On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Why didn’t Charlie Chaplin’s stirring speech become an icon of freedom?

Back in the darkest days of World War II, when the Nazis were blitzkreiging unstoppably across Europe’s democracies, as millions of Jews, gypsies and uncooperative Christians were gassed at concentration camps, as America was gripped in fear that California and Oregon were next after Pearl Harbor, an eccentric movie was released.

In it the famed “little tramp” of silent pictures, Charlie Chaplin, played a mad tyrant. Many people misunderstood what Chaplin was attempting to say in “The Great Dictator.”


Here is a heart-felt speech that is perhaps the highest point. However, it never caught on, never became an oft-quoted classic and is not an icon of freedom speeches.

Why not?

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  • http:/ Robert Mims

    I could not agree more. I saw “The Great Dictator” in a film and history class during my university years. This speech so took me by surprise with its passion, eloquence and delivery . . . it shouted “Truth.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gigi

    God speed

  • http://CharliewasaCommie Jack West

    While it’s a great speech – and like Robert Mims, I saw the film in college – the sad truth is that after WWII, Mr. Chaplin fell out of favor due to the revelation that he was a member of the Communist party. Hedda Hopper led an attack against him and he fled these shores, only to return to receive a special oscar years later. Sadly, I think the actions cover the beauty of that film and I don’t feel enough people know of its existence, hence the reason the speech never caught on.

  • Jon Danzig

    Charlie Chaplin wasn’t just a comic genius, he had an insight into humanity, good and bad, no doubt observed from growing up in abject poverty on the streets of London. I’ve just uploaded to my YouTube channel a 4-minute video I wrote and directed called, “London remembers Charlie Chaplin”. It celebrates the little man’s birth in London in 1889, because of course Chaplin was a Londoner.

  • Tony

    Hello..I found this performance fascinating and very close to what I believe philosophically, in text definition. Therin is your answer. Chaplin was a gentle artist of superior intelligence. A performer. He knew destruction was just that. Under any guise or auspices..a lie is just that..politicians now, in past times, and moreso since E. Bernays made his observations, seek control to exploit, not a way to survive peacefully. Some politicos live in delusion and unreality and are not aware of it. Inner peace is a state of mind that refelects well to what it touches. Charles Manson, who needs little introduction as infamous, once said, in answer to a prosecutor at his trial, when asked what he (Manson) believed said ‘I believe what I am told to believe, don’t you?’..out of the mouth of a tyrant..something usable..that may have been his purpose..before he was changed by social imposition..Peace Tony

  • Tony

    Hello..Bravo..I agree and was taken, once again, by the ‘genius’ of Chaplain. I put it on my blog..under the title..’The Great Charlie Chaplin’..Peace Tony

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