Sunday, December 30, 2018
In his review, Times of Israel blogger Van Wallach calls "God through Binoculars" a book of "brutally honest" "keen insights" and notes its connection to my work on Polish-Jewish relations.
Read Wallach's review here.
"God through Binoculars" is available at Amazon here.
London Times Writer Giles Coren Used Fake Polish Twitter Account to Send Anti-Semitic Tweets, Independent Alleges
The Independent alleges that London Times food writer Giles Coren created a Polish twitter account to send anti-Semitic tweets. Read more here. Thanks to Chris for sending this in.
Sunday, December 23, 2018
Read more here and here
|On the left, Kazik (Simha Rotem). |
On the right, Stefan Szwarski,
a Pole whose aunt hid Kazik in her house after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
In the background, behind them, Antek (Yizhak) Zuckerman. Source
Monday, December 17, 2018
The Tablet points out that African American author Alice Walker endorsed a horribly antisemitic book ... and the New York Times, which published this endorsement, let that go without comment.
If a Pole or Polonian made any such endorsement, you can bet that the NYT would comment.
Read more here.
If a Pole or Polonian made any such endorsement, you can bet that the NYT would comment.
Read more here.
Author Bruce Bawer reviews God through Binoculars here.
"A beautiful mind produces a luminous memoir," he writes.
The book has much Polish content. I sincerely hope a Polish publication will review it as well at some point.
Again, as a special offer to Bieganski readers, if you order a copy of GTB, I will send a copy of the Polish-language version of Bieganski to anyone in the US. As long as supplies last.
"A beautiful mind produces a luminous memoir," he writes.
The book has much Polish content. I sincerely hope a Polish publication will review it as well at some point.
Again, as a special offer to Bieganski readers, if you order a copy of GTB, I will send a copy of the Polish-language version of Bieganski to anyone in the US. As long as supplies last.
Monday, December 10, 2018
"Think Eastern Europe is Authoritarian? Try Germany and France," writes Paul Gottfried in the American Conservative, here.
Friday, December 7, 2018
I prepared this video for students so it is quite basic. Covers the same material as the book review, here
How New Age Were the Nazis? What Eric Kurlander's Hitler's Monsters Brings to the Civilizational Debate.
I had a lot of trouble posting this. Blogger added white space around the words and italicized words I did not italicize. Please let me know if you read this and find any problems with the text itself, for example missing words.
Or you can read the entire piece at Front Page Magazine here
How New Age Were the Nazis?
What Eric Kurlander's Hitler's Monsters Offers to the Civilizational Debate
Nazis play a major role in the culture wars. Anyone arguing for the value of Western Civilization, the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Enlightenment, and the heritage of the Ancient Greeks will eventually be confronted with the Nazis. If cultural relativism is wrong, if it is wrong to say that Islam or Communism or New Age are not all equally valuable options on the cultural menu, then what about the Nazis? After all, the Nazis were Christians, weren't they? Wasn't the Holocaust informed by Christian theology? How dare Western Christians criticize jihad or communism's purges? You have the worst crime in history on your team's scorecard.
About that claim that the Nazis were the worst. The Nazis were compulsive record keepers. Hollywood directors and Soviet cameramen participated in the liberation of concentration camps. Their films have been required viewing for generations of students. We lack comparable documentation for others' crimes. When I inform students of the cost of the establishment of communism or the advance of jihad, they indicate to me that they have never been exposed to these facts before. Historian Stephen Kotkin's conservative estimate is that communism cost 65 million lives, while historian David Satter estimates that "the greatest catastrophe in human history," killed 100 million. Bill Warner estimates that the death toll from jihad is 270 million. His figure is controversial, but supported with citations. Any other honest estimate will be similarly overwhelmingly vast. Tamerlane, the fourteenth century "Sword of Islam," is estimated to have killed five percent of the entire population of the world. There are two hundred million untouchables, or Dalits in India, and, even as India modernizes, their victimization continues. Hinduism mandates that Dalits must suffer to pay for their sins in their past lives. On November 17, 2018, The New York Times ran an account of a Dalit scalped by higher caste Hindus. Yes, worldviews besides Nazism have resulted in mass graves. We are less aware of those mass graves. So we assume that Nazism's mass graves are the worst.
