Encore post: Ernie Pyle’s typewriter

July 16, 2007


PBS’s series, “History Detectives,” featured a mystery involving a typewriter alleged to have belonged to World War II reporter-hero Ernie Pyle. This is an encore post from May 1, 2007, originally entitled “Typewriter of the moment: Ernie Pyle.” Extra links are posted at the end.

This typewriter, a Corona (before the merger made Smith-Corona), belonged to Ernie Pyle, the columnist famous for traveling with the the foot soldiers of all services in World War II. Pyle won a Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his columns in 1943, published collectively in the books Here is Your War and Brave Men. Pyle was killed covering the end of World War II in the Pacific, on an island named Ie Shima, on April 18, 1945.

The typewriter rests in the Albuquerque Museum. It comes with a story.

Ernie Pyle's typewriter, rescued from a foxhole in Italy in 1944; Albuquerque Museum From the Albuquerque Museum’s exhibit, “America’s Most Loved Reporter”:

[Quote] Ernie Pyle interviewed Sergeant Don Bell, a rodeo rider, in June or July 1944 outside of St. Lo, France. Bell recalled that the foxhole they shared caved in during German shelling. Pyle said, “I have my notes, but my little portable typewriter is buried in that hole.” They hurriedly abandoned the foxhole, leaving the typewriter behind.

Sgt. Bell later salvaged it, kept it through the war, and donated it to the Museum in 1990. A photograph of Pyle in Normandy, typing on an Underwood, may have been taken after this event.

Bell recalled the interview as comforting. He wrote, “…Ernie had taken my ma’s wisdom and turned it into a soldier’s lesson: to find strength in battle you take hold of strength you’ve known at home…and of the faith that underlies it.” [End quote]

Additional on-line sources about Ernie Pyle and his typewriters, July 16, 2007:

The scary truth about Powerline

July 16, 2007

Clearly somebody at Powerline proofs the copy — I imagine spelling errors that sneak into publication get corrected. But does anyone ever bother to check the boys’ work for reality?

Today Powerline appears to be complaining about Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s and America’s first Moslem congressman. After reciting the usual Powerline diatribes claiming Ellison is probably a Marxist, certainly out of touch with America, and probably responsible in an unsavory fashion for the designated hitter rule and the movie “Gigl,” the blog details Ellison’s sins (in the eyes of Powerline).

Do they need glasses? A refresher course in history? What’s scary is that Ellison’s criticisms of the Bush administration start sounding so rational — and for that, Powerline has no response.

Powerline warns us that Ellison spoke to a group of atheists in Edina, Minnesota, in towns that suggest disaster in the next film reel, copying from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“You’ll always find this Muslim standing up for your right to be atheists all you want,” Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress, said in a speech to more than 100 atheists at the Southdale Library in Edina. As Minnesota’s first black member of the U.S. House ends his first six months in office, Ellison did not disappoint a crowd that seemed energized the more pointed he made his opinions.

Oh, my! Ellison takes the Jeffersonian stand on the First Amendment. Are we swooning yet? What? Oh, yeah, well — Powerline prefers to think that parts of the Bill of Rights don’t exist, not in the rude company they keep, I guess.

The truly revelatory point there is that Edina has 100 atheists. If Powerline had any sense, they’d worry about how that might limit their market.

On impeaching Cheney, which the Minneapolis DFLer supports: “[It is] beneath his dignity in order for him to answer any questions from the citizens of the United States. That is the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship.”

So, Powerline worries that Ellison thinks the administration should be answerable to the American people? That strikes me as a pretty good idea, actually. Bully for Ellison. Unsurprisingly, even Republicans say the same thing [see the last paragraph].

The Vice President should answer to and be held accountable to the citizens of the nation. That’s one of the key points of our Constitution — the founders wrote in formal occasions for the administration to make such presentations. Do the guys at Powerline know about the Constitution and its requirement for reports to Congress?

On calling the war in Iraq an “occupation”: “It’s not controversial to call it an occupation — it is an occupation.”

Ellison calls a shovel, a shovel. What was it Powerline wanted? What does Powerline call it?

While it is possible to hope for a better future, analysts and business consultants teach that people must recognize the reality of the situation they are in before making effective and executable plans to change things for the better in the future. Powerline has other plans in Iraq than success for America?

Here’s the money quote, the one that has caused a major kerfuffle of controversy today:

On comparing Sept. 11 to the burning of the Reichstag building in Nazi Germany: “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I’m not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”

Powerline comments:

In promoting the disgusting conspiracy myths of radical “truthers” and extremist Muslims, Ellison is simply working his latest hustle to the growing audience in the nut-ball box. It’s an audience that includes the Minneapolis atheists who fancy themselves too intelligent to believe in God.

Here’s the problem: The Bush administration did use the events of 9/11 as an the emergency event to get things done that they needed a contingency for. What was to become the PATRIOT Act, instituting a new system of spying on Americans, was already drafted by September 1, 2001; administration officials worried that it appeared too great an over-reach. Memos show that some officials suggested waiting for an event that might galvanize opinion in favor of such a move. That event occurred on September 11, and the PATRIOT Act was before Congress within a few days.

Powerline doesn’t deny that, of course. They can’t . All they can do is throw invective at Ellison, call him a Marxist, and suggest he’s out of touch.

Which, of course, is what the National Socialist Party did to their political rivals in Germany after February 27, 1933, the day after the Reichstag building burned. President Hindenberg issued the Reichstag Fire Decree, suspending many civil liberties in Germany.

Powerline says Ellison can’t accuse them of doing what they’re doing, after they call him “Marxist” for noting the historical parallels — just as the National Socialists called their enemies Marxists (several communists were arrested and tried for starting the fire; while most were acquitted, Marinus van der Lubbe was convicted and beheaded; a German court overturned his conviction in 1981).

If you don’t want to be accused of latter-day Reichstag political fixing, don’t do the crime. The rest of us may wish Ellison weren’t so scarily close with his historic comparisons. The solution is for the government to defend civil rights, and to stop calling people communists or worse for simply disagreeing about policy.

I think I hear Santayana’s ghost giggling a bit, between sighs. If our national future weren’t at stake, it would be really funny.

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