By Brian Bethune - Friday, December 14, 2012 - 0 Comments
Most people are aware of what the Nazis hated: modern Western culture in general, especially ideals of religious and racial equality, and Jews, seen as the bacillus most responsible for spreading those toxic concepts, in particular. Less well understood is what the Hitlerites admired. The Nazis, or at least the true believers among them, did not see themselves as the murderous nihilists they were, but as defenders of “true”—meaning mystically transmitted by race and blood—Western art and culture. They didn’t just have their cultural enemies—Sigmund Freud, say, who combined Jewish ancestry with repulsive ideas—but their cultural heroes, too, most notably Hitler’s idol, anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner.
Dennis, a historian at Loyola University in Chicago, examined two decades of cultural war as waged by Nazi theorists in their party’s official newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter. A lot of what he found, were it the product of basement-dwelling Internet cranks rather than men about to unleash a tide of unparalleled barbarism, would be comic.
Take the case of Beethoven, whom—to Hitler’s disgust—the vast majority of Germans revered far more than Wagner. He was German, all right, but his father was a severe alcoholic and, according to Nazi social policy, should have been sterilized long before he begat Ludwig. Not to worry, Nazi Beethoven devotees, wrote Bonn professor Ludwig Schiedermair. If Johann van Beethoven “gladly drank wine and punch and once in a while offered girls little kisses in jest,” it was only because he was from the alcohol-loving Rhineland, where they understood that sort of zesty living. Foreigners, annoyingly enough, had to be admitted to the pantheon if enough Germans admired them. It helped, of course, if there was any record of anti-Semitic remarks on an outsider’s part: The Merchant of Venice, far more than Hamlet, brought Shakespeare into the fold.
In the end, though, what Dennis found was not comic at all: a long and depressingly successful campaign to convince Germans the Third Reich was the purification of Western civilization, not its antithesis.
By Alan Parker - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 5:10 PM - 0 Comments
A leading British political magazine has branded German Chancellor Angela Merkel “Europe’s most dangerous leader” and compared her to Adolf Hitler.
The cover of the current issue of the left-leaning weekly New Statesman depicts Merkel as The Terminator with prosthetic eye and leather jacket and asks: “Will the German chancellor relent before she terminates growth and pushes us into a new Depression?”
In the accompanying article, published Wednesday, New Statesman senior editor Mehdi Hasan goes further: “Merkel is the most dangerous leader since Hitler.”
Hasan says the “fiscal self-flagellation” of austerity measures Merkel insists some of Germany’s European Union partners adopt are “destroying the European project, pauperising Germany’s neighbours and risking a new global depression.”
Hasan also characterizes Merkel as the world leader who “poses the biggest threat to global order and prosperity” — more dangerous than Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Merkel’s office said, “We do not comment on such matters.”
Reaction in both Britain and Germany has so far been muted, but the president of the World Jewish Congress immediately leaped to Merkel’s defence.
Ronald S. Lauder condemned the New Statesman for what he called a “despicable and totally unfair attack.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Lauder said: “To compare the democratically elected leader of today’s Germany with the brutal dictator Hitler is revolting and sickening. Not only is Chancellor Merkel a committed European, but there are few statesmen in Europe who have done more for Israel and the Jewish people.”
The New Statesman was honoured in 2009 as News Magazine of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Repeating that war settles nothing, Mr. Woodsworth declared: “I rejoice that it is possible to say these things in a Canadian Parliament under British institutions. It would not be possible in Germany, I recognize that … and I want to maintain the very essence of our British institutions of real liberty. I believe that the only way to do it is by an appeal to the moral forces which are still resident among our people, and not by another resort to brute force.”
