Why the (true) history of ‘Dunkirk’ matters, by Tom Rogan.
Never has so much ignorance been rendered on such a great feat by so few.
Such is the historical record of reviewers of the new movie, “Dunkirk.”
First, a brief historical primer. Dunkirk was the site of the British Army’s evacuation from northern France in May-June 1940. The evacuation was made necessary after the British Army in France, deployed as the British Expeditionary Force, was encircled by a rapidly advancing German army. Thanks to the immense courage of rearguard forces, RAF pilots, and British civilians (who lent their boats to the effort), 200,000 British soldiers and 140,000 French, Belgian and Polish soldiers were saved from capture.
Now to the reviews …
At USA Today, Brian Truitt laments “the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color.” This, Truitt explains, “may rub some the wrong way.”
Let me be clear. The “some” that might be offended are the same “some” that attempt to swim with polar bears and saltwater crocodiles. The Washington Free Beacon’s Alex Griswold beat me to it, explaining why Truitt’s review is so silly. But let me add one point. What measure of honor would there be to inject “actors of color” into a historical event in which no persons of color served? It would be like making the civil rights movie, Selma, but hiring all white actors to play the parts that black demonstrators played in real life.
In a similarly silly take, at Slate.com, Dana Stevens suggests the British Army at Dunkirk was the “last bulwark against Nazi invasion of the British mainland.”
No, this is just wrong. Even if the British Army had been captured, there were two further bulwarks against invasion. First, the British Royal Air Force (RAF). As history records, the RAF was crucial in holding off swarms of German bombers that aimed to destroy the British will to resist and means of doing so. Unless and until the RAF was defeated, the Nazis would have not been able to protect ground forces on the landing grounds and approaches to London. (Incidentally, Hitler’s idiocy in diverting German bombers away from RAF airfields and towards British cities helped the RAF win the day.)
Second, the Royal Navy. Though often ignored, the Royal Navy would have played an instrumental role in defending Britain from an invasion. And most historians believe the Royal Navy’s recognized supremacy over the German navy would have allowed it to eviscerate German landing support elements and the German supply train in the event of an invasion by sea.