is not talking to Hitler but giving him half of Czechoslovakia in 1938. That’s what he did wrong!”
In our view this is rather like saying, “What Mrs. Fleebswottle did wrong was not having an affair with the milkman, but getting pregnant by him.” Alas the moral code of six-year-olds: it’s only wrong if you get caught. Chamberlain got caught.
In Munich in 1938, Neville Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler were talking quite a bit. In those talks the two of them complimented one another’s mustache, exchanged tips on winterizing their gardens, and gave away half of Czechoslovakia to the Nazi regime. In the now infamous Munich Agreement, Hitler promised - honest-injun, crossed his heart and hoped to die - that he would take only what was agreed to and nothing more. Hitler lied. Chamberlain and the entire civilized world were shocked.
Well not the entire civilized world. Sir Winston Churchill for one was not. He had been passionately warning about Hitler since 1933. He was not alone in this. Many were able to read Hitler like a book. In fact, many had. It was not exactly an act of supernatural prophecy to see that Adolf Hitler was a deranged, anti-Semitic, power-mad, war-monger who must be stopped - not talked to, not negotiated with, not appeased - but stopped by whatever means available.
And yet, Neville Chamberlain insisted on talking . It was via this talking that he got stung and landed Britain, and the world, in the weakest possible position.
But what if Hitler hadn’t lied in Munich? What if he kept his word, consumed only Czech Sudetenland, and left the rest of the world alone. Would Mr. Matthew’s have said Neville Chamberlain did anything wrong then? No. Thus giving away half of Czechoslovakia is not really what Chamberlain did wrong; taking Hitler at his word is what Neville Chamberlain did wrong.
“There is a difference between talking with the enemy and appeasing,” insists Mr. Matthews. “Appeasement is giving away things to the enemy.” What Mr. Matthews claims not to be able to see here is that talking with the enemy IS giving away things to the enemy. What did Chamberlain give to Hitler? He gave him the Prime Minister of Britain’s time, attention, prestige, and trust. Quite a lot some would say, and at quite a cost. THAT is what Mr. Chamberlain did wrong – knowingly or unknowingly – and it is a sin one can only commit by talking, even if said talk is ostensibly in the name of peace. (Side note - we are told Mrs. Fleebswottle claims she only did what she did to afford milk for her children. Also she really did love the milk man and besides, he promised her he was sterile. The bastard!)
There are some interactions one ought know better than to engage in; this is the lesson of 1938 Mr. Bush spoke of before the Knesset last week: the dire importance of resisting the “false comfort of appeasement.”
As regards talking with this latest breed of fascists – Iran/Hizzballah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Syria et al - presuming these talks extend beyond mustaches and gardening, how exactly does one talk with bodies whose publically declared mission statement is the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a worldwide Islamic Caliphate?
Furthermore, there is the not insignificant issue of Taqiyya, the Islamic principle of lying for the sake of Allah. Ought President Obama, or McCain, or Clinton, or … yes even Kucinich give the prestige, time, attention, and trust of the President of the United States to self-proclaimed enemies of Western values who are compelled by their “faith” to deceive unbelievers? And what is there really to talk about? A joint venture to airlift all Israeli Jews to Fort Lauderdale? The incorporation of Sharia law into the United States Constitution? Economic incentives for “green oil drilling” in Saudi Arabia?
Some things are non-negotiable and thus talking is to no avail. The existence of Israel, human rights for all, the sovereignty of peaceful and responsible nations – these things are non-negotiable, particularly with enemies who seek to take them away. That is, after all, why we regard them as “enemies.”
In humorous punctuation to this entire scene - in his final dismissal of Mr. Jacobs, Mr. Matthews asks, “Wasn’t the U.S.S. Cole under Bush? I mean I don’t know what you’re talking about here” He then concludes in radiant self-righteousness, “Kevin, when you’re going to make a direct historical reference, get it straight.” Here, here Mr. Matthews!