Monday, November 01, 2010

With Friends Like These...

A guest post by Kylopod

It appears that John Boehner is planning to campaign for Rich Iott, the Nazi-impersonating congressional candidate.

It's important to understand how offensive this is: the problem is not that Iott participated in historical reenactments, which are perfectly legitimate, or even that he dressed as a bad guy. The problem is that the whole reenactment is invested with significant historical revisionism that views these SS officers admiringly and makes only the vaguest references to the crimes they committed. The website contains a disclaimer disavowing support for either neo-Nazis or the original Nazis and condemning "the atrocities which made them infamous." What it does not do is make any mention of the Holocaust, Jews, or even genocide.

This approach to the war is Holocaust minimization, a soft form of denial that doesn't engage in any outright conspiracy-mongering about a Holocaust "hoax," but nonetheless describes World War II in a way that greatly downplays the crimes of the Nazis in an effort to make the two sides seem somehow equivalent. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Iott argued that we shouldn't judge these officers because they were doing what they thought was right, that the SS unit he was reenacting had never been charged with war crimes (in fact, one member was recently charged with the murder of 58 Jews), and that "Horrible things...happened on both sides." If you think Iott makes a single mention of the Holocaust during this interview (other than a bare statement that he doesn't deny it), I've got a tea-bag to sell you.

After the refreshing disavowal of Iott by Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, I find Boehner's decision to stick by this guy pretty sickening. It brings to mind another story recently about the Emergency Committee for Israel, a lobbying organization that is supposedly devoted to getting pro-Israel candidates elected ("pro-Israel" in the most hawkish, right-wing sense) but in practice seems more interested simply in getting Republicans elected:
If ECI genuinely cared about electing pro-Israel members of Congress, it would launch big money campaigns against Tea Party candidates, such as Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the source said.

Toomey, for instance, has twice voted against foreign aid packages, which are widely viewed as principal pro-Israel litmus tests, as they include large amounts of financial assistance for the Jewish state. (According to the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, Toomey said that he "feels Israel no longer needs economic aid, and should simply receive military assistance.")

Pollak, however, defended Toomey, noting that he voted against foreign aid not out of hostility toward Israel, but "as a matter of larger fiscal principles. He has never shown a particular animosity toward Israel -- far from it."
In short, vote Republican because the Republicans are better for Israel, but vote Republican even when they aren't better for Israel. If that confuses you, don't worry about it, just vote Republican.

What we need to understand is that a lot of the Israel talk by Republicans is not done for the sake of Jews. It is for the consumption of Christian Zionists who vastly outnumber their Jewish counterparts and who aren't necessarily even "pro-Jewish," as can be seen from Pat Robertson's bizarre views.

Or, to paraphrase James Baker, we don't vote for Republicans anyway, so we might as well go be fruitful and multiply.

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