Tag Archives: Holocaust

The Republican Party in Plain Sight

[Apologies for the length of this post, but I did not invent these people, and, with the midterm election just around the corner, it is important that these Republicans get as much exposure among rational people as possible. Then, you’ll know what to do.]

Over the past few months I have been collecting stories about some of the candidates the Republican Party has nominated for various positions in local, state and federal elections. I am going to share some of those stories with you now. Taking a quote from the humorist Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

Let’s start with South Carolina. An article published August 31, 2018 in The Hill.com [https://bit.ly/2wARLRs] reports,

One candidate in the Hilton Head, S.C., mayoral race is a self-described “Holocaust revisionist” who has denied facts of the mass genocide of Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Another praised the leadership style of Adolf Hitler.

Michael Santomauro, a libertarian-leaning Republican, has made his career out of publishing and distributing Holocaust denial literature, The Post and Courier reported Thursday. The Island Packet noted earlier this month that he runs a website called RePortersNoteBook.com – offering rewards to people who can disprove the validity of Holocaust events like the number of those killed or the existence of Nazi gas chambers at extermination camps.

Santomauro told the Post and Courier that political correctness “has gotten out of hand” and that he voted for President Trump in the 2016 presidential election. “He has never run for public office before but said he felt that “with Trump being in the air, that maybe this is my moment.”

Trump “in the air.” I knew something smelled like rotten fish lately.

Santomauro is facing six competitors for mayor on the coastal island and has been denounced by some observers. But,

One of [Santomauro’s] competitors … Rochelle Williams said she admired Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s leadership. “He did what he had to do,” Williams said while being interviewed for her job at a free summer lunch program for children in need. “He got that many people to follow him. He must have been doing something right.” Williams said she liked Hitler’s ability to control his constituents. “I like the power part, I guess, the control part,” she said.

I told you I was not making this up. Not in my wildest imagination could I conceive of a person being that confused and still seeking public office. How do people like this get through a day? The paper reported that Williams’ political party is unknown, but it’s safe to believe she’s not a Democrat, soooo….

But that’s not all. Oh no, not even close to all. The same article reports that,

Arthur Jones, the former head of the American Nazi Party, was the only Republican candidate in Illinois’s 3rd congressional district outside of Chicago. [emphasis added]

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how you get to be the Republican nominee for anything? Just walk in and give the right salute?

But, wait, there is more.

In California, one John Fitzgerald finished second in a top-two primary with nearly 25 percent of the vote (more than 20,000 votes) and will challenge incumbent Democrat Mark DeSaulnier in November. https://bit.ly/2PsjdbU  After Fitzgerald was nominated, the California Republican Party stated they “do not support the Holocaust-denier” despite his running as a Republican. [emphasis added]

According to Newsweek,

the California Republican Party’s Board of Directors took swift and decisive action to eliminate any support for John Fitzgerald due to anti-Semitic comments he made recently—those views have no home in the Republican Party,” a statement said in May.

In response, Fitzgerald posted on his website: “I am not an anti-Semite by any means. I am strictly an honest and ethical person who has the temerity to state fact.” [emphasis added]

And there is more; according to Forward.com,

The California GOP also condemned white supremacist Senate candidate Patrick Little and banned him from their state convention. In Illinois, former American Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones won the Republican nomination for a House of Representatives race after no other candidates ran in a heavily-Democratic district. The state party later said it would back another candidate as a write-in. And in Wisconsin, businessman Paul Nehlen, who was banned from Twitter for anti-Semitism and racism, is the most prominent Republican candidate to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan.

While local Republican Party organizations appear to be trying to avoid overtly supporting racist, Nazi-sympathizing anti-Semite holocaust deniers, they have failed to explain why these types of people are attracted to the Republican Party in the first place.

One explanation is that these people see the Republican Party as already populated by sympathizers to their rewriting of history. For a prominent example, Rep. Steve King of Iowa retweeted a British neo-Nazi in June. The original author of the tweet is reportedly “one of Britain’s most high-profile white supremacists. He has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and has called himself a “Nazi sympathizer.” https://bit.ly/2PpH5N8  Curiously, or maybe not,

King’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment … as to whether he condones the views of neo-Nazis, whether he’s concerned his views align with those of neo-Nazis or whether a U.S. congressman should be amplifying a neo-Nazi on Twitter. King’s office also did not respond when asked if the congressman considers himself a white nationalist. The tweet, posted early Tuesday morning, hasn’t been deleted [six days after posting].

….

HuffPost first asked King whether he considers himself a white nationalist back in December, after he tweeted “Diversity is not our strength,” a phrase used for years by prominent racists and anti-Semites like David Duke. He didn’t respond then either. [emphasis added]

According to the cited article, “King has said America should not apologize for slavery, has suggested that the country’s first black president was born in Kenya and has argued that most undocumented immigrants are “drug mules.””

He has also repeatedly expressed admiration for Geert Wilders, the far-right and virulently Islamophobic Dutch politician who has called for banning all mosques and Islamic symbols from the Netherlands. And in March 2017, King tweeted, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

So, maybe it’s as simple as Nazi sympathizers and racists see people like King in Congress and conclude “I can be there as a Republican too.” And, while some local Republican Party groups have refused to actively support such candidates, the national Republican Party has remained almost entirely silent while its leader, Donald Trump, continues to pursue policies that tend to normalize the extreme views of people like King, Little, Nehlen, Fitzgerald, Jones and Santomauro.

The end result may be that for many Republicans of the more traditional, non-Trumpist kind, the continued acceptance of such people reinforces the tendency to accept even more of them. See What If the Trump Era Represents the New Normal? by Cass Sunstein in https://bloom.bg/2wAGv7z

Evidence for that idea also comes from the two-time refusal of the Republican-dominated Tennessee legislature to move resolutions condemning neo-Nazi activities. https://bit.ly/2PsNdEA The Republicans would not even second a motion so that debate could occur. The story authors wrote:

Condemning Nazis seems like it should be easy to do. But Republicans at the state level seem to be marching in lockstep with Trump, the national leader of the party. When he refuses to directly repudiate or condemn Nazis, despite their support of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, that message trickles down to the state level. The Republican embrace results in legislative impotence, where even a lopsided body cannot find a way to act against obvious hate.

When Tennessee Republicans give neo-Nazis a pass, they have learned it by watching Trump.

More evidence for the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party across the country comes from Kansas, often referred to as the American heartland. The Kansas City Star Editorial Board observed that “it was no fluke that Steve “Hitler was right” West trounced his three rivals in his GOP Missouri House primary, receiving more than twice as many votes as his closest competitor.” https://bit.ly/2CcOf5S Noting that voters might somehow have missed West’s “race-baiting, anti-Semitic radio show” or his “extremist website or his alter egos, which include “Jack Justice” and “Hollywood Hymee,” as well as his “chronic failure to pay child support,” the paper noted that they couldn’t have missed his platform that was “unapologetically anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT.”

a year after the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, GOP primary voters in his Kansas City and Gladstone district had to have known who and what they were choosing. To believe otherwise is to believe that they randomly went overwhelmingly for the only one in the race who was campaigning on hate.

Then, there is the endorsement by the Miami Herald of a Republican candidate for the House seat being vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, which candidate, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, says,

she was taken aboard a spaceship as a young girl by blond extraterrestrials who resembled the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. She says they told her that the “center of the world’s energy is Africa” and that thousands of non-human skulls were once discovered in a cave on the Mediterranean island of Malta. She has said she witnessed paranormal activity since then and saw a UFO at age 17. She also said she has been in touch with the aliens telepathically long after the abduction.

https://bit.ly/2oGmXLm Rodriguez Aguilera maintains that her story of kidnapping when she was 7 years old “does not define her.” I beg to differ but what do I know. I was never, to my knowledge, kidnapped by aliens. And, if I were running for public office, would I admit it?

The Herald explained its decision to endorse by noting that two of the candidates had not participated in the paper’s endorsement process and that the others were “unprepared or unqualified.” This, of course, raises the important question of what one must do to be “unqualified” for Congress in Florida? Only the Miami Herald knows.