… In the end, addressing his own historic motion for war, the prime minister said: “There are few men in this Parliament for whom I have greater respect than the leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. I admire him in my heart, because time and again he has had the courage to say what lays on his conscience, regardless of what the world might think of him. A man of that calibre is an ornament to any Parliament.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
Twice this week—see here and here—Stephen Harper saw fit to lament that a precursor to the NDP hadn’t supported World War II. A Conservative backbencher, Scott Armstrong, was sent up before QP this morning to directly attack JS Woodsworth and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird then repeated the citation in response to an NDP question about extending this country’s mission in Afghanistan (both Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Baird invoking Hitler by name).
It is true that Mr. Woodsworth, leader at the time of the CCF, the party that would become the NDP some 22 years later, opposed Canada’s involvement in the war. Mr. Woodsworth was a pacifist. But he was also the only member of the CCF to oppose the declaration of war. Indeed, he was the only MP in the entire House of Commons who opposed the motion. Major James Coldwell, who would soon thereafter succeed Mr. Woodsworth as leader of the CCF, supported the declaration. As apparently did a young CCF MP named Tommy Douglas.
This is not the first time a Conservative has raised Mr. Woodsworth’s vote as something the current NDP needs to answer for. Here is Jason Kenney, then of the Canadian Alliance, raising the issue in 2003. At the time, Mr. Kenney was advocating for the use of a “credible threat of force” against Iraq.
Meanwhile, Mr. Harper’s reading of history inspired something of a Twitter meme yesterday and the NDP duly sent up Dan Harris before QP today to inform the House of the highlights. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 4:29 PM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair opened QP this afternoon with a look back to what the Prime Minister had said yesterday about what the United States had or had not requested of this country in Afghanistan after 2014. Mr. Mulcair wondered if Mr. Harper would confirm that Canada has had no contact from the United States about extending the mission. Mr. Harper stood and said that he said he had not received such a request.
The leader of the opposition then moved on to the question of whether or not an extension would be brought before Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister stated: “All of the military missions committed to under this government have come before the House.” However, that is not the case, and he knows it. The last extension in Afghanistan was authorized by the Prime Minister acting alone.
In his seat across the way, Mr. Harper turned to Peter Van Loan with a look of confusion on his face. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM - 0 Comments
Last Tuesday, Conservative MP Larry Miller compared the long-gun registry to Hitler. He quickly apologized, but a day later he stood by the merits of his comparison. Irwin Cotler subsequently demanded he be sanctioned and so Larry Miller rose in the House this morning to once again clarify his Hitler analogy.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I believe that some members in this House and the media misunderstood the point I was making last week during debate when I argued that the confiscation of firearms is often the first thing that authoritarian governments do. While calls and e-mails of support from my constituents and from Canadians across the country indicated that they understood the point I was trying to make, and I do stand by my beliefs, but because of my respect for the House, I want to reiterate my withdrawal of the remark and apology for referencing two individuals in the way I did.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:57 PM - 0 Comments
“While I retracted my comments, the similarities between the two are very clear and you can’t convince me of otherwise. But it’s obvious the media didn’t have much to write about yesterday because that was the hot-button issue. So just in order to take the buzz off and what have you, I partially retracted the statement in the house,” he said …
“While the similarities between the gun registry and what Adolph Hitler did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear and obvious, it was inappropriate for me to point those out in the House of Commons,” he said Wednesday. “And I went on to say that I apologized to anyone who was offended, but the truth is the truth and what he (Hitler) did at the time was his men went around and collected all the guns from the Jews. So I was just pointing out the similarities. That didn’t happen in Canada, but it could have and that’s one of the reasons there’s been such an uproar against the gun registry in this country. So that’s the end of it.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
Larry Miller makes sure the last hours of debate on the long-gun registry don’t pass without a Hitler reference.
It appears the quote he cites is also in some dispute.
Update 4:23pm. After QP, Mr. Miller rose with the following point of order.
