Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Right Wing now constantly invoking the Nazis in comparisons, some thoughts

Well, two main trains of thought at least about where some of it comes from, one fairly brief, the other more involved. First off, there's the in my opinion very legitimate comparisons of Bush and his administration with the Nazis by the left, which I engaged in as well. When you set up concentration camps, authorize torture, tap peoples' phones, and abduct people off the street, you have a compelling case for some parallels. The second source is the cultural trivialization of the Nazis by over-reacting to things that have little to do with them.

I'll give you a wonderful example of this. I remember when I was about eighteen, walking into a local Borders' and getting a copy of the double volume of "The Birth of Tragedy" and "The Genealogy of Morals" by Nietzsche, and having the nice older Jewish woman behind the counter put a black bookmark in it and say "Here's some black to go with your Nietzsche".  I doubt that she had any idea what Nietzsche actually had to say, or exactly how the Nazis twisted his words around to justify themselves, but that didn't stop her from making a statement.

Another example: when I was a freshman at NYU, our intro writing class presented us with some example essays of good writing. One of the essays was about a short story that Cynthia Ozick wrote where she looked at two little animals that were running around her yard and pictured herself stepping into their feet, being an animal, with animal instincts. Our essay writer took issue with this, and went off on a rant about how this was Nietzschean and that was the type of thinking that lead to the Holocaust. He had little to say about the actual story itself. Ozick, ironically, is Jewish.

It's a great thing that this guy never read Henry Miller, because he'd have been convinced that he was a goose-stepping Nazi.

This sort of ignorant comparison, where any number of things that are inoffensive are labeled as being proto-Nazi, or as pseudo-Nazi, or as whatever trivialize Nazi Germany itself, even though all of these comparisons are supposedly done in the spirit of trying to prevent a repeat from happening. I remember going through a site that listed things that were supposedly covert swastikas, or that at least demonstrated the disregard of sensitivity of the creators of the icons....and it had Apple's four sided Apple key as one of the semi-Swastikas, surely put there by the nefariously anti-Semitic Steve Jobs to acclimatize people to being okay with swastikas being represented in popular culture. That last is my own color commentary.

The fact is that truth requires truth, not distorted zealotry which will ultimately backfire. This is where the right wing's use of Nazi comparisons to Obama comes in. People see increasingly far fetched accusations and assumptions made, and they get the idea that they can join in on the game. In part, as said, the left helped in this, but only partially. If Nazi can be an insult thrown at anyone without much reason or even sanity behind it, the term becomes devalued and instead allows idiots to appropriate it for their own superficial uses.

Anti-semitism, as an accusation in contemporary America, has a similar, if less conspicuous history. Overall, when you take Israel-Palestine out of the equation there tend to be much less parallels with the term than with the Nazi false equivalency, but even there it crops up, not to refer to actual anti-Jewish actions or feelings, but to things like the supposed motives of the police in Brooklyn for prosecuting the Orthodox counselor who molested over a hundred children.

As said, this is much less of an issue, once you take the false accusations of anti-semitism that are the product of criticism of the Israeli-Palestine conflict out of the picture, than is accusing people of being Nazi-istic, Nazi-symphatizers when they aren't even in the same universe as them, on and on.

People's zealotry to ferret out supposed sympathies with Nazi-ism ironically did not prevent many of the Jewish members of the Bush administration from supporting torture and aggressive warfare against people who did nothing to the United States, from advocating and helping to put into place the same sort of policies that persecuted their ancestors. Nor did it lead to these people, in the main, being called out for their hypocrisy, considering their religious background.

*on edit about Henry Miller: although there are a few anti-semitic stereotypes in "Tropic of Cancer", I remember one reviewer being upset about Miller's use of the term "Holocaust" in his concluding chapter, where he wishes for a general destruction to wipe away what he sees as a hypocritical society. The reviewer seemed to think that Miller was wishing for the Holocaust to happen, and for it to be people who are Jewish to be destroyed. Unfortunately for our intrepid reviewer, Miller wrote the book before World War II happened, and before the mass slaughter was labeled the Holocaust.

No comments: