This Week I Learned: Gag Rule, War, Global Power, Lindbergh
As I sit down to write this I’m realizing it’s a history-heavy article. It’s also a bit of a *not uplifting* article, sorry. The first topic comes from the 1800’s and a ridiculous rule in the U.S. Congress. Then we take a big jump in time and cover both world wars and one “American” icon.
I’ve always felt the need to know more about the U.S. presidents. Partially that’s due to my interest in history, but also my desire to better understand politics. The podcast Presidential is the source for the first thing I learned this week, the meaning and origin of the term, “gag rule.”
From 1836–1844, Congress banned the word “slavery” from being said on the house floor. They refused to even talk about it, and thus gag rule means to ban a topic from being discussed by people in Congress. I learned about it while listening to the John Quincy Adams episode of Presidential when they talked about how after he was president, he became a one policy politician and broke the gag rule order to spend weeks talking about slavery while he was being censured for doing so.
Which is pretty badass when you think about it. He started talking about the immorality of slavery, knowing he would get censured, and would then have even more time to talk about it.
This one is a downer. But it’s important to understand the true history of the world and the roles countries have played in it. During WWI, but most notably after it ended, the Allied forces used a food blockage to deny food to Germany. The morals of a food blockade during a world war is one thing (I mean I’d still be strongly against it), but continuing such a blockage after a cease agreement has been signed is unredeemable, to add some opinion to this fact.
According to the book The Price of Peace, which focuses on the life of John Maynard Keynes, the effect of the food blockage, strictly after the war ended, was roughly 250,000 civilian lives lost. These are the untold truths of war.
Shift in Global Power
In lighter news, from the same period, is that WWI marked a shift in global financial power. And with money, comes absolute power. Until that point in history, England was effectively the top global power. Then they got dragged into the war, were unable to finance it on their own, and had to borrow money from the U.S. Not technically the U.S. government, but the largest banks in the country.
As a result, most of the world owed England money, who owed the U.S. banks money, who were being influenced by the government.
Flight of the Nazis
As a Minnesotan, I remember learning about the great Charles Lindbergh (he grew up here). The first person to fly solo nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean. This was in elementary school, when they conveniently left out his ties to the Nazi Party. That, I learned later.
This week, however, I learned just how he became a Nazi supporter. From listening to the podcast Intercepted, I learned Lindbergh was actually used by the U.S. Government, who took advantage of his celebrity status, to spy on the German Air Force. Turns out he ended up being impressed with the Nazi social system, starts speaking out against President Roosevelt, and eventually starts blaming Jewish people with trying to drag the U.S. into the war.