Let’s Be Inspired by True Past LeadershipRoundup
tags: far right, Protest, COVID-19
Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University and a Contributing Editor of HNN. For a list of his recent books and online publications click here. His most recent book is In the Face of Fear: Laughing All the Way to Wisdom (2019), which treats humor from a historical perspective.
Reading [about anti-lockdown protests], the historian in me could not help but think of previous examples of people in crises and how they weathered them—e.g., the people of Leningrad besieged by German armies for 900 days or the people of England facing Hitler’s forces almost alone after his armies had taken over most of Western Europe in 1940. But then again, Leningraders were tough, used to all sorts of tribulations. And the British had Churchill. Although not faultless, he was an inspiring war leader, a man who understood the nature of true leadership. Listen to part of his speech of 4 June 1940, after retreating English troops had been forced from the French coastal city of Dunkirk:
… we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. . . .
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender.
But rather than inspiring us Americans to continue our fight against that main evil of our time, the coronavirus, President Trump encourages citizens to “liberate” their states from governors who have had enough sense to follow public-health guidelines that will save lives.
No wonder, one knowledgeable journalist who has specialized in public health reporting is “shocked that America isn’t in a position to provide leadership for the global response to this crisis, in part because science and scientists have been so degraded under Trump,” whom she labels “the most incompetent, foolhardy buffoon imaginable.”
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