Mr. Speaker, earlier today in this House I was speaking on Bill C-19 and I referred to and used the name Adolf Hitler. While the references to the gun registry and what this evil guy did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear, it was inappropriate to use his name in the House and I apologize to anybody it may have offended.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 6, 2012 at 9:55 AM - 0 Comments
Roland Paris considers the Harper government’s rhetoric on Iran.
Yet it is also a position that most experts on Iran would judge as dubious at best. This may be the reason why no NATO country other than Canada, to my knowledge, has made such a bold and questionable assertion. Indeed, it is especially jarring at a moment when our closest ally, the United States, is counseling restraint.
I know the prime minister does not care that Canada is out of step with its allies – that he takes pride in taking stands on principle, and in the fact that his government will not “go along to get along.” In this case, however, his “principle” is really just idiosyncratic speculation—and dangerously provocative speculation at that.
On Friday, the Prime Minister said that, “for the first time in history, we are facing a regime that not only wants to attain nuclear weapons but a regime that has, compared to virtually all other holders of nuclear weapons in the past, far less fear of using them.” On Sunday, John Baird invoked Hitler.
By Brian D. Johnson - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:19 AM - 8 Comments
Lars Von Trier sure knows how to generate publicity. At this morning’s press conference for his competition entry, Melancholia, he did his best to downplay the merits of the film, saying, “Maybe it’s crap. Of course, I hope not. But there is quite a big possibility that this is really not worth seeing.” He went on to joke about how his next project would be an epic hardcore porn movie with Melancholia stars Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who flanked him at the press conference and acted amused. After 20 minutes of this, I bolted to catch a repeat screening of Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre. I figured that Von Trier was pretty much done. But by the time I got out of Le Havre (which is a gem), there was outrage about Von Trier all over the Internet. However, it was not about anything he’d said when I was there. He had embarked on an incendiary tangent near the end of the press conference. He talked about discovering, to his regret, that he was not Jewish, then mused that he could find some sympathy for Hitler and concluded: “Ok, I’m a Nazi.”
Now, I wasn’t there, but I can only assume the Danish enfant terrible was as serious about this Nazi stuff as he was about making hard core porn with Kirsten Dunst. But you joke about Jews and Nazis at your peril; just ask Mel Gibson. Von Trier said, “I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out I was really a Nazi, because my family was German, Hartmann, which also gave me some pleasure.” He went on:
“What can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. . . I think I understand the man. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews. . . I am of course very much for Jews. No, not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass. But still . . . how can I get out of this sentence? OK, I’m a Nazi.”
Apparently Dunst and Gainsbourg were no longer amused. But Von Trier couldn’t let go of it. When a journalist charitably tried to bring the discussion back to the movie, asking if he might direct something on a bigger scale, he said, “Yeah, we Nazis … have a tendency to try to do things on a greater scale. Maybe you could persuade me.” He then made a crack about the press conference being the “final solution with journalists.”
It’s a perverse a way to publicize his movie, a sensitive tragedy about the end of the world that could be accused of many things, but is probably the least controversial of Von Trier’s films. Maybe he was trying to make up for it.
Melancholia is the story of an ill-fated wedding that takes place in a vast seaside chateau surrounded by its own 18-hole golf course. Dunst plays the miserable bride, Gainsbourgh her sister, who is married to the wedding’s benefactor, a cold-blooded tycoon played by Keifer Sutherland. What looms over the entire story, however, is the approach a planet called Melancholia, which is on a lethal collision course with Eart. The film is preceded by an exquisite overture of super slow-mo, painterly images—from Dunst in a vast wedding dress, dragging herself across a golf green and sinking into it like quicksand, to an image of the bride floating like Ophelia.
To be sure, something is rotten in the state of this state of Denmark, but the malaise is cosmic. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 3, 2011 at 12:03 PM - 23 Comments
Shortly after the Nov. 25 byelection, Fantino drew fire when he drew comparisons between the campaign and Hitler, a comment he says was taken out of context.
