Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Tears We Cannot Stop" and the Left's Need to Denigrate Poor and Ethnic Whites (Including Poles)

Tears We Cannot Stop is a book by a powerful man. He is peddling white guilt and black victimization. He demands money, aka reparations.

For his project to work, he must denigrate poor and ethnic whites. He singles out Irish people, Italians, Poles and Jews who have no right to tell their story or remember their own history. They are merely "white" and must plug into his "white skin is magic" narrative.

FrontPageMag ran my review of this book here.

You can read the full text of the review, below.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Deaths of Despair" among Poor Whites, Left-Wing Hostility, and Bieganski in the Wider American Scene

I wasn't able to find a photographer's name
to attach to this photo. 
Article by me, below, about recent research into "deaths of despair" among American whites, especially poor whites. Article first appeared in FrontPage magazine here. Article relates contempt for and hostility to poor whites to the Bieganski stereotype. 

"Deaths of Despair" and Left-Wing Hostility to Poor Whites' Narratives.

Where there Is No Vision the People Perish

In March, 2017, Anne Case, the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and her husband, Sir Angus Deaton, a Nobel laureate, gained much media coverage for their work. They reported that death rates are rising among those American whites who are classified as "working class," "non-college educated," or simply "poor." Suicide, drug addiction, and alcoholism cause a significant enough number of these anomalous deaths that the researchers dubbed them "deaths of despair." There is no similar rise in death rates among Europeans in roughly comparable socioeconomic cohorts, or African Americans or Hispanic Americans, whose death rates are improving.

Case and Deaton are economists. They seek the cause and the solution to the problem they describe in facts and figures. I seek the cause and any potential solution to "deaths of despair" in narrative: in the stories that people tell about themselves, and the stories their opponents tell about them. Abundant examples of warring narratives are readily found in the comments sections of online discussions of Case and Deaton's work.

In The Atlantic, the most popular comment is from an anonymous "middle-aged white man." He wrote,

"We feel downtrodden, but we don't even get to use the language of the oppressed since we're universally acclaimed as the oppressor. And we don't even get to take on the role of an oppressor since we're powerless. We used to be breadwinners, but now we're not. We used to be fathers, but more and more often our kids aren't with us. We're certainly not the heads of household … We've abandoned religion, so there's no hope of a reward in the next life. We have no faith in a government who doesn't seem to care about us … the world has passed us by and doesn't need or want us anymore."

Responses to this plaintive confession are unsympathetic. Posters allege that poor whites are racist, ignorant, lazy, junk-food eating, beer-swilling opiate addicts who cause their own problems by voting Republican.

One April, 2016 Salon headline reflects the attitude: "We Must Shame Dumb Trump Fans: The White Working Class Are Not Victims."

In December, 2016, after Markos Moulitsas advised his readers to rejoice over coal miners losing health insurance, The New Republic suggested, "Liberals Should Try Not Having So Much Contempt for the Poor."

In October, 2015, In These Times asked "Why The Left Isn't Talking About Rural American Poverty." Their answer: the left assumes "that rural white voters are racist and illiberal and intolerant" and unworthy of concern.

Case and Deaton's work on "deaths of despair" among poor whites is a challenging topic for me. As my fingertips hover over a silent keyboard, my guts begin to twist and my breath becomes shallow. I am poor and white. My father mined coal and carried rich men's bags at a country club. My mother was a cleaning woman and factory worker. My grandparents, in the Old Country, were peasants. There are no princes, bishops, or admirals in my family tree. There are lots of folks who withstood Nazis, Soviets, kulturkampf, and czars. As a child visiting Slovakia I met an aunt who was gang raped by Red Army soldiers and I saw the beaten, animal look in the eyes of my loved ones when talk turned to the Nazi occupation.  

By merely mentioning left-wing prejudice against poor, white people, I risk being demonized as a flesh-and-blood embodiment of the very stereotype I am attempting to reject. I must be a KKK member. Silencing me earns the silencer points as a Politically Correct knight – not in white – oh, no, not in white – but in multicultural armor.

There isn't even a name for what I am trying to describe, no "Islamophobia," "transphobia," "looksism," or "ableism." Liberal contempt for poor whites is the hate that dare not speak its name. What do you call someone who chooses to condemn people he dislikes as "white trash," "rednecks," "Bohunks," "honkies," "crackers," "hillbillies," "greasers," "trailer trash," "Okies," or "knuckle-dragging-wife-beater-t-shirt wearing Neanderthals"? Possibly you call him "professor," "author," "congressman," "minister," or "late night comedian." Maybe you call him "Mr. President." During his successful, 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama told wealthy donors in San Francisco that poor whites are bitter xenophobes who cling to guns and religion. One blogger paraphrased Obama's message as, "Vote for me, you corncob-smokin', banjo-strokin', chicken-chokin', cousin-pokin', inbred hillbilly racist morons."

Yes, right-wingers support cutting government programs, and right-wingers can be snobs. But a right-wing person's ideological adherence to small government, free market principles, or even merely his own fist tightening around his earnings that the taxman craves to requisition is one thing. What I have felt in encounters with some-not-all leftists is something different. While the left protects some groups with speech codes and concepts like "microaggression," ugly slurs against poor whites are met with laughter – or a sense of righteousness. Not only is it okay to mock poor whites; doing so elevates the virtue status of the speaker. Why? Left-wing hostility to poor American whites is not caused by mere chance, but by real conflicts in how left-wingers and poor whites tell their respective stories.

During the mass immigration c. 1880-1924, the left passionately courted coal miners, steel smelters and garment workers. Marx wrote, "Workers of the world, unite!" but these immigrants didn't want to identify as workers. They identified as Poles, or Italians or Americans, or Catholics. And they didn't especially want to unite with other workers. In spite of robber barons' harsh treatment, the immigrants wanted to succeed at capitalism, not overturn it. Marx wrote that religion is the opiate of the masses, but these immigrants clung to their faith.

I tasted some of poor white's rejection of leftists' unrequited love back in the 1980s, when I was a fellow traveler with Manhattan's card-carrying communists. "Don't you see," a comrade instructed, "when chivalrous Polish men kiss your hand, they are silently demanding that you use those hands to wash dishes?" Being a Polish-American woman who runs a clean home is a cherished part of my self-identification. I could never adopt his ideal of a communist woman, who, apparently, is anti-dish-washing.

