If you read the editorial a couple of weeks ago where I talked about the lessons from a Warner Bros. cartoon, you probably guessed I liked cartoons. I’m going to talk about another one this week, one from World War II that was also very funny and thought-provoking. It still has something of a relevant message for Americans today. It seems fitting since we recently celebrated Memorial Day and the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
This Disney cartoon featured Donald Duck living in Nazi Germany. It was originally titled “Donald Duck in Nutzi Land,” but a song written for the cartoon became a smash hit before the cartoon was released. Thus, the title of the cartoon was changed to “Der Fuehrer’s Face.”
The song was recorded by Spike Jones and featured a razzing sound following the Nazi salutation of “Heil!” Imagine singing this was a bad German accent:
When der Fuehrer say, ‘We is der master race,’
We say ‘Heil!’ (razz) ‘Heil!’ (razz) right in der Fuehrer’s face.
To not love der Fuehrer is a great disgrace,
So we ‘Heil!’ (razz) ‘Heil!’ (razz) right in der Fuehrer’s face.
Donald works a 48-hour shift at the munitions factory, and he has to give the Nazi salute every time he sees a picture of Adolf Hitler. Eventually, the pressure to work harder and faster drives him insane, leading to the one of those great surreal sequences the Disney studio could do.
Finally, Donald wakes up in his red, white and blue pajamas and realizes he was having a nightmare. He hugs a figurine of the Statue of Liberty and proclaims, “Am I ever glad to be a citizen of the United States of America!”
In his introduction to the cartoon on You Tube, film critic and historian Leonard Maltin said the cartoon went over well with wartime audiences because laughing at our enemies was one way Americans deal with them. He also said a goal was to get Americans, like Donald, to think about the freedoms we as Americans may take for granted.
Recognizing and understanding our freedoms as Americans is something I believe we all need to do. During World War II, Americans came to understand their freedoms because we were at war with enemies who would have destroyed those freedoms: the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan.
During the Cold War, we could see how different our system was from the Communist systems of the Soviet Union and other nations. Many American visitors to Communist nations came away understanding and appreciating their freedoms as Americans.
At the same time, we could see areas where we fell short. The Civil Rights movement grew out of a realization that the promise of American freedom hadn’t been applied equally to everyone. As a nation, we came to the understanding the color of one’s skin or one’s gender should not affect one’s rights as an American (for the most part, anyway).
I believe many of today’s leftist, socialist radicals have no understanding of their freedoms as Americans. They have no perspective. They know American isn’t perfect, but they assume it’s the worst because they have nothing to compare it with. They don’t understand history or American government because no one has really taught it to them.
In other words, they don’t know any better.
Maybe it’s time we taught them. Like Donald Duck, who was glad to see he was only dreaming about living in Nazi Germany, we need to remind ourselves of our freedoms and learn to appreciate them. When we understand them ourselves, we can pass them on to the next generation.
The World War II generation was called The Greatest Generation not only for what they did, but for what they came to understand about America. Our leftists today could learn something from them.
In case you're interested, here's a link to this classic cartoon:
Here's a link to Spike Jones' recording of the song: