Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Nazism and Christianity: A Response to Danusha Goska's Essay; Christians Bear Some Responsibility for Nazi Anti-Semitism

Edwin Woodruff Tait, PhD, a Christian author, has responded to my essay "Against Identifying Nazism with Christianity." Dr. Tait disagrees with my main point. He argues that Christians bear some responsibility for Nazi Anti-Semitism. You are invited to read and respond to his work at John Guzlowski's Echoes of Tattered Tongues blog here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Against Identifying Nazism with Christianity

On January 4, 2017, news broke that four young Chicagoans kidnapped an 18-year-old, special needs teenager. The kidnappers bound and gagged their victim, beat and stabbed him, and forced him to drink from a toilet. The torturers streamed their acts live on Facebook. The assailants were black. The victim was white.

Within twenty-four hours, the meme #blmkidnapping "became one of the top five Twitter trends."

Those insisting on this connection made the following arguments. "Black lives matter" implied that white lives don't matter; BLM rhetoric, including "pigs in a blanket fry 'em like bacon" and the persistent "Hands up don't shoot" false narrative motivated multiple killings of innocent police officers. Lenient responses to riots in Ferguson and Baltimore signaled that elected officials were handing thugs a carte blanche. In short, Black Lives Matter was responsible for this heinous crime.

Police said that there was no proven link between the crime and BLM.

Two things are clear: only dispassionate investigation can establish causation, and people with an agenda are eager to link notorious behavior with groups they wish to stigmatize.


The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports that anti-Semitism has plagued the world for two thousand years. The two-thousand-year limit identifies anti-Semitism, and, by extension, Nazism, with Christianity. The USHMM links Nazism to Christian theology. "Early Christian thought held Jews collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. This religious teaching became embedded in both Catholic and Protestant theology during the first millennium, with terrible consequences for Jews," the museum states.

Dabru Emet is a September 10, 2000 statement signed by over 220 Jewish rabbis and scholars. Dabru Emet states, "Without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism and Christian violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out."

Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said that the Nazis "had been reared under Christianity … that showed that there was no barrier in Christianity preventing the killers from doing their evil."

I do not believe that Nazi ideology and Nazi mass murder were dependent on or inspired by Christianity. I believe that Nazism could have arisen in a Europe without Christianity.

Suppose Greco-Roman Paganism dominated the European continent until 1933. Or suppose the Reconquista and Charles Martel failed, and Islam came to dominate Europe. I believe that Nazism could have claimed the same victims, in the same ways, in a hypothetical Pagan Europe or Muslim Europe.

In 1918, a virulent strain of influenza swept the world, killing three to five percent of the world population. Having had a cold or measles or any other disease beforehand had no impact on mortality; this particular strain of flu killed healthy, young adults. Nazism is comparable to the 1918 strain of influenza. Nazism's virulence was not dependent on or facilitated by previous societal plagues.

The reasons why I do not believe that Nazism was a Christian phenomenon are below.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Nazi-Occupied Germany: A Phrase to Exculpate Germany

The book "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype" shows how through folk and popular culture, history is manipulated to exculpate Germans and to indict Poles and other Eastern Europeans. This blog continues that work. 

Blog reader Sue Knight has just alerted me to a new wrinkle, one so devious I had never imagined it. The use of the phrase "Nazi-occupied Germany."

I thought that phrase so weird that it must have been used only once, in the BBC piece Sue mentioned. A quote from that piece: 

"But Bertha was one of the lucky ones. Back in Germany, Bertha's mother and father had made arrangements to escape from Nazi occupied Germany. In a dangerous journey they slowly made their way across Europe and in 1944, five years since they were last together, Bertha's family were finally reunited in England."

I was wrong. I googled the phrase "Nazi occupied Germany" and found thousands of instances, including from the past month, as here:

"Join Sonja Maier Geismar, a St. Louis survivor, in a conversation with Armando Lucas Correa, author of The German Girl, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion."

This phrasing exculpates Germans. They are not responsible for Nazism; they were "occupied" by something foreign over which they had no control.

In fact Germans were themselves the Nazis, and significant numbers of Germans voted for Hitler.

Ironically, the same media and scholars who refer to Nazi Germany as "Nazi occupied Germany" often refer to Poland, a country that was attacked, occupied, and all but destroyed, as being responsible for Nazi crimes committed in Poland, as in the phrase "Polish concentration camp" and other similar shiftings of responsibility and guilt.

Polonia would benefit from engaging in the public sphere and contributing to changes in how WW II is discussed. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Jewish Telegraph Agency -- and Neo-Nazis -- on the Five Million

The Jewish Telegraph Agency published an article focusing on the history of the "five million" number, rather than on the actual suffering and victimization of, and crimes against, millions of human beings.

The article's focus on a relatively marginal point -- the history of the five million number -- is inappropriate. It looks like an attempt to distract the reader from actual human suffering, and to trivialize that suffering by casting doubt on the number of victims. If part of the story is made up, maybe the entire story is made up.

What is needed is a recognition of these victims and a full humanity brought to ways to discuss these victims, while also recognizing that Jews were victimized by Nazis in ways that others were not -- a larger percentage of Jews than of any other group were murdered.

A neo-Nazi website I would prefer not to link here addresses the JTA article and says, paraphrase, see, the Jews are admitting that they made up the five million number just to get sympathy for Jews. No doubt they made up the six million number, too. This is unfortunate.

Neither number is made up. Both numbers reflect real history. The Wikipedia page on victims is here.

The USHMM's numbers are here.

Wikipedia attempts to chart deaths as you see, below.

Bieganski at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most prestigious, taxpayer-funded educational and cultural fixtures in American life. 

The Smithsonian Institution prides itself on being a champion of the oppressed, hosting, as it does, the National Museum of the American Indian, one of the most politically correct museums in the country, See my article here.

The Smithsonian also hosts the National Museum of African American History and Culture, that has a similar Politically Correct mission to present only one chosen aspect of African American history, and carefully to weed out any aspect of African American culture that would prove anything other than hagiographic. 

But the Smithsonian, for all its Political Correctness, is more than happy to disseminate the Bieganski stereotype of Poles as co-perpetrators with, not victims of, the Nazis. See Smithsonian article here that identifies Poles thus. "But whether the database will affect public opinion about Poland—and its involvement in one of history’s most heinous episodes—remains to be seen."

Polonia, you do this to yourself. You do not support your scholars and writers who have tried to work on this stereotype.

One can only weep. 

Please buy and read "Bieganski." Assign it in classes. Invite me to speak. Polonia, you have what you need -- you simply refuse to act. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust Denial, and Deborah Lipstadt

Post-war Warsaw, Poland
On January 30, 2017, The Atlantic published a piece by Deborah Lipstadt about the Trump White House's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

The White House statement is not very good. When I read it, it was impossible not to imagine the editor's pen in my hand. The statement opens with a cliché. The first sentence is missing a conjunction and the second sentence contains a split infinitive. I'm pretty sure that whoever wrote the speech wanted to use the verb "prevail," not the adjective "prevalent" in the final sentence. The statement is vague and no one could imagine that it is heartfelt.

The statement does not mention Jews. This struck me as a mistake. Later I learned that the author purposely did not mention Jews. This struck me as disastrous, and stupid.

But I've gone on and on elsewhere about Trump, and I don't want to do that here.

Rather I want to say that Deborah Lipstadt's article, alleging that the Trump White House is engaging in Holocaust denial, is itself a form of denial. Lipstadt is a Holocaust scholar who fought in court against a Holocaust denier. I wish I could admire her more than I can after reading her piece in The Atlantic.

Lipstadt writes that anyone who mentions non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust is maligning Jews and engaging in Holocaust denial: "Underlying this claim [that non-Jews suffered under the Nazis and that they should be mentioned] is the contention that the Jews are 'stealing' the Holocaust for themselves. It is a calumny founded in anti-Semitism."

This is an utterly outrageous statement. Lipstadt is close to accusing anyone who remembers non-Jewish suffering under the Nazis of a thought crime.

Lipstadt writes, "There were indeed millions of innocent people whom the Nazis killed in many horrific ways, some in the course of the war and some because the Germans perceived them—however deluded their perception—to pose a threat to their rule. They suffered terribly. But that was not the Holocaust. The Holocaust was something entirely different. It was an organized program with the goal of wiping out a specific people."

Poles were similarly targeted for extinction. Hitler's "Armenian quote" is famous. "I have placed my death-head formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Poles, like Jews, had been at the receiving end of centuries of aggression and stereotyping. Otto von Bismarck's quote about eliminating Poles is notorious. It has been translated in various ways. Here's one translation, "Hit the Poles so hard that they despair of their life; I have full sympathy with their condition, but if we want to survive, we can only exterminate them; the wolf, too, cannot help having been created by God as he is, but people shoot him for it if they can."

German aggression against Poles was part of a centuries-long process, drang nach osten.

Poles did not lose as large a percentage of their population as Jews did. That is a fact. It is also true that millions of Poles met fates comparable to that of millions of Jews: exile, impoverishment, deportation, torture, medical experimentation, or death. Poland lost huge stretches of territory and it was delivered, by its former allies, into the hands of the Soviet Empire and remained there for two generations after the war.

In saying these things, I am not a Holocaust denier. I am not accusing Jews of anything. I am merely stating historical reality.

In her Atlantic piece, Lipstadt never mentions Poles. She should have.

It seems to me that she, rather, is engaging in a form of denial – a denial of Nazi crimes against non-Jews, and a demonization of anyone who mentions those crimes.

I want to admire Deborah Lipstadt. I don't know how representative of her attitudes this piece is. I hope it is not representative.

FWIW, many in the comments section of The Atlantic shared my frustration at what felt, to me, like Lipstadt's callous dismissal of the suffering of non-Jews under the Nazis, and the complete evil of the Nazi plans for non-Jewish untermenschen: Gypsies, the handicapped, Poles, Soviets, other Slavs, homosexuals, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, dissidents, Christianity itself, and anyone I have forgotten to mention here, but whose life matters to me.

Statement by the President on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tim Kaine: Trump Admin Left Out Jews from Holocaust Remembrance Day

Steve Bannon

Update: John Podhoretz in Commentary said that the failure to mention Jews was intentional, and an effort at "inclusion." Source here.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday, January 29, 2017. A portion of the transcript is below. (Source)

Senator Tim Kaine said ....the irony is not lost on me that [the White  House restrictions on travel by Muslims into the US] was issued the same day as the White House issued their Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation that unlike any previous administration removed all reference to Jews. So you put a religious test on Muslims and you try to scrub reference to Jews in the Holocaust Remembrance. This was horribly, horribly mishandled. So it's not a pause in--


That's a tough charge--


--a traditional sense.


--Senator, that's a tough charge. You think it's more than a coincidence that it all happened on Friday?


I think all of these things are happening together. When you have the chief political advisor in the White House, Steve Bannon, who is connected with a news organization that traffics in white supremacy and anti-Semitism and they put out a Holocaust statement that omits any mention of Jews.

Remember, earlier administrations have done these statements. And so the first thing you do is you pull up to see what earlier statements have said. And the earlier statements, President Obama, President Bush always talk about the Holocaust in connection with the slaughter of Jews.

The final solution was about the slaughter of Jews. We have to remember this. This is what Holocaust denial is. It's either to deny that it happened or many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, "Oh yeah people were killed. But it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren't targeted." The fact that they did that and imposed this religious test against Muslims in the executive orders on the same day, this is not a coincidence.