I repeatedly pelted my comrades with this question: Marx taught that the onset of the dictatorship of the proletariat was an historical inevitability. Communism was so appealing to the workers that humanity would eventually evolve into the workers' paradise. And yet, no one was less interested in bringing on communism than the workers themselves. Communism smashed "bourgeois" values. Free love, violence, and sedition were all morally acceptable. But in left-wing thought, there was original sin, and that sin was rejecting communism. American workers were not only uninterested in reading my comrades' free pamphlets, American workers, by ignoring Marx and living by capitalist and Christian values, were deeply immoral.

My comrades replied to my question by identifying themselves as the "vanguard," a more advanced and more enlightened version of the working class. It was the vanguard's job to bring the workers into alignment with the party. They were, in short, an intellectual and moral elite whose goal it was to educate, lead, and save American workers. Working class Americans were not yet quite smart, moral, or trustworthy enough to run their own lives. The vanguard's self-definition condemned American workers to a contrasting definition: "You reject us because you are stupid."

The left realized that poor whites were not embracing them. They moved on to more revolutionary populations. Poor whites were abandoned for blacks.

Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, himself a black man, remarks that young African Americans, as a group, perform worse than other groups academically, and yet they have among the highest self-esteem. Why? Their positive self-image "has powerful support from some of America's largest corporations." Drugs, crime, sexual conquests, and hip-hop music earn blacks "a great deal of respect from white youths." American culture has worked hard to elevate the self-esteem of African Americans, and to marginalize any critique of them. When poor whites attempt to adapt to and succeed in American capitalism, leftists dismiss them as contemptible, counter-revolutionary suckers. Patterson describes powerful whites rewarding blacks for playing the role of the outlaw. Blacks who don't play the outlaw, from Booker T. Washington to Sidney Poitier to Ben Carson, are derided as "Uncle Tom."

The left has shown that it can abandon blacks, too, and move on to even more revolutionary Muslims. In 2010, black journalist Juan Williams said that when he sees passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes, he gets nervous. NPR fired Williams for this comment. NPR's president, Vivian Schiller, publicly stated that Juan Williams, because he fears Muslims on airplanes, requires the ministrations of a psychiatrist. 

The left's self-definition as a vanguard who is leading the less enlightened masses to a Utopian future plays into another, related reason why the left has such a problem with poor whites. It's a blunt and primal urge: everyone wants someone to feel superior to. African Americans traditionally supplied that need in the US. The Civil Rights Movement rendered taboo overt displays of white-over-black. The need to feel superior to someone did not disappear. Poor white people filled the gap. Two kinds of poor white people, Poles and Southerners, were selected as epitomes of everything that was supposed to be wrong with the entire class.

UC Berkeley folklorist Alan Dundes described how Polak jokes suddenly became popular in the 1970s, shortly after the previous decade's Civil Rights advances. Dundes wrote, "Lower-class whites are not militant and do not constitute a threat to middle-class white America ... with the Polack [joke] cycle, it is the lower class, not Negroes, which provides the outlet for aggression and means of feeling superior."

Poet Lloyd van Brunt is from the south. He, too, saw the Polak joke as an expression of contempt for all poor whites.

"Unlike blacks and other racial minorities, poor and mostly rural whites have few defenders, no articulated cause ... And they have been made to feel deeply ashamed of themselves – as I was. This shame, this feeling of worthlessness, is one of the vilest and most self-destructive emotions to be endured. To be poor in a country that places a premium on wealth is in itself shameful. To be white and poor is unforgivable ... That's why I call them the Polish-joke class, the one group everybody feels free to belittle, knowing that no politically correct boundaries will be violated ... trying to hide some shameful secret, some deep and unreachable sense of worthlessness ... is the legacy of America's poor whites."

This culture-wide treatment of poor whites as inferior is so powerful poor whites resort to it themselves. As a graduate student, I worked on the Polak stereotype. One day I was seated at a staff table with other university personnel. One of my peers proudly remarked that she had received her degree at one of the best universities in the South. The following words popped out of my mouth, "'The South' and 'best university' cancel each other out."

Everyone at the table laughed, except for the Southern woman. Her face fell. I had hurt and humiliated her in public, and no one at the table had the sense to come to her defense, and to chastise me.

It took me years to recognize that in the same way that my fellow Americans had been brainwashed into unquestioningly accepting prejudice against Polaks like myself, I had been brainwashed into unquestioningly accepting prejudice against all Southerners.

Not only did I feel it was acceptable to make such a nasty comment to a peer and friend, I felt righteous doing so. I had been brainwashed to locate the sin of racism in the South. By making fun of a Southerner in public, I was avenging Emmett Till. More on this point, below.

White working class culture, or cultures, are simply different. My grandparents didn't speak English. Two of them could not read or write. I've been hungry enough that I think throwing food away is sinful. In a million, similar, small ways, I am culturally closer to other low class whites, from north or south of the Mason Dixon line, than I am to middle class people.

Rich liberals have learned, at least publicly, to interpret black people's cultural differences as "different not worse" and often "different and better." Black people are soulful, musical, good athletes. Illiterate black grandmothers are griots, warehouses of unique tribal wisdom. Illiterate white grandmothers are slobs, proof of poor whites' inferiority.

When I served in Peace Corps in Africa I saw this romanticization and exoticization of non-whites run amok. I knew a volunteer, a daughter of two Ivy League professors and a descendant of Mayflower arrivals, who hired an African man to clean her house, because, as she told me without any hesitation, she enjoyed watching his scantily clad, heavily muscled black body performing domestic chores. She was a thoroughgoing political liberal.

Recently a wealthy, liberal friend remarked to me how much she admires and envies black and Hispanic women's body attitudes. "They parade their fat in midriff-baring tops and spandex tights, even if they have cellulite." She found this beautiful. For herself and her family, this friend maintains a strict regime of diet and exercise. She keeps her husband and children slim with Fitbits, a fridge full of wilting kale, and, affixed to household surfaces, notes recording weights, exercise routines, and optimal food choices. 

