You’d think it would be quite hard to trash the memory of Vera Lynn – the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ who died yesterday, age 103 – but the Guardian has found a way.
‘We’ll Meet Again: how toxic nostalgia twisted Vera Lynn’s pop masterpiece’ ran its cowardly, shock-jock, hot take which it put up within hours of the singer’s death.
It was cowardly because it wanted to have it both ways — paying grovelling, cloying tribute to what it was careful to call a ‘perfect pop song’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘all soaring optimism and poignant nostalgia’… but only in order to pour lofty Guardianista scorn on almost everything we feel and remember about the song and its history as ersatz, jingoistic, inappropriate.
Its author Luke Turner writes:
Throughout her postwar career, Lynn’s fame was trapped in symbiosis with the anxiety of a nation in decline, forever doomed to look into the past, to the time when Britain had its “finest hour”
Yes. That indeed is the standard leftist take on World War II: that it was a historical event of only marginal relevance to the modern world, whose significance has been blown out of all proportion by nostalgic conservatives.
So too is the writer’s straw man that we don’t really know what happened in World War II.
Yet as the generation who fought the war have died, so a romantic view of the conflict has become weaponised in the construction of the myth of a plucky Britain, fighting alone against Nazi foes. Britain in 1940 wasn’t alone at all, with the resources of an empire behind it, but that hardly serves the war-evoking narrative that formed the core of so much discourse around Brexit and today’s culture war.
Well, for a start, ‘the myth of a plucky Britain, fighting alone against Nazi foes’ is as old as the war itself – created as it was, for propaganda purposes, in the speeches of Winston Churchill.
As for the idea that Britain was secretly dependent on the Empire for its resources: well that’s hardly news either. Again, Churchill — being Empire obsessed — scarcely stopped banging on about how vital it was to Britain’s interests.
Note too the author’s use of those Marxist critical theory words ‘narrative’ and ‘discourse’: a surefire signal that the author hasn’t grown out of his pseudo-intellectual ‘uni’ phase.
Still, for all that, I am half-inclined to agree with him. It’s probably true that quite a few of us conservative types do look back on the Second World War as a period somehow better than our own.
Back then, after all, we used to fight fascists and Nazis. Now, because they style themselves with misleading names like ‘Antifa’, we delude ourselves that at the very least they ought to be tolerated; or, indeed, in the pages of papers like the Guardian, almost venerated.
‘Forces’ Sweetheart’ Dame Vera Lynn Who Entertained WW2 Troops Dies Aged 103 https://t.co/YJkahMMi00
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 18, 2020