Over the weekend, Glenn went to see the new film Monuments Men, which is based on Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. Glenn is a big fan of the story, and he was impressed with the film adaptation. While watching the movie, however, Glenn could not shake the overwhelming sense of hypocrisy surrounding Hollywood’s rose-colored glass interpretation of World War II.
“I saw Monuments Men. I happen to love the story, so I'm partial to this movie,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “Some people might find it a little slow, but I like the story and the actors too.”
Glenn offered a brief synopsis of the film:
It's a true story. The story is during World War II. Hitler was taking all of the art, and he was going to build an Aryan museum in Berlin. It would be the largest art collection in the world, and it would have been all of the art from all of Europe and Russia. He would go into the country, and he would find out who has the greatest art. They'd kill the family, and they'd ship it off and hide it. It was grotesque what they were doing.
Well, the universities got together, and they said to FDR, ‘They're stealing all of the art, and even if we win, there will be no culture left’… We would lose what the West even means because he was going into churches, and he was killing all the priests and the taking all of the icons and everything else. They put together what are called the Monuments Men. The ‘Monuments Men’ land on the beaches of Normandy, and they try to find all of this.
And so [the movie is] their story of trying to find it. It's really amazing and historically accurate.
While watching the film, however, Glenn could not help but consider the entire scope of the situation at hand. The work of the Monuments Men was noble and necessary, but the United States government had made a conscious decision to prioritize the art over the Jewish people.
“So I'm watching this, and I'm seething inside because all I can think is these progressives… went in to save the art. The art was being stolen British the Jewish collectors. [But they didn’t] care about the Jew behind the painting,” Glenn said. “They didn’t care about the Jewish family that was exterminated, sent to a death camp. They didn’t care about any of that. FDR is on record saying, ‘We're not here to save the Jews. We're here to stop Germany.’ But they are there to save the art.”
So often Hollywood shames the United States for being the oppressor or the bully or the conqueror, but this story actually illustrates America as the good guy – even if it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“This is what got my blood boiling. The people that made this movie are the same people that say we're nothing but horrible, horrible human beings. We're nothing but conquerors that steal everything we can get our hands on. And yet name the country that replaced all of the monuments,” Glenn said. “Name the country that found the Mona Lisa and put it back. We could have taken it… Russia did it. Russia came in wherever they were and took it. And they sent it all back to Moscow. They took it all. We didn't. We went in; we found it; and we returned it to the owners.”
Ultimately, Monuments Men depicts a duality in the American psyche, in which there exists both good and evil.
“Monuments Men shows how split personality we are as a country. We are a decent, God-fearing, giving, righteous people when we choose. And at the same time, our leaders can take our collective heart and have it go cold, ignore it, and pretend it's not there,” Glenn concluded. “They can ignore an entire race of people. It happened with the Indians. It happened with the Japanese. And it's certainly happened with the Jews. It's wrong. It's evil. But that comes from a fascistic-style leadership, where our goodness is expressed as individuals. When there are enough individuals that understand good, then we start to elect good people and good things happen because good people don't take all of the power themselves.”