This romanticization of "people of color" may have reached the point of self-parody in the opening sentence of best-selling author Emma Donoghue's 2017 book, The Lottery Plus One: "Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman. The two couples became best friends and had a baby together. When they won the lottery, they gave up their jobs and found a big old house where their family could learn and grow." This fantasy would lose its allure if it were about "cisgendered," working class whites. Who wants to read about Stan and Heather and Frank and Jane, who work at Walmart and live in Buffalo?

Having black friends earn points for rich liberals. Poor white friends earn scornful glances and inquisitorial questions: "Slumming?" Once I visited a friend's summer home. His spinster aunt was weirdly protective of her handsome young nephew. Every vocabulary word, every item of clothing, every food choice, made me feel like a witness in the dock giving high-stakes testimony to prove a case I never really understood. I had never eaten lobster; indeed, I had never been on premises where lobster was served. I tasted and it found I didn't like it. Scandalous! I went to bed early. I heard my friend's "liberal" aunt harangue him, in a voice certainly loud enough for me to overhear. "What's this all about? What's she doing here? She is not our type. She lives in New Jersey. And not the desirable part. I've never heard of anyone like us living there." I rose at dawn and left, truncating my visit. John and I had been friends for a year – but I had never met his family, nor visited his exclusive zip code. John's aunt won. We never spoke again. I've not eaten lobster since, either.

With the power of the new invention, TV, the Civil Rights Movement tarnished white supremacy. TV brought police dogs and lunch counter hooligans into American homes and changed how we assessed Jim Crow. Rejection of American racism was propelled with America's horror over Nazism's crimes committed in the name of a master race. We came to understand racism as America's original sin. We needed a scapegoat – someone to be blamed for that sin. Empowered whites chose poor whites as that scapegoat, as their trash receptacle. Numerous observers, writing in the 1970s, noted how popular culture was beginning to insist that racial prejudice was a phenomenon to be found exclusively among poor, not rich, whites. These observers also pointed out that when it came to real, measurable behavior and attitudes, poor whites were no more racist than rich ones. Sociologist Richard Hamilton's "Liberal Intelligentsia and White Backlash," which appeared in Dissent in 1972, sounds like it could have been written today. "In the world view of liberal intellectuals, those persons who share decent and humane values form a tiny minority standing on the edge of an abyss … there are so few people who share those values." Not included among those who share decent values are "the dangerous white working class." Hamilton cited a series of opinion polls proving that working class whites are not the bogeyman that the liberal intelligentsia were making them out to be.

In Archie Bunker, Norman Lear, a Hollywood producer, put race hatred in the mouth of a fat, cigar-chomping, working class slob in Queens. South of the Mason-Dixon line, somehow slavery and Jim Crow became, not a blot on rich white landowners, but on the kind of poor white sodomizers, idiot-savant banjo virtuosi, and inbred cannibals and serial killers who inhabited the Grand-Guignol fantasies of Deliverance, Prince of Tides, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Racism has been contained – in the bodies of poor whites. Like hazardous waste, we must be quarantined.

Of course there are racists among poor whites, as there are among rich ones. But liberals use a distorted, self-serving metric to differentiate between racist and non-racist. When it comes to how one talks about race, there are differences between poor whites and rich, white liberals. In this instance, poor whites are again defined, not as black people might be, as different-but-equal or even different-and-superior, but rather as different-and-sinister.

I have lived among black people all my life – my childhood next-door neighbors and playmate were black, and I live in a majority-minority city now. To me, black people are no better or worse than anyone else, and I employ no conversational kabuki to talk to or about black people. There are no Magical Negroes in my narratives.

"A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged," quipped Irving Kristol. Given statistical realities, poor whites are more likely to have been victims of black crime than rich white liberals. There is an historic, silenced narrative in New Jersey. Many Italians, Jews, and other immigrants' children, all of them over fifty years old, have recounted to me detailed narratives about their family arriving in the US, struggling to reach home ownership in Newark, Paterson or Camden, and being driven out after their white child was singled out for a beating by black bullies, or their store was burned, or their street hosted a National Guard tank. They know these details of their biographies are taboo, so they merely speak these stories, and never commit them to print. These stories are whispers, and when the tellers die, they may leave no trace.

In print, in official narratives, in college classrooms, in journalism, all of these working class Italians, Jews, and Irish are simply racists. When blacks began to move to northern cities, those city's white residents engaged in an historic "white flight" whose only motivation was white supremacy. The official story is that poor whites are ignorant racists who remade American demographics and ruined American cities with their irrational hatreds.

Economically better off and liberal whites are more likely to have had ancestors who owned slaves, killed Indians, or exploited natural resources. They may have had black servants. They are more likely to suffer from white guilt. As Shelby Steele describes, rich and liberal whites expiate their guilt by becoming the magnanimous saviors of blacks. They do this through government programs like welfare and affirmative action. They assume that all whites should feel as they do – that high taxes and government programs are the only non-racist approach.

Poor whites are much more likely than rich whites to experience any of the goods of life – home, wealth, achievement – as coming after lifetimes of hard work, delayed gratification, self-sacrifice, and stoically swallowing biblical amounts of insult, frustration, and disappointment. Poor whites may conclude that African Americans' surest route to advancement is through right-wing solutions like a work ethic rather than through left-wing solutions like government handouts. Given this, poor whites are likely to be positioned as the philosophical and economic opponents of rich white liberals' narrative of white guilt and its expiation through paternalistic government programs.

I have never seen my rich, white, liberal friend "Tom" interact with a black person. I've attended parties at Tom's house with dozens of guests, all of them white. Tom proves his virtue by adopting stilted speech codes when discussing black people. 

When I say to Tom that I think that LBJ's Great Society may have damaged the black family and developed a crippling dependency, Tom reacts as if I had said, "Let's go lynch someone." He has concluded that I am a hardcore white supremacist because I question welfare. Tom doesn't give me enough space to mention that I reached my conclusion at least partly by reading the work of black economists, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams.

Poor whites cannot tell their own life stories in a left-wing environment. If they attempt to do so, poor whites must be silenced, or, most generously, "corrected."

I attended college decades ago, shortly after the Civil Rights successes of the 1960s, and during the rise of the Polak joke, and the evil redneck Southerner as the most reliable go-to cinematic villain. Deliverance was released in 1972, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974, and The Deer Hunter, about a bunch of working class, rust belt Bohunks who are somehow single-handedly both responsible for and victims of the Vietnam War, was released in 1978.

Like a lot of poor whites, I attended a "non-selective" school. We worked as waitresses, gas station attendants, and landscapers, took a shower, and went to class. Our professors, with Ivy League degrees and attitudes, held us in open contempt. In English classes, we were assigned to read, of course, the canon: Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Hemingway. We were also assigned to read works newly appearing on college syllabi, like The House on Mango Street, about Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, and The Color Purple. Our professors divided the world into elite whites and struggling, noble "people of color." I was never assigned anything that reflected the life I or my friends lived. There were no struggling white people on our syllabi. No one like my mother who worked two minimum-wage jobs: running a noisy, stinking wick machine in a candle factory during the day and cleaning offices at night. My mother told me that she once saw a police officer kick my downed father in the stomach. This story could not be told at college; in the professors' world, only black men were ever mistreated by police. There were no white girls like me who worked full time as nurse's aides, attended school full time, and got straight A grades. No, I enjoyed "white privilege," the equivalent of a comic book hero superpower, that magically protected me from all harm and delivered into my lap whatsoever my heart desired.

My friends and I survived on contraband wordsmiths we passed around with urgency, as if they were bits of bread in a distant prison. I didn't learn of Anzia Yezierska, Jean Shepherd, Jack Kerouac, Bruce Springsteen, or Dorothy Allison from teachers; I learned about them from friends, and they kept me going. When I mentioned to my betters how much their work meant to me, I was given little lectures about why their work was not "art."

If we told our stories, our professors' stories, about rich, empowered whites and struggling, noble minorities, would crumble. We poor, white college students were not allowed either sympathy for our struggle nor pride in our successes. If we had to work menial, minimum-wage jobs, it was because that was all we deserved. If we got A grades in spite of lives that left us exhausted and tuition bills that left us eating potatoes for a week, we got those A grades because we were privileged.

The white privilege dogma receives religious defense. Even for the purposes of discussion, it cannot be questioned. Somewhere some poor white person is trying to tell a liberal that he had to defy odds and work very hard to acquire everything that he has. In response, the liberal screams, "Oh yeah? Well, slavery was much worse!"

The poor white person might respond, "I know. I've read Frederick Douglass' Narrative. I've also read John Guzlowski's Echoes of Tattered Tongues, about his Polish parents' enslavement under the Nazis. Have you? I've read about the Muslim Slave Trade that, in time, geography, and number of victims, dwarfs the Atlantic Slave Trade. Have you? I've read about my ancestors, who were serfs until 1861. Have you?"

The liberal, as sure as night follows day, will respond, "You are a beneficiary of structural racism!" "White privilege" and "structural racism" are no poor white person's superpowers; rather, they are rich liberal's kryptonite; they exist to erase poor whites' biographies.  

Leftist dogma locks poor whites into the bottom rung of a human classification system as rigid as the Darwinian hierarchy of species. Given how "privileged" poor white people's lives are, given "structural racism" that greases their chutes to pots of gold, if a white person has not succeeded, that person must be especially worthless. Right-wing people who invest in the Horatio Alger narrative do not imprison poor whites in such a rigid system. They believe that if we try hard, we can make it. Right-wing people, in my experience, unlike liberals, have no ideological need to silence poor whites' mention of their own struggles, or poor whites' pride in their accomplishments.

Finally, of course, contempt for religion supplies rich liberals with yet another a Politically Correct excuse for their contempt for poor whites. Not all liberals are wealthy or atheist, and not all poor whites are religious, but atheism is more frequently found among high-income people, and religiosity is correlated with poverty. Bill Maher has said that religion is "stupid and dangerous," and that Americans' belief in the Bible is "proof that this is a stupid country." Maher called the God of the Bible a "dick." Richard Dawkins compared religion to smallpox. Sam Harris called Christianity an "engine of stupidity." Christopher Hitchens said that people who believe in Jesus Christ would believe in anything. The Bible provides the most important, life-affirming narrative for millions of poor whites. To rich white liberals, the Bible is the opiate of the people and a seal of poor whites' stupidity.  

Rich liberal contempt for poor whites is not a victimless crime. Richard D. Kahlenberg has shown how Affirmative Action programs, meant to elevate African Americans, victimized poor whites – and disproportionately aided rich and middle class blacks, including recent African immigrants whose ancestors never experienced antebellum slavery or Jim Crow. Marie Gryphon makes the case that Affirmative Action has done more harm than good to African Americans. Princeton sociologists Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford demonstrated that "diversity" "punishes poor whites." Diversity programs are designed in such a way that poor whites and white Christians are underrepresented on elite college campuses. George J. Borjas, the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has shown that recent immigration trends have hurt poor whites.

I'm no Nobel-Prize winning economist. I don't know if any of the above cultural trends and hostilities contribute to shortening the lives of Case and Deaton's subjects. Whoever wants to address "deaths of despair," though, must at least take these trends into consideration.

Danusha Goska is the author of Save Send Delete



Sunday, April 9, 2017

"The Zookeeper's Wife" 2017: Strong Story, Fine Performance, Mediocre Film

"The Zookeeper's Wife" is a strong story. The 2017 film adaptation suffers from a weak script and direction that do not serve the story. Jessica Chastain gives a superb, understated performance as Antonina Zabinska, a real person. Antonina was a gifted zookeeper – why call her "wife"? – who helped save 300 Jews in Warsaw, Poland, during the Nazi occupation. She and her husband Jan were part of the Polish Underground and Armia Krajowa, or Home Army. The film is worth seeing to see their story, but it's just an okay film, not the great one it could have been.

Jessica Chastain is externally very beautiful and fragile-appearing. In her understated performance, she plays a resourceful, animal-loving Polish lady to perfection. She's the center of the film. All of the other characters are in the shadow of Chastain's central light.

Lutz Heck had the Nazi-goal of reviving extinct species like the aurochs and the tarpan – primitive cattle and horses. Heck participated in the looting of the Warsaw Zoo. He selected which animals he wanted shipped back to his own Berlin zoo. Heck also lusted after Antonina. She had to do a careful dance of manipulation of Heck to protect her activity saving Jews. Heck is played by Daniel Bruhl, who also played a lovelorn Nazi in "Inglorious Bastards."

Czech playwright Arnost Goldflam appears as Janusz Korczak, the author, broadcaster, children's rights advocate, physician, and overseer of an orphanage. Korczak famously stayed with his orphans rather than accept any of the many offers he received to be smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. The real Janusz Korczak was a slim man; Goldflam is portly. His appearance not only doesn't mesh with the real Korczak. Goldflam doesn't look like someone who'd been living under starvation conditions forced by the Nazis for the past three years. The scenes with Korczak and his orphans did make me cry, but they seem like a detour from the film's main narrative.

One problem the film faced: we have all seen Holocaust movies. Sad but true, during much of this film I was simply disinterested, waiting for it to show me something I had not seen in another film, to tell me something I had not yet heard. The film opens with Antonina happily taking care of her lion cubs, pregnant elephant, devoted young camel, and her son's pet skunk. We all know what will happen next: Nazi planes will bomb; Jews will begin to wear armbands. Brutality will increase and then there will be mass transports on trains.

Perhaps the film could have opened in media res, during the Nazi bombardment, and focused more closely on Antonina's interior life. The film tosses away references to her tragic history. Her parents were murdered by the Soviets and she had had to live on the run. Why not weave those facts into a richer portrait of the central character?

Poles who helped Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland had to scrounge food for their wards while they, the Poles, lived under forced starvation conditions. They also had to dispose of human waste without drawing any attention to themselves. The film never explores how the Zabinskis managed these considerable feats.

The film falls into a historically revisionist trap when it implies that Nazis were interested only in Jews, and Polish Catholics were allowed to live out the war in beautiful clothing. Nazis served Poles brandy in snifters and politely debated their actions. The film also implies that Nazi policies were in effect in Poland before the war began. Antonina and her son Ryszard see Jewish porters carrying heavy loads in Warsaw's market. Antonina makes a comment about how "they" are mistreating Jews. The scene is simply misleading.

Too, Nazis murdered and displaced more Polish non-Jews in the early days of the war than Polish Jews, but the film depicts Nazis as focusing almost exclusively on persecuting Jews. When the Nazi invasion begins, Jan makes a comment about how he has nothing against Jews. This is just a dumb thing for him to say. The bombardment of Warsaw was a thousand times worse than the film suggests. There are scenes were some herd animals are buried and others are set free in a forest. Poland was so desperate during the war that those animals would have more likely been butchered for meat, as happened to horses that fell in Warsaw's streets. The film just wants to tell a simple-minded, and false, story about privileged Poles and persecuted Jews. If the film had conveyed the threat the Germans posed to non-Jewish Poles as well as Jewish ones, the Zabinskis heroism would have been revealed as even more profound.

Poles fought much more than the film depicts. Jan Zabinski was a member of the Armia Krajowa, or Home Army. He taught in the underground university. He sabotaged trains and built bombs. None of this is shown in the film. Jan comes across as a hapless victim who can only stand by open-mouthed and watch as his wife attempts to twist lovelorn Nazi Heck around her sexy finger.

Polish-Jewish relations during the war were very, very, very complicated. I'm not using too many "verys." The film depicts Poles helping Jews, but it makes virtually no mention of Polish anti-Semitism. Not all Poles were heroes. Some betrayed Jews and their rescuers to the Nazis. In one scene, a Pole witnesses Antonina help a Jew. The Pole promises Antonina she will not betray her work. Had this eyewitness betrayed Antonina, the Nazis would have murdered the entire family, including Ryszard, the young son. These tensions and obstacles are only hinted at in the film.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Links: Jacek Miedlar, Blood Libel, Poles and Guns Photos, Poles Killed 200,000 Jews, Directly or Indirectly During WW II

A Facebook friend has been sending me links I don't have time to assess or blog about, so I will merely share them with you. 

Jacek Miedlar to preach in England against Islam. Link

Detained and prevented from speaking link

The Facebook page of the group for whom Miedlar was supposed to speak includes video of the event at which he was supposed to speak link

The Times of Israel refers to Miedlar as an anti-Semitic Polish ex-priest link

An accusation of blood libel in Poland. I can't access this page -- too many pop-ups and anti virus protection warnings. Link

Poles pose for photos with guns link

200,000 Jews killed, directly or indirectly, by Poles during WW II link

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Nazism and Christianity: A Response to Danusha Goska's Essay; Christians Bear Some Responsibility for Nazi Anti-Semitism

Source
Edwin Woodruff Tait, PhD, a Christian author, has responded to my essay "Against Identifying Nazism with Christianity." Dr. Tait disagrees with my main point. He argues that Christians bear some responsibility for Nazi Anti-Semitism. You are invited to read and respond to his work at John Guzlowski's Echoes of Tattered Tongues blog here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Against Identifying Nazism with Christianity


On January 4, 2017, news broke that four young Chicagoans kidnapped an 18-year-old, special needs teenager. The kidnappers bound and gagged their victim, beat and stabbed him, and forced him to drink from a toilet. The torturers streamed their acts live on Facebook. The assailants were black. The victim was white.

Within twenty-four hours, the meme #blmkidnapping "became one of the top five Twitter trends."

Those insisting on this connection made the following arguments. "Black lives matter" implied that white lives don't matter; BLM rhetoric, including "pigs in a blanket fry 'em like bacon" and the persistent "Hands up don't shoot" false narrative motivated multiple killings of innocent police officers. Lenient responses to riots in Ferguson and Baltimore signaled that elected officials were handing thugs a carte blanche. In short, Black Lives Matter was responsible for this heinous crime.

Police said that there was no proven link between the crime and BLM.

Two things are clear: only dispassionate investigation can establish causation, and people with an agenda are eager to link notorious behavior with groups they wish to stigmatize.

***

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports that anti-Semitism has plagued the world for two thousand years. The two-thousand-year limit identifies anti-Semitism, and, by extension, Nazism, with Christianity. The USHMM links Nazism to Christian theology. "Early Christian thought held Jews collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. This religious teaching became embedded in both Catholic and Protestant theology during the first millennium, with terrible consequences for Jews," the museum states.

Dabru Emet is a September 10, 2000 statement signed by over 220 Jewish rabbis and scholars. Dabru Emet states, "Without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism and Christian violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out."

Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said that the Nazis "had been reared under Christianity … that showed that there was no barrier in Christianity preventing the killers from doing their evil."

I do not believe that Nazi ideology and Nazi mass murder were dependent on or inspired by Christianity. I believe that Nazism could have arisen in a Europe without Christianity.

Suppose Greco-Roman Paganism dominated the European continent until 1933. Or suppose the Reconquista and Charles Martel failed, and Islam came to dominate Europe. I believe that Nazism could have claimed the same victims, in the same ways, in a hypothetical Pagan Europe or Muslim Europe.

In 1918, a virulent strain of influenza swept the world, killing three to five percent of the world population. Having had a cold or measles or any other disease beforehand had no impact on mortality; this particular strain of flu killed healthy, young adults. Nazism is comparable to the 1918 strain of influenza. Nazism's virulence was not dependent on or facilitated by previous societal plagues.

The reasons why I do not believe that Nazism was a Christian phenomenon are below.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Nazi-Occupied Germany: A Phrase to Exculpate Germany


The book "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype" shows how through folk and popular culture, history is manipulated to exculpate Germans and to indict Poles and other Eastern Europeans. This blog continues that work. 

Blog reader Sue Knight has just alerted me to a new wrinkle, one so devious I had never imagined it. The use of the phrase "Nazi-occupied Germany."

I thought that phrase so weird that it must have been used only once, in the BBC piece Sue mentioned. A quote from that piece: 


"But Bertha was one of the lucky ones. Back in Germany, Bertha's mother and father had made arrangements to escape from Nazi occupied Germany. In a dangerous journey they slowly made their way across Europe and in 1944, five years since they were last together, Bertha's family were finally reunited in England."

I was wrong. I googled the phrase "Nazi occupied Germany" and found thousands of instances, including from the past month, as here:

"Join Sonja Maier Geismar, a St. Louis survivor, in a conversation with Armando Lucas Correa, author of The German Girl, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion."

This phrasing exculpates Germans. They are not responsible for Nazism; they were "occupied" by something foreign over which they had no control.

In fact Germans were themselves the Nazis, and significant numbers of Germans voted for Hitler.

Ironically, the same media and scholars who refer to Nazi Germany as "Nazi occupied Germany" often refer to Poland, a country that was attacked, occupied, and all but destroyed, as being responsible for Nazi crimes committed in Poland, as in the phrase "Polish concentration camp" and other similar shiftings of responsibility and guilt.

Polonia would benefit from engaging in the public sphere and contributing to changes in how WW II is discussed. 


Friday, February 3, 2017

The Jewish Telegraph Agency -- and Neo-Nazis -- on the Five Million

The Jewish Telegraph Agency published an article focusing on the history of the "five million" number, rather than on the actual suffering and victimization of, and crimes against, millions of human beings.

The article's focus on a relatively marginal point -- the history of the five million number -- is inappropriate. It looks like an attempt to distract the reader from actual human suffering, and to trivialize that suffering by casting doubt on the number of victims. If part of the story is made up, maybe the entire story is made up.

What is needed is a recognition of these victims and a full humanity brought to ways to discuss these victims, while also recognizing that Jews were victimized by Nazis in ways that others were not -- a larger percentage of Jews than of any other group were murdered.

A neo-Nazi website I would prefer not to link here addresses the JTA article and says, paraphrase, see, the Jews are admitting that they made up the five million number just to get sympathy for Jews. No doubt they made up the six million number, too. This is unfortunate.

Neither number is made up. Both numbers reflect real history. The Wikipedia page on victims is here.

The USHMM's numbers are here.

Wikipedia attempts to chart deaths as you see, below.
Source

Bieganski at the Smithsonian


The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most prestigious, taxpayer-funded educational and cultural fixtures in American life. 

The Smithsonian Institution prides itself on being a champion of the oppressed, hosting, as it does, the National Museum of the American Indian, one of the most politically correct museums in the country, See my article here.

The Smithsonian also hosts the National Museum of African American History and Culture, that has a similar Politically Correct mission to present only one chosen aspect of African American history, and carefully to weed out any aspect of African American culture that would prove anything other than hagiographic. 

But the Smithsonian, for all its Political Correctness, is more than happy to disseminate the Bieganski stereotype of Poles as co-perpetrators with, not victims of, the Nazis. See Smithsonian article here that identifies Poles thus. "But whether the database will affect public opinion about Poland—and its involvement in one of history’s most heinous episodes—remains to be seen."

Polonia, you do this to yourself. You do not support your scholars and writers who have tried to work on this stereotype.

One can only weep. 


Please buy and read "Bieganski." Assign it in classes. Invite me to speak. Polonia, you have what you need -- you simply refuse to act. 




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Holocaust Denial, and Deborah Lipstadt

Post-war Warsaw, Poland
On January 30, 2017, The Atlantic published a piece by Deborah Lipstadt about the Trump White House's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

The White House statement is not very good. When I read it, it was impossible not to imagine the editor's pen in my hand. The statement opens with a cliché. The first sentence is missing a conjunction and the second sentence contains a split infinitive. I'm pretty sure that whoever wrote the speech wanted to use the verb "prevail," not the adjective "prevalent" in the final sentence. The statement is vague and no one could imagine that it is heartfelt.

The statement does not mention Jews. This struck me as a mistake. Later I learned that the author purposely did not mention Jews. This struck me as disastrous, and stupid.

But I've gone on and on elsewhere about Trump, and I don't want to do that here.

Rather I want to say that Deborah Lipstadt's article, alleging that the Trump White House is engaging in Holocaust denial, is itself a form of denial. Lipstadt is a Holocaust scholar who fought in court against a Holocaust denier. I wish I could admire her more than I can after reading her piece in The Atlantic.

Lipstadt writes that anyone who mentions non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust is maligning Jews and engaging in Holocaust denial: "Underlying this claim [that non-Jews suffered under the Nazis and that they should be mentioned] is the contention that the Jews are 'stealing' the Holocaust for themselves. It is a calumny founded in anti-Semitism."

This is an utterly outrageous statement. Lipstadt is close to accusing anyone who remembers non-Jewish suffering under the Nazis of a thought crime.