Some clarity may be gained from another story that a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives admitted that she faked her education. https://bit.ly/2NOPj0O She insisted that in faking her diploma

It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on[emphasis added]

The next day, however, reason, or something, prevailed and she dropped out of the race. https://nyti.ms/2KSedKW

If she did not intend to “deceive or mislead,” one can only wonder what she did “intend” to do. By and large, everyone knows whether they graduated from college or not. The degree she claimed to have earned was not even offered by the school whose diploma she purported to display. The Republican concept of “intent” remains a complete mystery. Intent is, of course, also at the center of the obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump. The legal question is whether he had “corrupt intent.” According to the Republican understanding of language, it seems one can lie like a banshee but not “intend” to lie.

Final Reminder: I am not making this stuff up.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania a county GOP secretary, Carla Maloney, called black NFL players “baboons” in Facebook posts in 2017, in protest of black NFL players kneeling or staying the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem. https://bit.ly/2PoiKaH

Tired of these over paid ignorant blacks telling me what I should believe in. I will tell you what I believe in and that is our Flag the National Anthem and America period end of story.” …. “You don’t like it here go to Africa see how you like it there. We are all Americans not African American not Hispanic American. WE ARE ALL AMERICAN.

Missing the irony completely,

Maloney complained about “reverse racism” in America and said she was “sick of the name calling, rioting, shooting, and looting.” She predicted a civil war “soon than later.”

Further in the thread, Maloney turned her anger toward the Steelers and her racist language grew even harsher.

“Steelers are now just as bad as the rest of the over paid baboons. You respect your flag, country and our national anthem. How many men and women have lost limbs or died to protect this country and you baboons want respect,” she wrote. “If you want respect you need to earn it and so far you haven’t. Stop watching, or going to a game and paying for over priced food, water and tickets. Let’s see how the baboons get paid when white people stop paying their salaries.”

In a another curious phrasing, the head of the Republican Committee of Beaver County reportedly said, “Those comments do not reflect the opinions of the Republican Party as a whole.” [emphasis added] This phrasing certainly implies that the comments do reflect a portion of the opinions of the local Republican Party.

He also reportedly said Maloney “is certainly apologetic that she put that persona out there about herself.” That “apology,” not delivered by Maloney herself, appears to be merely a regret that she published a racist attitude, not that she regrets holding such views. In her resignation letter, she did say her comments were “distasteful, inappropriate and insensitive.” https://cbsn.ws/2Cg0pL4 One wonders why she did not recognize that before she posted. It wasn’t a close question. In any case, she’s out of office for now.

Moving from the theater of the absurd to the truly out-of-this-world, we have the case of a

Texas minister, Gloria Copeland, who sat on the Trump campaign’s evangelical executive advisory board, [and] denied the country is in the midst of a severe flu outbreak in a Facebook video that went viral because, “Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu.

We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu,'” Copeland added. “We’ve already had our shot: He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on. And by his stripes we are healed.”

https://politi.co/2Q5bGRe You may be reassured to know that

Public health experts immediately panned the remarks while some other members of the evangelical board distanced themselves from the comments. “We don’t agree with that statement,” said Johnnie Moore, the unofficial spokesman for the panel during the campaign who frequently meets with White House officials on policy and engagement with the evangelical community. “I don’t know a single person in the White House who would agree with that.”

I think I know one. But I’m not telling.

According to Politico, the White House declined to comment and referred the questions to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which then failed to respond.

Every time I see something like this, I am reminded of the Republican article of faith that the states and localities are the true heart of the republic and that power should rest largely there rather than in the big, bad federal government.

The evangelical approach to preventing flu is perhaps not altogether surprising, given that a U.S. Senator who happens to be a doctor (Rand Paul) is on record saying that vaccines can lead to “mental disorders” and therefore there is an “issue of freedom” involved. https://nbcnews.to/2M0qUnq Aligning himself with that paragon of Republican virtue and deep thinking, Chris Christie, Sen. Paul’s position is that parents should be able to decide in an undefined set of circumstances whether their children are vaccinated. Public health authorities do not agree with these approaches, of course, because dangerous infectious diseases are easily spread if children are not vaccinated with potentially disastrous consequences for everyone. But, hey, what’s more local than letting parents decide not to protect their child and thereby expose everyone else’s child to preventable, dangerous illnesses?

