Republicans Channel Hitler as They Claim to See Him Everywhere

815560.jpgThe Republicans love to draw false parallels between Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler, and to liken themselves to the so-called Greatest Generation, who crusaded against Nazism.

For ignorant Republicans – leaders and base included – liberals and progressives are somehow both Nazis and Communists, and oddly enough, at the same time, Caliphate-loving terrorists, as though any one of the three could be equated with the others.

Orson Scott Card, Mormon and sci fi author, as well as being a foe of LGBT rights, is also an Obama hater, and one of those who likes to play the Hitler card. Four months ago he said, “Like Hitler, he [Obama] needs a powerful domestic army to terrify any opposition that might arise.”

Like Hitler, he [Obama] needs a powerful domestic army to terrify any opposition that might arise…The National Police will be recruited from “young out-of-work urban men” and it will be hailed as a cure for the economic malaise of the inner cities. In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.

Never mind that Obama neither needs nor has a powerful domestic army – or any domestic army – for people like Card, who operate by generating fear, even the suggestion is enough.

Far from being punished for saying such stupid and dishonest things, Card was rewarded last week by being appointed to the UNC -TV Board of Trustees by Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. Said Chairman Robb Teer,

We are pleased to welcome Mr. Card to the UNC-TV Board of Trustees. We are grateful for his willingness to serve and look forward to working with him to continue providing the people of our state with enriching, life-changing television in these challenging times.

Apparently, some Republicans think public television should reflect their hate-filled and inflammatory rhetoric – which happens to be a very Hitler-like move, and one, no doubt, of which Der Führer would have approved.

The use of these terms demonstrates that conservatives who apply them haven’t the faintest idea what they are talking about. Communism is an extreme left wing ideology, while Nazism is an extreme right-wing ideology. The two hated each other as only extremists can.

The Nazi hymn, the Horst Wessel Lied, reveals the degree of antipathy existing between the two in its first verse:

Die Fahne hoch die Reihen fest geschlossen
S. A. marschiert mit ruhig festem Schritt
Kam’raden die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen
Marschier’n im Geist in unsern Reihen mit

Flag high, ranks closed,
The S.A. marches with silent solid steps.
Comrades shot by the red front and reaction
march in spirit with us in our ranks.

People like Glenn Beck and our various religious zealots fling words like “Communist” and “Nazi” around because they generate negative emotion. None of it has to make any sense. In fact, they don’t want to make any sense. They just want to stoke levels of fear and hatred, which is, as it turns out, very Nazi and very Hitler-like of them.

This absurd mixing and matching of labels is supposed to magnify the fear and danger. So we run into people like Matt Barber who wants to equate Paganism with secularism, and Patrick Henry College professor Stephen Baskerville, who in demonizing both feminism and Islam, rationalizes how a group can be both one thing and another by invoking Hitler and Stalin:

Though they claim to advance rights, or equality, or justice – values that in their place may be seductively legitimate – the real aim is power – or as currently phrased, “empowerment.” In comparison with this shared common goal, differences in contentare secondary. This is why alliances are readily formed between seemingly incompatible agendas: Hitler and Stalin, or Islamists and feminists. “Power is the alpha and the omega of contemporary Communism,” wrote Milovan Djilas during the repression of the 1950s.”Ideas, philosophical principles, and moral considerations…- all can be changed and sacrificed. But not power.

Because we can all see radical Islamists allying themselves with feminists.

Christian fundamentalists pretend “gay activists” are Hitler’s storm troopers but in reality, the gays are as much the victims of Republican ideology as they once were of Nazi ideology, and it is the gay-bashing Republicans who are playing the part of Hitler’s brown battalions. The Tea Party mantra is less “Don’t Tread on Me” and more “I will Tread on You.”

Of course, if Republicans would spend more time reading history and less making it up, they would know these things and their leaders would not so easily be able to lie to them. It is all available and so easy to find that failing to do so borders on the criminal.

Just look at a few examples:

Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl, one of Hitler’s early confidants, wrote in his memoirs, referring to the 1920s, that, “The Nazis were only one of the numerous Right Wing radical organizations flourishing in Bavaria at the time.”[1]

Like the Republicans, the Nazis received monetary support from big business. They also received help from the military and in their early days, even from the Bavarian government “With the Central Government in Berlin predominantly Socialist, the Bavarian authorities sought actively to thwart it and encouraged for their nuisance value all the disgruntled Right Wing elements who flocked south for safety.”[2]

French scholar Christian Ingrao, in a recent study of intellectuals in the SS, points to the dangers in the Third Reich of being thought a leftist: The “firmness of [Obersturmbannführer Heinz] Gräfe’s ideological convictions” was questioned on several occasions” with the accusations being leveled at him not only of pacifism but the even worse label of being “solidly on the left.” As Ingrao says, “the accusation was a serious one.”[3]

Ingrao also relates how another intellectual, Erich Ehlers, was “put to work hunting down Communists and Social Democrats” – the Social Democrats of Weimar Germany being socialists.[4] In fact, in the Third Reich the SD, or security branch of the SS, had as its primary task during Hitler’s rise to power, surveillance of the Nazi Party’s political enemies on the left.[5]

On the other side of the equation, the Communists in 1929 and 1930 went with the slogan, “Beat the Fascists wherever you find them!” and they literally meant “beat” as in a physical sense – bloody.[6]

Like Republicans, Hitler spoke (in Mein Kampf) of “the international traitors and enemies of the country” and the “terrorist activities” of the Reds; he spoke disparagingly of the “fanatical extremists of the left wing” to whom the Nazi Party who “were organized in movements with a more or less radically Marxist tendency…[possessing] no nationalist tendencies whatsoever and deliberately repudiating the idea of advancing the interests of the nation as such.”[7]

In effect, the left was to Hitler as it is to Republicans: traitors.

Of course, as it does for us today, the Communist Party in Germany of the 1920s occupied the far left of the political spectrum, with the Socialists somewhere nearer the middle. But though Republicans seem confused by the “Socialist” in National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP), Hanfstaengl relates that “When he [Hitler] talked of National-Socialism what he really meant was military-Socialism, Socialism within a framework of military discipline, or, in civilian terms, police-Socialism.”[8]

One of Hitler’s early supporters, Otto Strasser, left the NSDAP “because it was insufficiently Socialist and revolutionary.”[9]

Other supporters had issues – for different reasons – with Hitler’s management of the Party. Hanfstaengl relates that Dietrich Eckart, another of Hitler’s old guard, was frustrated with the anti-communists and anti-Semites in Hitler’s inner core, complaining that “you cannot build a political party on the basis of prejudices alone.”[10]

As it turns out, you can, as both the NSDAP and the GOP have proven. Fear and anger of the Other are potent weapons as the Tea Party phenomenon proves.

But historically, it has not ended well. A lesson of history Republicans might wish to consider as they dream their dreams of just wars and crusades and the imposition of American exceptionalism on every shore.


[1] Ernst Hanfstaengl, Hitler: The Memoirs of a Nazi Insider Who Turned Against the Führer. New York: Arcade, 2011 [1957], 75.
[2] Hanfstaengl (2011), 75.
[3] Christian Ingrao, Believe & Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine. Malden, MA: Polity, 2013, 78.
[4] Ingrao (2013), 81.
[5] Ingrao (2013), 91-92.
[6] Benjamin Carter Hett, Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand, New York: OXford, 2008, 89.
[7] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Kindle Edition. 2012 [1925-26], Location 4886.
[8] Hanfstaengl (2011), 71.
[9] Hett (2008), 90.
[10] Hanfstaengl (2011), 81.

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