Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Nazi Re-enactment" [Anthony McCarthy]

And They're Running for Congress.

This news is really disturbing.

Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite, who for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments.

Iott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself "Wiking", whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking", which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II. Iott's participation in the Wiking group is not mentioned on his campaign's website, and his name and photographs were removed from the Wiking website.

I'd not realized that there were "Nazi re-enacters" . But it's something that shouldn't be a surprise. Confederate "re-enactment" is disturbingly common. And like that Civil War dress up and play hobby, the Nazi side of WWII "historical re-enactment" is really a falsification and distortion of what happened. These guys are a lot bigger on getting the details of their costumes right than they are with telling the truth about the historical record. It's bad enough to conveniently overlook that the Confederate side of the Civil War was fighting to maintain slavery and white supremacy a century and a half ago. To sanitize an SS unit of the Nazi army whose crimes are within living memory, in Ohio, is shocking.

The Republican Party has a disturbing and largely suppressed history of involvement with Nazis and former Nazis and the allies of Nazis. It's clear from this incident that involvement didn't die with the cold war and that the continued suppression of history is not a harmless matter of politeness to some of our more powerful people and families. After the crimes of the Nazis were committed and revealed, what might have been merely naive in the 1930s, becomes morally abhorrent.

People who falsify history almost always have a malignant agenda and that agenda almost always favors some form of inequality based on identity. The denial of the history of slavery in New England was essential for the assertion of the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon protestant elite of the 19th and early 20th century. The even more absurd denial of the place of retaining slavery in the Confederate rebellion played an important part in the retention of Jim Crow, semi-slavery well into this century. The lies about the real history of women under patriarchy is about the biggest lie in history.

These lies are perpetuated in novels and theatrical fiction, which are the primary substitute for historical information in the United States. With TV those the presentation of false history as mass entertainment has turned it into powerful propaganda. And those falsifications have a social and political effect. Denying that effect is also a lie, one of the favorite lies of the educated elite today. But causes have effects and so do intentions that can be put into effect. Falsifying the intentions of those who acted in history is essential to denying the effects of their actions. And that falsification can have the same results independent of the intentions of those telling the lies. Falsely romantic tales of the South told by hack writers for Hollywood with no more intent than to get paid have probably done more to perpetuate racism than all of the unreadable academic falsification effort put together. This stuff isn't harmless.

If Iott isn't forced to withdraw on the basis of his involvement with glorification and falsification of the Nazi SS, for God's sake, then we are in real danger from this. Having someone who is engaged in the falsification of the history of the SS in congress is not tolerable.