Editorial disputed

To the editor:

In reply to the Aug. 18 editorial, “Excuses,” in the 1930s and 1940s, Americans and Europeans did ask what they had done to turn Germany into a Nazi dictatorship. Many found the answer: A young nation had suffered defeat in World War I, humiliation at Versailles and then a depression. These destroyed Weimar democracy, allowing Hitler to seize power. We shared the blame. See Churchill’s “History of the Second World War.” I can send it.

There were “bleating” apologists for Hitler. See the newspapers of Henry Ford, the speeches of Charles Lindbergh and Neville Chamberlain, or the works of A.A. Milne. Hundreds of thousands of Americans slept with these ululating ungulates. So, the “unity and ferocity” we showed in dealing with Hitler, as you presume, is simply false. That presumption is equal parts neo-conservative myth and boomer self-loathing.

You finally assert that the 1979 hostage crisis triggered the “world war with terrorists.” This ignores terrorism’s longer causes: the divergences between Europe and the Middle East from 1453-1918; their consequences, European imperialism and the creation of nations such as Yugoslavia and Iraq; the tribal, ethnic and religious reactions to imperial nation-building, which supported fundamentalism and terrorism; and how fundamentalism has exploited ignorance, whether from a minaret in Riyadh or from a flight deck near San Diego. See the works of Hobbes, Montesquieu, Gibbon, Twain and Orwell. I can send them.

The war in Iraq, like your screed, begs the question. Until you endorse evidence, please avoid writing about history.

Burke Griggs,