“A lot of this is show business and taking things out of context,”Fantino said. “What I did … refer to a process that I experienced and not cast aspersion on any particular person … That whole passage of history is unpleasant. And some of the things that happened to me on my campaign were unpleasant too.”
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 23 Comments
Winning votes with a message of religious intolerance
There was never any doubt that Geert Wilders could talk the talk; this most disagreeable Dutchman, head of Holland’s far-right, anti-immigrant Freedom Party (PVV), is famous for mouthing off—mostly against Muslims. (He is famous for equating the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and for claiming that “Islam is the cause of all our problems.”) The question has always been: could he walk the walk? Well, he’s walking. And there’s new concern that he could walk his way to the prime minister’s office.
During the Netherlands’ local elections last week, the PVV made major gains—carrying the city of Almere and placing second in The Hague. In no time, critics and supporters alike were painting those local victories as a sign of what is to come when the country holds national elections in June. Said Wilders, in a victory speech on Wednesday: “Today Almere and The Hague, tomorrow the Netherlands. We are going to take the Netherlands back from the leftist elite that coddles criminals and supports Islamization.”
His plan to “conquer the entire country” is ambitious—but Wilders’s pledges to “ban the Quran,” unleash “urban commandos” on city streets, and uphold “Judeo-Christian values” are selling well in a country torn apart over immigration policy. A new poll projects that, in June, the PVV will nab more seats than any other party.
Marc Chavannes, a Dutch journalist and professor, laments that his country “is certainly not showing its best face.” Elsewhere, the broader repercussions of a win for Wilders are being sized up. Some express their concerns obliquely: a column in the U.K.’s Telegraph wondered if “Geert Wilders [is] the new William of Orange,” the 17th-century Dutch prince who took the British crown—sweeping in, at the invitation of Protestants, to prevent a Catholic dynasty from ruling the land. Others feel no need to mute their disquiet: shortly after Wilders’s municipal victories were announced, Germany’s Die Tageszeitung newspaper featured a front page photo of Geert Wilders smiling broadly—with a taped-on Hitler moustache.
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 11:20 AM - 5 Comments
Americans love dissent as much as they love freedom, and half as much as they love gravy
Americans have a way of achieving the impossible. They unlocked the power of the atom. They put a man on the moon. They convinced the world that Sarah Jessica Parker is attractive. And now they’ve topped themselves: they’ve found a way to take the staid, tedious political town hall meeting and make it interesting. The secret ingredient? Angry, angry people.
Forty years after hippies, peace and Woodstock, the United States is experiencing its Summer of Shove—a debate over health care reform characterized by vitriol, physical confrontation and thoughtful exchanges along the lines of “Up yours” and “No, up yours.” And then everyone calls everyone else a Nazi and goes home. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 5, 2008 at 11:34 AM - 73 Comments
You know, when I wrote the other day that questioning someone’s patriotism was roughly equivalent to comparing them to Hitler, I should have known that this week would not pass without a reference to Adolf’s Germany.
If reports are accurate—I didn’t see the interview in question, standing as I was in the cold outside Rideau—congratulations are thus due to Liberal Derek Lee who decided yesterday to raise the Nazis’ burning of the Reichstag in 1933.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at 1:40 AM - 55 Comments
I’d read about the sound that comes from a boxing crowd right before a major fight, but I didn’t fully understand it until I covered a fight (Mike Tyson’s last as a professional, oddly enough). There is a barely concealed blood-lust to the noise that rises up—a palpable, common desire to see someone grievously injured, an anxious excitement at the prospect of what violence may unfold before our eyes. It was, in my single experience, legitimately frightening.
The cacophony in the House of Commons this afternoon wasn’t quite like that. But that this afternoon was even vaguely reminiscent of that sound is probably enough to conclude that we are now in a dark, and perhaps dangerous, place.
“It was a fine day to be a parliamentarian,” Chuck Strahl said afterwards, selflessly surrendering his claim to be among the reasonable members of this government. Continue…