It’s 2017, and I never expected to be writing a column explaining the core of Nazism for an American audience. I didn’t expect to live this long, either, given some of the obstacles I’ve faced since my youth, but here we are. I know it’s become a cliché to say that I’m glad my father, and his uncles who fought with Patton’s Third Army, are not alive to witness these days, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
That General Patton was not a fan of denazification in 1945, shortly before his death, may give us a clue to our current situation. Or the former Nazis who were given refuge in the U.S. because they had skills that qualified them for special treatment. Denazification was highly successful in creating a Germany where the remnants of Nazi ideology were given few nutrients with which to grow. Not completely successful, as no such program can ever be, but sufficiently so that today Germany is the leader of the free world. If only the efforts of our parents and grandparents in Europe had completely exorcised those demons here at home.
While Americans fought the Nazi threat to liberty, crushing them for being racist and anti-Semitic was not the primary purpose. The United States did little to help Jewish refugees before she entered the war, and did nothing to destroy the extermination camps when action could have been taken to prevent the murder of millions. The reason for this is that America was ruled then, as it had been for 150 years, by people for whom white supremacy was a given. And Jews were not white people.
Humans act out of self-interest. Whether it’s the failure of some gay persons to stand up for trans ones, or white people to come to the aid of black ones (e.g., Bosnia vs. Rwanda), we expend our resources and risk our lives for those we consider close kin. The United States did not go to war against Germany to save Jews, but to defend itself, its freedom and democracy, flawed as they were. War was declared against Germany, on December 8, 1941, during the height of the Jim Crow era.
It was Jim Crow that was a model for Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, which made its Jewish population non-citizens and led directly to extermination camps seven years later. Hitler’s admiration for American racist legislation has long been known, but only recently compiled in a new book by James Q. Whitman, entitled, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.
From the press release:
Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.
As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and anti-miscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.
So, there you have the fundamental bridge between garden-variety American racism and racial anti-Semitism (religious anti-Semitism had been in existence for two millennia and laid the groundwork for its racial counterpart). Racism and anti-Semitism go together seamlessly (though the progressive movement has given it quite a twist during the past few years, as I’ve written elsewhere).
Many Americans today don’t understand why Jews are brought into this at all, and why trump, with Jewish grandchildren, can’t simply condemn the anti-Semitism. The critical point to understand, from the point of view of the American racists who chanted “Jews will not replace us” last Friday night in Charlottesville, is this:
The core of the American bigot’s hatred is his racism. There is no question about that. The only way these white racists can make sense of their anger and feelings of oppression, in the face of their deeply felt superiority to black people, is to blame others. If whites are inherently superior to blacks, how can it be that some blacks are more successful than whites? In the natural world, under natural law, that would be impossible. The only explanation is that the devil is at work to undermine that natural order.
That devil is world Jewry, and those racial canards have been abroad in the world since the 1880s. If whites are inherently superior to blacks, yet blacks are successful and receiving government assistance and affirmative action, it can only be due to the insidious action of race traitors. And since no white person could conceivably betray his race, there must be the Other who has poisoned the world’s culture and economy since their original sin 2000 years ago. These are the (rootless) cosmopolitans railed against by the Jewish senior adviser, Stephen Miller, known in the twitterverse as “Baby Goebbels.”
This is why trump can tolerate surrounding himself with Jewish lawyers and accountants. This is why he appointed several court Jews to his cabinet, such as Gary Cohn, who is “privately disgusted,” and the smirking Steven Mnuchin. He sees them as the people who control the world’s financial system, and since his only concern is enriching himself, he’s happy to deal with the devil. Apparently, they’re equally happy to deal with him. It explains why he’s in bed with Putin, who is friendly with Chabad, and appears to be controlled by the global organized crime network run by Semion Mogilevich. Putin’s Russia is a state that has pivoted to become a global magnet for believers in a traditionalist Christian, sexist, homophobic culture. This has attracted many leaders of the Republican party, as well as the Israeli right that, never having had any compunction about getting into bed with Christian extremists to maintain the Occupation, are now quite happy to stay in bed with their obscenely wealthy handlers in the former Soviet Union.
The global organized crime network today is run out of Russia, with some right-wing Americans attracted by the vicious Islamophobia of Mr. Putin. Trump is part of this cabal, and has been for decades. This is the modern iteration of fascism, of which Nazism is its most deadly component. Here, in the U.S., it’s fueled by racism. After his performance at the New York press conference yesterday, which undid the hostage video we all saw the day before, there can be little doubt trump is a dyed-in-the-wool racist, and an anti-Semite, too.
Too bad the Kushners were vacationing (again) in Croatia and couldn’t attend. It would have been priceless to see their faces when daddy became unhinged.