If the Nazis did not carry out their crimes as integral and predictable expressions of Western Civilization and Christian theology, what did ground them? What were their guiding beliefs and principles? The extent to which Nazism was informed by neo-paganism is made clear in Eric Kurlander's 2017 book Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, published by Yale University Press. Hitler's Monsters is a dense, ambitious, scholarly tome. There are over one hundred pages of footnotes and bibliography. Kurlander acknowledges that previous authors have documented Nazism's involvement with New Age ideas and practices, and he draws on these authors' work. Kurlander also acknowledges that without the perfect storm of historical circumstances exploited by Hitler, including Germany's defeat in WW I, the punitive Versailles Treaty, and the Depression, Nazism probably never would have risen to power. And Kurlander notes that New Age beliefs don't cause a believer to become a Nazi. But Kurlander is unafraid to state the importance of his research. "No mass political movement drew as consciously or consistently as the Nazis on … occultism and … pagan, New Age, and Eastern religions, folklore, mythology … Without understanding this relationship between Nazism and the supernatural, one cannot fully understand the history of the Third Reich … Hitler's Monsters is the first book to address this rich, fascinating, often extraordinary relationship from the party's origins to the end of the Second World War … the Third Reich would have been highly improbable without a widespread penchant for supernatural thinking."
You can get a sense of what the Nazis believed by walking through any given New Age store. On such a visit, you will encounter astrology, reincarnation, hypnotism, Chinese massage, and yoga how-to books, next to homeopathic flower "cures," vegetarian recipes, and magical gardening manuals advising you to harvest your crops in tune with the movement of celestial bodies. There will be alternative histories of the universe and planet Earth, including books about the lost city of Atlantis. For teens, there will be lurid witch, vampire and werewolf novels.
Allegedly "non-fiction" books will inform you of your secret, spiritual Tibetan or Indian ancestry or past lives. The Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu classic, will be in an honored place. There will be books by or about Madame Blavatsky and Nostradamus, as well as Zoroastrian, Zen, Shinto, and Buddhist scriptures. Friendly pamphlets will extol the virtues of Islam in contrast to degenerate, oppressive Christianity. There will be a "serious," "scholarly" tome insisting that witches were descendants of a pagan nature religion, and that the witch trials were really the Catholic Inquisition's efforts to wipe out paganism.
Gurus will promise that Enlightenment concepts like objective reality and the scientific method are mere dogma created and exercised by lesser minds. These gurus will insist that you are somebody special, with a special destiny, and you need not be hidebound by conventional reality, science, or religion. Only lowly people believe in objective reality. You can use the power of your will to create any reality you want. Gravity is for lesser mortals. You can levitate.
Continuing your stroll through the New Age shop, you will encounter invitations to worship Satan. Satan is misrepresented by those stuffy, Christian prudes. Why should you, as special as you are, obey a God who orders you to rein in your appetites? Satan will strengthen your wildest urges. You'll find materials on ley lines, special magical places exuding special geographic magic known only to a privileged few. You'll find out how to use ancient runes in divination, and how to dowse, that is, how to find water, lost objects, and magical energies using only a forked stick.
Now imagine yourself a top Nazi, a Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels or Hess. You'd buy every single one of these products. Himmler "carried around with him" the Norse Edda, the Hindu Vedas and Bhagavad Gita, and the speeches of Buddha. Nazis participated in orgies aboard a yacht named after "The Indian goddess of love" the "Aryan Schakti [Shakti]." Nazi yoga. Nazi Buddha. Yes. The Nazis were that nuts. And they were that New Age.
An eclectic mélange of New Age beliefs and practices were in the roots that vomited up Nazism's toxic tree. These beliefs and practices were harnessed to support Nazism's most consequential, and most evil, acts. These beliefs and practices inspired daily life in concentration camps, human medical experimentation that violated every tenet of ethics and reason, weapons research and development, and military decisions. New Age beliefs and practices influenced Nazism's bloody demise. Any understanding of Nazism that does not include New Age's influence on Nazism is incomplete. Any understanding of New Age that does not take into consideration its influence on Nazism is incomplete.