 

Visiting the Holocaust Museum

For years, I have resisted visiting this museum, in part because I had read many books detailing the history of the Nazi takeover of Germany and its aftermath and, in part, because I knew how jarring it would be. When my wife announced Sunday morning that she had acquired time-entry tickets for that afternoon, I relented.

The museum is indeed a jarring experience. The faces of the visitors, many quite young and many very old, tell the tale. Seeing the photographs and films while hearing the voices of the men and women who perpetrated the most monstrous genocide in world history is not for the light-of-heart. The cruelty of it cannot be described; it has to be seen. Even then, it sometimes does not register because it is so alien to how normal human beings see other human beings.

There are many lessons to be taken away from the experience of the Nazis in Germany. I won’t pretend to be competent to state them all. Others have done so in words more memorable than anything I can offer. But I can, I think, draw one observation that, for me, was the dominant idea and the dominant sensation that impressed itself on me as I passed through the origins, the implementation and the end results of the Nazi worldview. This sensation does not diminish the horror and the outrage of the Holocaust in any way, but aside from profound revulsion at what was done in the name of racial purity, there is a practical lesson that has immediate relevance to the United States and indeed the entire world.

I am speaking of complicity. Understated somewhat in the museum displays is the historical reality that much of the world, and in particular and notably the United States, turned its back on the Jewish refugees who were trying to escape the Holocaust spreading across Europe in the 1930s. And there is the historical reality of appeasement, the belief that by giving Hitler some of what he wanted, he would stop the ruthless expansion toward world domination that he so clearly stated was his ultimate desire. Intelligent people concluded that another war with Germany was to be avoided no matter what, that Hitler could be sated with a few more pieces of territory, a few more subjugated populations. The world largely stood by and watched Germany roll over much of Europe. Citizens of some of the victim countries actually welcomed the Nazi invasion. By the time the United States actively intervened, it was almost too late. Millions died, millions, while governments around the world failed to act.

Now let us turn to the present. I have written about this before. See http://bit.ly/2qoDaYE. Visiting the museum brings the message into sharp focus. Many of the same tactics used by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party are routinely employed by the President Trump, his acolytes in the White House and his appointees in the major Executive Department agencies. Trump’s attempts to delegitimize the independent media, calling them the “enemies of the people” are right out of Hitler’s playbook. That may seem harsh or over-wrought but the history is there to be seen. Holocaust-deniers are just like climate science-deniers in their capacity to block the truth in favor of more satisfying mythologies.

I won’t belabor this. I don’t know that Trump plans to replace the Constitution, but then again, we have seen him refer to it as “archaic” and “really bad for the country.” He has railed at the courts for decisions he opposed and generally appears to see the Constitution as an unjustified obstacle to his political agenda. He has many apologists who are quick to respond that “he really didn’t mean that” or “he is just frustrated; pay attention to his actions, not his words.”

But his words are his actions. Many people said the same things about Adolf Hitler’s words. Then they saw his actions and remained silent or joined the Nazi bandwagon.

The real point is that people of good will who value their freedom must not be complicit in Trump’s undermining of American institutions such as the free press. Silence is complicity as much as active cooperation. Both silence and active cooperation made Hitler’s rise to power possible. They have the same effect in our time. It is the moral responsibility of every person who believes in the ideals of the American way of life as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the invitation inscribed on the Statue of Liberty to actively resist the Trump administration’s cynical effort to undermine those ideals.

You can do this by subscribing to the information sources at MoveOn.org, ACLU.org, Indivisible.US, PeoplePower.org, Dailykos.com, TakeCareBlog.com or any of the other major authenticated sources of real information about what the Trump administration is doing to undermine the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the freedoms you enjoy as an American. Sign the petitions, participate in the marches, stand up and fight back! If you know someone who voted for Trump, reach out to them and politely, without judgment or acrimony, try to reason with them using the facts and truths that are readily available. And then VOTE in 2018. There is no other way. Do not be complicit by your silence and your inaction.

As you leave the Holocaust Museum, you pass a wall inscribed with these words of Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who openly opposed Hitler and spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Nothing more to say.