Lipstadt writes, "There were indeed millions of innocent people whom the Nazis killed in many horrific ways, some in the course of the war and some because the Germans perceived them—however deluded their perception—to pose a threat to their rule. They suffered terribly. But that was not the Holocaust. The Holocaust was something entirely different. It was an organized program with the goal of wiping out a specific people."

Poles were similarly targeted for extinction. Hitler's "Armenian quote" is famous. "I have placed my death-head formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Poles, like Jews, had been at the receiving end of centuries of aggression and stereotyping. Otto von Bismarck's quote about eliminating Poles is notorious. It has been translated in various ways. Here's one translation, "Hit the Poles so hard that they despair of their life; I have full sympathy with their condition, but if we want to survive, we can only exterminate them; the wolf, too, cannot help having been created by God as he is, but people shoot him for it if they can."

German aggression against Poles was part of a centuries-long process, drang nach osten.

Poles did not lose as large a percentage of their population as Jews did. That is a fact. It is also true that millions of Poles met fates comparable to that of millions of Jews: exile, impoverishment, deportation, torture, medical experimentation, or death. Poland lost huge stretches of territory and it was delivered, by its former allies, into the hands of the Soviet Empire and remained there for two generations after the war.

In saying these things, I am not a Holocaust denier. I am not accusing Jews of anything. I am merely stating historical reality.

In her Atlantic piece, Lipstadt never mentions Poles. She should have.

It seems to me that she, rather, is engaging in a form of denial – a denial of Nazi crimes against non-Jews, and a demonization of anyone who mentions those crimes.

I want to admire Deborah Lipstadt. I don't know how representative of her attitudes this piece is. I hope it is not representative.

FWIW, many in the comments section of The Atlantic shared my frustration at what felt, to me, like Lipstadt's callous dismissal of the suffering of non-Jews under the Nazis, and the complete evil of the Nazi plans for non-Jewish untermenschen: Gypsies, the handicapped, Poles, Soviets, other Slavs, homosexuals, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, dissidents, Christianity itself, and anyone I have forgotten to mention here, but whose life matters to me.

Statement by the President on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tim Kaine: Trump Admin Left Out Jews from Holocaust Remembrance Day

Steve Bannon

Update: John Podhoretz in Commentary said that the failure to mention Jews was intentional, and an effort at "inclusion." Source here.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday, January 29, 2017. A portion of the transcript is below. (Source)


Senator Tim Kaine said ....the irony is not lost on me that [the White  House restrictions on travel by Muslims into the US] was issued the same day as the White House issued their Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation that unlike any previous administration removed all reference to Jews. So you put a religious test on Muslims and you try to scrub reference to Jews in the Holocaust Remembrance. This was horribly, horribly mishandled. So it's not a pause in--

CHUCK TODD:

That's a tough charge--

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

--a traditional sense.

CHUCK TODD:

--Senator, that's a tough charge. You think it's more than a coincidence that it all happened on Friday?

SENATOR TIM KAINE:

I think all of these things are happening together. When you have the chief political advisor in the White House, Steve Bannon, who is connected with a news organization that traffics in white supremacy and anti-Semitism and they put out a Holocaust statement that omits any mention of Jews.

Remember, earlier administrations have done these statements. And so the first thing you do is you pull up to see what earlier statements have said. And the earlier statements, President Obama, President Bush always talk about the Holocaust in connection with the slaughter of Jews.

The final solution was about the slaughter of Jews. We have to remember this. This is what Holocaust denial is. It's either to deny that it happened or many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, "Oh yeah people were killed. But it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren't targeted." The fact that they did that and imposed this religious test against Muslims in the executive orders on the same day, this is not a coincidence.

Gdansk WW II Museum Not Polish Enough, PiS Claims

Source
The Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk was meant to be the first museum to tell the full story of WW II and to focus on victims, not military campaigns.

The currently ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) objects to the museum because it is not Polish enough. The fate of the museum is now uncertain.

The Associated Press reports:

The nationalist authorities governing the country believe the museum should focus on the uniqueness of Poland's tragedy and not be watered down by exploring the fate of other nations. A key spokesman for this idea, historian Jan Zaryn, who is also a senator for the ruling party, complains that the multinational approach taken by the museum makes it more difficult for the visitor to see "our exceptionality."

He argues that Poland should create something comparable to what Holocaust museums have achieved for Jews.

"After decades of silence there should be a museum that introduces the phenomenon and specificity of the Polish historical experience," Zaryn said in a televised discussion in October. "We should do something like what the Jewish community has done, which managed to arrange around the Holocaust all the other events of World War II."

But the museum's creators and supporters insist that the very act of placing Poland's history in the broader context is what will help foreign visitors understand and appreciate the specificity of Poland's tragedy.

"Sometimes when politicians look at the museum like this they don't understand how much conceptual work there was," said Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who is a member of the museum's advisory board.


"If this museum is lost, Gdansk, Poland, Europe, the world, loses the only chance we have for an experience of public history, for people from all of the world, not only in Poland, to understand the Second World War. That would be a dreadful civilizational loss."

Friday, January 27, 2017

"...and others."

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. The many non-Jewish Slavs the Nazis murdered as untermenschen will be mentioned. We are "...and others." 

This year, though, American's newly installed president declined to mention even Jews in his grammatically incorrect statement marking the day.

Photos below from The Atlantic "The Invasion of Poland






A Twitter Account Dedicated to the St Louis Passengers

A Twitter account names the St Louis passengers and tells their fate. See here

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Germany, I Owe You an Apology



I really, really, really never thought I'd say this: I owe the German people an apology.

I was about five years old. I was sitting on the couch in the living room with my brother Greg. We were wearing our matching nightgowns that my mother had sewn. They were bright red, bell-shaped, with bell-shaped sleeves. Mommy had originally made them as the angel costumes for a Christmas pageant. Greg and I were engaged in innocent play. Hard to believe, given how distant we became as adults, that we used to be each others' default playmate.

The small, black-and-white TV was on. And suddenly I was wrenched out of the evening, out of playtime, out of that warm cozy feeling kids experience when they've gotten through the day without being eaten by a dragon. Childhood is not only a time of abundant wonder, it's a time of rich and easy gratitude.