Not all Nazis were interested in New Age beliefs, and not all Nazis were interested in all expressions of New Age. Some might prefer astrology; others homeopathy. On May 10, 1941, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess, known as "The Yogi from Egypt," after consulting an astrologer and inspired by a supernatural dream, flew to Scotland in an attempt to make peace with the British. He was captured and imprisoned. Less than a month later, beginning on June 4, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Main Security Office, launched the "Hess Action." Heydrich wanted to purge the occult from the Nazi party as well as the general public. Heydrich's timing of the Hess Action indicates how seriously he took the issue. Heydrich initiated the Hess Action two weeks before Germany's ultimately disastrous invasion of the Soviet Union. As a result of Heydrich's action, some astrologers ended up in concentration camps. Some of those same practitioners were later released and went to work for top Nazis. Curt Munch was released from Sachsenhausen in order that he could use his psychic powers to locate Mussolini.
Hitler himself, Kurlander argues, didn't want to restrain the occult because it was meaningless; he wanted to limit and control common people's access to the occult because of its power. Goebbels exemplified this power-centric approach to the occult. Goebbels used Nostradamus for propaganda purposes.
Decades before Hitler arrived on the historical scene, many German seekers had partially or completely rejected Judeo-Christian cosmology, morality and worldview. They also rejected Enlightenment values and the scientific method's insistence on objective facts. Many chose to find meaning and structure in pre-Christian paganism, Eastern religions, and new gurus like Madame Blavatsky. The Brothers Grimm, Wagner's folklore-inspired operas, Nietzsche's philosophy, and Herder's writing on nationalism are partial expressions of, and, in turn, inspirations for, these trends. Kurlander writes, "Folklore, mythology, and neo-paganism rushed to fill an important gap in the German spiritual landscape, helping to occupy 'the transcendental realm of mystic life' vacated by Judeo-Christian traditions … Folklore and mythology facilitated fascism." "By the end of the nineteenth century, folklore, mythology, and Ario-Germanic religiosity was etched into the consciousness of millions of ordinary Germans." In this search for new paradigms, universal values were rejected in favor of moralities based on identity, place, and race. "I am a German, therefore I should or I can …" might be the preface to any moral statement.
The senseless mass destruction and humiliating defeat of WW I, and rapid modernization and upheaval, helped the previous century's turn to nationalism, magic, myth, and folklore take center stage. Nazis saw a ripe opportunity to jettison the past, adopt a scorched earth mentality, and impose their new paradigm. In his 1930 book The Myth of the Twentieth Century, Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg declared the "collapse" of all that had come before and a "new dawn" and a "new faith" a "new light" a "new mission:" "blood and blood, race and race, folk and folk." "That is the task of our century; to create a new human type out of a new view of life."
Social Darwinism and biological racism were interwoven with New Age spiritual beliefs. Not only would old, impure ideas be jettisoned. Human beings deemed racially unfit to participate in superior souls' upward thrust to perfection also had to be eliminated. "'One could insist that the race to which one belonged had primarily to do with one's degree of spiritual maturity' … the lost civilization of Atlantis was considered to be the prehistoric source of divine (possibly extraterrestrial) racial and spiritual perfection," writes Kurlander, quoting another author about Theosophy, a New Age belief system that predated, and influenced, Nazism's rise. "Cosmic eugenics" blessed the destruction of that "'which is unworthy to take part in the ascent of humanity … Humanity has risen by throwing out the lower forms in order to purify itself … dark skin is due to demonic interference' … Luciferian remnants' must be elevated 'as a wise guiding force left behind for the evolution of mankind in general' … Nazi religious theorists would make nearly identical arguments," Kurlander says, quoting another New Age author who also wrote decades before Nazism's rise. Other New Age thinkers, again, decades before Nazism, advocated selective breeding, and the elimination of inferior races and the handicapped. This culling was supported by a New Age theory that humanity was the result of breeding between angels and animals. Nordic people contained a higher percentage of angel. Indeed, New Age thinkers (and Friedrich Nietzsche) adopted a Hindu caste system term, chandala, for "untouchable" to talk about "lower races."
A weakening of the influence of Judeo-Christian morality and a return to pagan norms appeared to be foreseen by at least one concerned observer. German poet Heinrich Heine, who was born Jewish but converted to Lutheranism, wrote in 1834 that "When once the taming talisman, the Cross, breaks in two, the savagery of the old fighters, the senseless Berserker fury of which the Northern poets sing … will gush up anew … the old stone god will rise from the silent ruins and … Thor, with his giant's hammer, will at last spring up and shatter to bits the Gothic cathedrals."
Hermann Rauschning, a former Nazi, diagnosed Hitler's success. "Every German has one foot in Atlantis[and one in Tibet], where he seeks a better fatherland." Pre-Nazi New Age societies and thinkers sometimes voiced their awareness that Hitler was mining and benefitting from the paths they had paved. The Thule Society, or Study Group for Germanic Antiquity, was founded in 1918. Its purpose was an unsavory mix of biological racism and flakey, folkloric concepts of German origins. The Thule Society symbol was a swastika, an ancient, pagan symbol often found in Hindu and Buddhist art. Thule Society member and fan of Nordic folklore and "the wisdom of India," Dietrich Eckart, argued that the "racially superior 'Indo-European people' had been corrupted by the 'Jewish desert spirit' embedded in mainstream Christianity." Eckhart said on his deathbed that "Hitler will dance, but it is I who will call the tune." In other words, Eckart and other New Age Germans saw Hitler as fulfilling their goals. Germany's occult magazines supported Hitler, even before he took power. They lent whatever legitimacy they had to his seizure of power by predicting a "'world turning'" "'Third Reich'" lead by "'a single prophet who preserved the German essence against all odds.'"
Top Nazis were not only not believing Christians, they were anti-Christian and determined to extirpate Christianity from their Reich. As Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach said, "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist movement." Alfred Rosenberg dreamed of a day when "Nordic sagas and fairy tales will take the place of the Old Testament stories of pimps and cattle dealers." Nazism's anti-Christian, pagan worldview was obvious to contemporaries. Christopher Dawson, "the greatest English-speaking Catholic historian of the twentieth century," warned in 1935 that Nazism could "develop a mythology and ethic" that may "take the place of Christian theology and Christian ethics." On January 13, 2002, Joe Sharkey, writing in The New York Times, reported on then-recently released documents outlining "How Hitler's Forces Planned to Destroy German Christianity."
In addition to rejecting, and hoping to overturn, Christianity, Nazis also rejected the Enlightenment ideal of objective reality. Konrad Heiden, a historian of Nazism, said that Nazism incorporated a hodgepodge of political theories. Only one feature was consistent throughout, Heiden claimed. Nazism rejected objectivity and causality; it rejected "a world in which causal links work themselves out independently of transcendent forces." That very essence of Nazism can be seen in this quote from Hitler. "We do not judge by … purely scientific standards … We judge by the spiritual energy which a people is capable of putting forth … I intend to set up a thousand year Reich and anyone who supports me in battle is a fellow fighter for a unique spiritual – I would almost say divine – creation. At the decisive moment the decisive factor is not the ratio of strength but the spiritual force employed." Nazism, in the words of author Peter S. Fisher, "erased the boundary between fantasy and reality." Nazis wanted to replace Darwinian evolution, Einstein's theories and Genesis with World Ice theory, that described Aryans as "gods come directly from Heaven to Earth."
Rudolf Olden was an anti-Nazi journalist. In 1932, he published Prophets in the German Crisis: The Miraculous or the Enchanted. Olden insisted that Nazism's rise was linked to "a German preoccupation with the supernatural, exacerbated by war, defeat, and depression," as Kurlander summarizes Olden's work. Politics, according to Olden, is "'an eternal struggle between rationality and the miraculous … when rationality comes under pressure" it becomes "mute, it is eaten by doubt, it emigrates or is restricted … the predominance of miraculous forces' had marginalized 'everyone that wants to think rationally.'"
Hitler read kinky author Ernst Schertel 1923 book, Magic: History, Theory, Practice. It is one of the most underlined books in Hitler's personal library. Kurlander quotes Schertel as expressing ideas very similar to the record-breaking, international New Age bestseller, The Secret, published by Rhonda Byrne in 2006. Both Schertel and Byrne insist that thoughts can alter physical reality. In his 1913 book Totem and Taboo, Sigmund Freud called this notion "omnipotence of thought." Freud described it as foundational to animism. Animism is the religious belief system that all primitive humans probably believed in at one time, before the advent of the Big Five, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Animism posits that each thing has its own spirit, and that humans can change material reality through relationships with those spirits.
Schertel mocks the concept of objective reality, and insists that invisible realities supersede visible ones. Kurlander quotes Schertel: "It would be 'senseless to counterpoise the empirical perceptions as real opposite the fictive conceptions of the demonic' Schertel explained, 'for the empirical world is also fictive, resting on an imaginative synthetic foundation.' What materialists deemed 'empirical reality' Schertel suggested, was 'in its roots demonic – or magic in nature.'" Schertel called objective reality a "jugglery of fantasy." After escaping the bonds of reality, the adept could "intervene in this structure, that is to say change the world according to our will … to create reality where no reality exists."
