Note: A slightly different veriosn of this appeared as an article in The Dakota Beacon May issue.
They’re at it again, the Nazi hunters. And this time they’ve found the state of Arizona.
Not Nazis living in Arizona, the whole state. It seems the Arizona legislature passed a law requiring enforcement of immigration law closely modeled on the corresponding federal law. The federal government has been lax in enforcing its own laws, so Arizona is going to do it at the state level on that section of the U.S./Mexican border within their jurisdiction.
To those who don’t have to live with their problems, this makes Arizonans “racists” and “Nazis” you see.
No, no, don’t bother to thank me. I’m just glad I had a chance to straighten that out for you.
That’s something I’ve wondered about for years. Why is it when someone is reaching for a symbol of ultimate evil to tar someone with, they always seem to grab “Nazi” off the shelf of history?
“WHAT?” I hear your outrage. “Don’t you know history?”
Yes, quite well, thank you very much. Enough to know the Nazis come in a distant third in the mass murder sweepstakes of the 20th century. The murder tally of the Soviet Union is at minimum, ten times that of the Third Reich. The total of all murders by all communist governments, and I mean murders of helpless civilians excluding casualties of war, is at least 100 million.
Perhaps that’s not a fair comparison, the Third Reich had only 12 years to accomplish what the USSR did in 81 years and the Peoples Republic of China in 61 years. Still one has to wonder, why nobody calls someone whose politics they don’t like, a “Lenin” or a “Mao”?
You seldom hear anyone called a communist. And if you do, you’ll be ridiculed or answered with the counter-charge “McCarthyite!” though the late senator from Wisconsin is not known to have murdered anyone.
But you can still be taken seriously after calling someone a Nazi. And by the way, I take that “Nazi” slander pretty seriously. You see, unlike those who bandy it about so carelessly, I’ve been to Auschwitz. An experience I can safely say I’ll not forget till the day I die – as much as I wish I could.
But what’s really astounding is that anyone can publicly call themselves a communist and have a successful career in the civil service or academia. If you even brought up the question of whether someone advocating a political philosophy whose adherents have murdered millions should be supported at public expense, you’d be accused of “persecuting them for their opinions.”
(This is neither speculation nor hyperbole. I’ve heard it in those exact words.)
One has to ask, for God’s sake why? Why is it acceptable, even respectable, to identify oneself with the perpetrators of mass murder, as long as it’s not Nazi mass murder?
Various explanations have been offered.
One reason could be that the Nazis mostly murdered Europeans. The Chinese and the Russians were more distant peoples whose history and culture we knew little about. Perhaps for that reason we don’t call someone a “Tojo”, though the Japanese killed Chinese in numbers far exceeding the European casualties of WWII.
It could also be the Nazis made the mistake of picking on a highly-literate people whose survivors were capable of telling their story to the world. We all know something about Jewish history because it is part of the history of western civilization. But how many in the West know or care about the history of the Crimean Tartars, Ukrainians, or Tibetans?
A bit of that elusive bugaboo “unconscious racism” might be at work as well. Perhaps we expect Asians and Russians to behave with what we think of as “oriental cruelty”, but Germany was a civilized European nation whose contributions to western civilization are considerable.
Some suggest the communist regimes lasted well past their period of greatest brutality. So that when their crimes against humanity become widely-known they were already a generation in the past.
This explanation doesn’t work for me. For one, the knowledge was always available at the time. It was just denied and covered up, sometimes by sincere believers who were shocked out of their political faith when confronted by convincing proof of communist atrocities.
Among these was the writer Howard Fast, who told about his disillusionment in his autobiography, ‘Being Red: A Memoir.’ The process of leaving the Party began for Fast after he was given a copy of Kruschev’s secret speech detailing Stalin’s crimes. It took him awhile to process it though, and he kept his knowledge of the speech to himself for quite some time.
But the horrors were also concealed by accomplices with full knowledge of the truth, such as New York Times reporter Walter Duranty, who witnessed first-hand the deliberate starvation of Ukrainian peasants at Stalin’s orders. Duranty reported seeing billowing fields of golden grain, and happy well-fed peasants dancing and singing the praises of the people’s paradise and kindly Papa Stalin.
The reality he saw was people starving to death by the millions as what food they managed to produce was seized.
Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize is still displayed in the NYT offices. The prize committee refuses to revoke the award, in spite of protests by Ukrainian-American organizations.
And most damning, well after the period of the greatest Soviet terror in the ‘30s, and China in the ‘50s, intellectuals like Noam Chomsky were still following the script as a communist government murdered millions in Cambodia: first deny, then minimize, then actively excuse.
Chomsky added a step to the customary progression: then blame the United States.
And I have to ask myself, how far can you go in denying, or actively justifying the murder of millions before you must be considered an accessory at best, an accomplice at worst?
But sometimes I get the depressing feeling the real reason may be that it’s safe to beat the Nazi horse, because it’s a dead one. They lost.
The USSR was until recently, and China still is, a terrifying reality in the present. They had and have numerous apologists and defenders in the West. Among them New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman who openly wishes the U.S. government could get things done just like China does.
Today’s neo-Nazis are a miniscule group of pathetic losers nursing a neurotic need for attention, who don’t really scare anyone anymore.
When I hear “Hitler” and “Nazi” tossed around by people who would never say “Stalin” or “Mao” or “communist,” I have to ask, is it because they are afraid of these kind of people? Or worse, is it because they admire them?
Could that be it? And why?
Leftists are intellectuals, just ask them. Or don’t, they’ll be only too happy to tell you anyway.
And though I say it who am one, intellectuals tend to be, shall we say, a bit on the wimpy side. They may admire strength, but often have little idea what it is, and too damned often they think strength is brutality.
America’s longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer saw this years ago when he said, “One strategy of the weak is to hint at their capacity for evil.”
Gulag: A History. Anne Applebaum, 2004.
The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Mark Kramer, Jonathan Murphy, Stephane Courtois, and Jean-Louis Panne, 1999.
Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society, Paul Hollander, 1997.