I can see, in my mind's eye, the images on the TV screen. Skeletal corpses, stacked one atop the other. The camera moved quickly. Its speed worsened the violation, the horror. If I saw a pile of corpses like that, I would not move quickly. I would have to stop, and it would be a long time before I could move again, and some part of me would remain in place before that sight forever, I think.

And I wouldn't be dedicated to *seeing* the corpses, and displaying them to others. I would want to try to rescue them, at least by covering their nakedness, and placing them under dignified headstones.

My mother hadn't planned for me to see this on TV, but I had, so she had to explain. She did. "This is what THEY did to US."

And that's how I understood the Holocaust, Nazism, World War II, for the longest time. What THEY did to US.

My mother was born in a country that no one could spell, and both my parents came from countries that were part of the world threatening, in the Cold War, the country in which I was living, we were poor, and there was one language in the house and another outside it. I very much grew up in a world of US and THEM.

Czechoslovakia had come to be only after 1918 and the end of WW I. Before that my people lived under the Austro-Hungarian Empire that burned Slovak schools and aristocrats who lived off, and oppressed, the peasants. Czechoslovakia's birth as a country was a big deal to my mother.

When her homeland was only twenty years old, THEY gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler. My mother thought of her birthplace as Hitler's first victim.

Czechoslovakia may or may not deserve that title. One thing is clear, though. The world should have done something in 1938 when Hitler was clearly a threat, and the world did not.

On September 30, 1938, THEY signed the Munich Agreement handing Czechoslovakia to Hitler, and signaled to him that he could do any vile thing he wanted and meet minimal resistance.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, "the man with the umbrella" gave a speech in London. "The question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe … [I bring] peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." I wonder how many of the cheering Londoners would later be trying to get a nice quiet sleep only to die in the Blitz.

They should have taken Hitler on then. They didn't. "Anglo-German relations" superseded consideration for the Czechs and the Slovaks.

THEY – not just Germans, but the Western world, did that to US.

My mother told me about the Slovak man, Jozef Gabcik, who, with his Czech partner, Jan Kubis, assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, the highest ranking Nazi to be killed by the resistance. My mother told me about Lidice, a village in Czechoslovakia, that was erased from the map in retaliation for that killing.

I hated Germans.

It's funny; I live during a time of powerful political correctness, ostensibly all about stopping prejudice, but no one has ever given me a hard time over my most carved-in-stone prejudice.

I've traveled in a dozen or so European countries. Never Germany. If I am listening to classical music on the radio and I can hear recognizably German lyrics, I get up and cross the room to turn the radio off.

Otto's essay "Ripples of Sin" was the first chink in my anti-German armor. Reading that essay, I felt some budge in my anti-German prejudice.

OTOH, I read about WW II regularly, and it's inescapable – the Germans mass murdered people. They. Not us.

Now, I think, my anti-German prejudice is finally dead. Here's why.

I recently posted a review of Richard Weikart's excellent new book, "Hitler's Religion." The book makes clear that neither Nazism nor Hitler was Christian.

The reaction to the book astounded me. Readers of the review insisted the opposite: clearly Hitler was a Christian and Nazism was carrying out Christian values.

I've been working on a blog post that addresses these wacky assertions that both Hitler and Nazism were Christian. In composing this blog post, I've been revisiting the history of the Third Reich. WW I, the Versailles Treaty, the stab-in-the-back, the Reichstag Fire, "we knew nothing": I knew about all this before, but I've been seeing it differently as I compose my piece.

Suddenly I'm getting it, in a way that I never got it before, that atrocity really isn't a German thing. Atrocity isn't a Christian thing. Atrocity is a human thing.

Of course I knew that before. But composing this blog post about Nazism not being Christian brought this awareness to the forefront of my mind. It was like a math problem. You have two. You have another two. You put them together. It's inescapable. You get four.

You hate that four. You rage against that four. You want to blame that four on German national character or Christianity or the man with the umbrella. That provides an escape. This isn't about you. It's about them. The Germans, the Christians, whoever.

You can't. It's math. Two plus two equals four. And human nature is human nature.

Humiliate people. Kill a lot of them in a pointless war. Burn the Reichstag. The kind of thugs who you only registered before as the weirdos on the edges of your high school memories suddenly attain a prominence that they never would achieve in normal times. Suddenly they are at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night causing you terror and pain. And you agree to close your eyes to anything they ask you to.

I fortuitously tuned into "Playing God," a Radio Lab broadcast I had heard before. The previous time I heard it, it didn't really register. This time, it did. It addressed journalist and doctor Sheri Fink's Pulitzer Prize winning reportage of what happened at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina. The hospital lost power and sewage. Over the course of the next five days, hospital staff decided to euthanize patients. It took just five days without electricity for them to reach the conclusion that killing the unfit was their only course of action.

And something else happened while I was working on this piece addressing the "Nazism = Christianity" canard. Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president of the United States.

First, only Hitler was Hitler. No serious person says that Trump is another Hitler.

That fact doesn't excuse us from blinding ourselves to the parallels.

For me the parallels played out on Facebook, and they demoralized me and I may never see humanity in the same way again.

People I liked. People I trusted. People I thought of as intelligent, as decent, as Christian. Some Jews. Voiced their support for a personality disordered conman who disseminated anti-Semitic memes and Mussolini quotes, a man who cozied up to the KKK, a man who acknowledged that he was a serial sexual assailant, a man who mocked women for menstruating and lactating, a man who called for death for the Central Park Five *after* they had been exonerated by DNA evidence, a man who praised a dictator who murders journalists and may have poisoned with dioxin the head of a neighboring country.

Surely my nice, decent, intelligent, Christian, Jewish, Facebook friends would never support Trump.

But they did.

Because they felt humiliated and threatened by political correctness and ripped off by "socialism" – aka Obamacare.

The day Trump was sworn in, three different Team Trump Facebook friends called for death to Clinton voters. We have more guns than they do, they bragged. I want a "body count" of anti-Trump protesters, one Trump supporter said. Follow up posts repeated the call for body counts. And of course Team Trump is calling for an abrupt end to Obamacare, without any replacement. That will, of course, result in some deaths.

And these are people who have never seen war fought over their own soil, who are well-fed and have roofs over their heads and live in the undisputed richest and most powerful country on earth.

Germany, I owe you an apology.