A criticism of Nuetrality

Letter to a Hostage (Pushkin Collection) - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Everytime I finish this rather short letter I get caught up in other things meaning that my commentary on the letter gets pushed to the side and as such by the time that I get around to writing about it (such as now) I have basically forgotten much of what was said it in (though I do have an idea of what it is about). However, I am not going to reread it just so I can write a better review, I am simply going to sit down (or lie down in my bed with my laptop on my lap would be a better description of my position at this time) and simply write about what I can remember.

Basically it was written (or apparently written) while Saint-Exupery was in New York during World War II as an exile from France and was writing to a Jewish friend of his who was still in France and in hiding (which is not surprising for a Jew living in occupied France at the time). However I believe that 1944 was the date of publication of the letter as opposed to the date that it was written, namely because he was referring to events that had occurred a lot earlier, and one of the most vivid descriptions that stand out in this letter was his description of Lisbon during the war.

Basically the Iberian peninsula was considered neutral territory during the war, namely because, thanks to Hitler's assistance, Franco had won the Spanish Civil War and Portugal, being pretty much surrounded by Spain, had learnt to play ball. As such, as one can see from the description that Saint-Exupery puts in the book, the people of Lisbon, and Portugal, were living in some imaginary world where life was going on as normal and that the war was far away.

I suspect that this sense of isolation was not so much directed at the Lisbonites but rather at the Americans, though by the date of publication, the United States had entered the war on the side of the Allies and quite possibly had already made a beach head at Normady and were preparing for an assault on the Fatherland. However, if the date of authorship is actually earlier, maybe he was using the situation in Portugal as a criticism of the neutrality of the United States. It is interesting to note that in the lead up to the war the United States was actually playing both sides. They were supplying both the Nazi's and the British (and Fanta actually came about because they wanted a soft drink to sell to the Germans because they could not sell the Coca-Cola).

In a way, the nature of Germany at the time was quite similar to the nature of the American people, which is probably why they did not want to enter the war. In a way they supported the beliefs of Nazi Germany, but had become a traditional ally of Britain, and in turn the French. However, because they did not want to make a stand against the ideals of Nazi Germany, the best thing they could do was to remain out of the war (the whole idea of having one bloody war in the century, and not wanting to get tangled up in European affairs is probably a cover to hide over the fact that elements of the United States actually agreed with the white supremacist notions of the Nazi party).

If one were to argue against that all I need to do is to simply point to the treatment of not just the African Americans, but also other nationalities such as the Indians and the Mexicans. Also, Hitler's corporate agenda was quite in line with America's corporate agenda. As one American President (I can't remember which, but he was president during the Twenties) said 'the business of the United States is business (which reeks of Abbott's statement about Australia being open for business, which suggests that he may want to start selling off our assets at fire-sale prices, with does not actually make good business sense).

In a way I suspect that this letter is actually a wake up call to the neutral states, and the nature of what the Nazi regime means. He points to an incident that he was involved in with some thugs known as the secret police where he was hassled simply for standing around, and because he couldn't actually prove that he was a journalist, he was hassled even more.

In a way it brings to mind some of the Christian leaders who jump up and down screaming persecution when in reality we may be laughed at, but we are not persecuted. My belief is that if real persecution has come about it is because we have lived in a dream world and have done nothing to stand up to the real persecution that is going on around us. Basically, if one sector of society is being persecuted (such as homosexuals) and we are doing nothing about this persecution, then one by one the minorities are going to be pushed out of the way, and once they are out of the way, we suddenly discover that we are in the minority, and because we are in the minority, we suddenly find that we are facing the brunt of the persecution and there is nobody around to stand up for us.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/751807971