To claim the power that awaits the adept, he must reject objective reality and invest in the omnipotence of thought, what Schertel called "an "accumulation of potential and kinetic world energies … the first stardust" aided by Satan himself. Hitler underlined passages about Satan in Schertel's book. "Satan is the fertilizing, destroying-constructing warrior … He who does not carry demonic seeds within him will never give birth to a new world." Another underlined passage: "Horror always lurks at the bottom of the magic world and everything holy is always mixed with horror." Schertel described objective reality as a prison that makes it harder for practitioners to access their special powers. This formula, again, one highlighted by the reader Adolf Hitler, constitutes a rejection of the Enlightenment, for which objective reality was supreme, and Judeo-Christian morality. As described by Freud, this rejection of objective reality and insistence on the primacy of omnipotence of thought constitutes a return, as the Nazis themselves hoped for, to a pre-Christian, pre-Enlightenment, pagan worldview.
Contemporary New Agers, and Christophobic polemicists, purposely misrepresent the history of the European Witch Craze. As New Agers tell it, "During the Middle Ages, the misogynist Catholic Inquisition murdered nine million women because they still practiced a pre-Christian, pagan religion. The witch craze only ended when enlightened atheists were able to convince Catholic clergy that it was irrational." One can find variations of this so-called history in respected media. These include Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English's classic feminist manifesto, Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, Michael Shermer's The Moral Arc, and the Canadian documentary The Burning Times. Problem: not a word of this formula is accurate. Modern scholars point out that the witch craze did not take place in the Middle Ages, but rather in the Early Modern Period, perhaps 40,000 died, and the witch craze was a neighbor-on-neighbor atrocity. Women often accused other women. At least two Catholic priests, Friedrich Spee and Alonso Salazar de Frias, played roles in ending the witch craze. And Salazar, a.k.a. "The Witches Advocate," worked for – wait for it – The Spanish Inquisition.
Where did the false narrative emerge? One avid disseminator of the false witch craze narrative was SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler. Himmler founded a "Special Task Force on Witches" whose job it was to collect, through purchase or theft, archival material about witches. The SS Witch Division accumulated nearly thirty thousand documents. Himmler wanted to research how the "dominant Aryan-Germanic religion of Nature" could "be defeated by the decadent Jewish-Christian religion." Witches were the "guardians of the German faith" and "natural healers" of German sagas. For New Agers, and for Nazis, "Witches became earth mothers, practitioners of an ancient Indo-Germanic religion that the Catholic Church … the true monster … sought to eradicate." "My ancestors were witches and I am a heretic," declared SS Obersturmfuhrer Otto Rahn. Himmler commissioned "'witch novels in the form of a trilogy.'" Himmler, just like pagans today, cultivated a sense of victimization around the witch craze. "The 'martyred and torn apart bodies of our mothers and girls burned to ashes in the witch trials'" were called upon to justify the mass murder of Jews. Because, of course, Jews controlled the Catholic Church, and Christianity sprang from Judaism.
Vampires, spoken of as if real, were associated, in propaganda, with "Polish danger." Czechs, Serbs, and Jews were also demonized using vampire imagery. "Slavic vampirism became a metaphor for racial degeneration and political disintegration. Racially degenerate Slavic and Jewish vampires met their match in the heroic Aryan." One group victimized by the Nazis that is rarely mentioned are Serbs, and yet the USHMM statistics indicate that Nazis murdered more Serbs than handicapped people, Gypsies, aka Roma, and Jehovah's Witnesses, other victim groups more frequently mentioned. The mass murder of Serbs and other Slavs, like the mass murder of Jews, was facilitated by propaganda depicting Slavs as vampires. In contrast to Slavic vampires, Nazis encouraged each other to regard themselves as werewolves. Over Goebbels' Radio Werwolf (sic), listeners could sing along to lyrics encouraging them to bite and eat their enemies. Some lyrics: "I bite. I eat. I am not tame."
All aspects of Nazism, including the most evil, were somehow interwoven with some aspects of New Age thinking. "The Third Reich embraced a range of pagan, esoteric, and Indo-Aryan religious doctrines that buttressed its racial, political and ideological goals." Leading parapsychologist Hans Bender, whose work involved researching poltergeists, joined the Nazi Party to advance his own career and "knowingly countenanced" evil medical experimentation "to preserve the funding and independence" of his own research. He continued his career as a famous parapsychologist after the war and died peacefully in 1991 at age 84.
Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and Dachau concentration camps all had biodynamic gardens. These were based "'on a holistic view of the farm or garden as an integrated organism comprising soil, plants, animals, and various cosmic forces, with sowing and harvesting conducted according to astrological principles.'" The gardeners rejected fertilizer and pesticides, relying instead on "'homeopathic preparations meant to channel the etheric and astral energies of the Earth and other celestial bodies.'" "Berlin's athletic fields for the Summer Olympics were treated biodynamically."
New Age ideas were consulted in the most pressing military decisions. "Even during the most desperate moments of the war, Nazi science was as preoccupied with faith-based fantasies of 'absolute conceptional boundlessness' as it was with practical military technologies... one can only speculate as to how much more effective German armaments production might have been without this Nazi proclivity for miraculous thinking." The Berlin Pendulum Institute attempted to locate enemy battleships by suspending a pendulum over toy battleships located on a large map of the Atlantic. This methodology returns to primitive magic as described by Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough. Frazer described homeopathic magic, the primitive belief that something that looks like something else has magical power over that something else. This same idea is behind voodoo dolls. Fantastic hopes for, and promises of miracle weapons encouraged Germans to continue fighting long after the war was lost.
Kurlander writes, "The Holocaust was only possible in its scope and severity because of the elision of biopolitical and circumstantial factors with volkisch-esoteric, fantastical, even magical conceptions of Jewish monstrosity." "Pagan and occultist" images were used to demonize Jews. "This conception of the Jews as simultaneously a biological threat to the racial body politic and vampiric monsters operating outside the bounds of humanity, invited, in turn, all the more radical and totalizing solutions to the Jewish question."
In the final days, Himmler was inseparable from his astrologer, consulting him on all aspects of the war. Goebbels looked to Nostradamus to find reassuring prophecies. Hitler owned an original copy of the prelude to Wagner's Gotterdammerung, or the Twilight of the Gods, and its nihilistic mythology helped to inform the Nazis' behavior. On March 19, 1945, a bit over a month before his suicide, Hitler issued his so-called Nero Decree, urging the destruction of Germany's infrastructure. Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Bormann, and many other top Nazis and thousands of ordinary Germans committed suicide. Nazis embraced their coming end as a reenactment of Wagnerian and other nihilistic, mythological themes.
We cannot turn back the clock and rescue the Nazis' millions of victims. We owe it to those innocent victims to diagnose the pathology that murdered them. We say, "Never again." The question becomes, "Never again what?" What exactly is the perfect storm that gave birth to Nazism? How to recognize it on the horizon? How to defuse it?
Many attribute Nazism's death toll to Christianity. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a highly influential institution. It reports that anti-Semitism has plagued the world for two thousand years. This inaccurate two-thousand-year limit identifies anti-Semitism, and, by extension, Nazism, with Christianity. 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." Many more such statements could be cited.
Books linking Christianity and Nazism have produced great success for authors like Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, James Carroll, and John Cornwell. A database search shows that, just in the two-year period after its publication, Hitler's Pope was the subject of over six hundred articles in mainstream and scholarly presses. These articles weren't just reviews, but calls for thorough self-examination among Christians. A similar database search turns up merely thirty articles about Hitler's Monsters in the year and a half since its publication. Hitler's Pope became a New York Times bestseller. Today's Amazon rating for Hitler's Monsters is 78,231—nowhere near bestseller status. After the publication of Cornwell's book in 1999, James Carroll's Constantine's Sword in 2001, and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair in 2002, Christians worldwide engaged in protracted and profound efforts at self-examination, apologies, and amends.
I am unaware of any such exercise among New Age followers. New Agers shamelessly promote some of the very same falsehoods disseminated by Nazis. There has been no ethical or intellectual housecleaning around the fake witch craze narrative, the rejection of objective reality and that rejection's impact on ethics, or the New Age premise that conventional morality is oppressive and only for little people. Further, supremacy is alive and well among Neo-Pagans. "Racists Are Threatening to Take Over Paganism," Vice reported on April 2, 2018. "Faith, Family, and Folk," the motto of modern Odinists, would meet with Himmler's approval.
Not only hardcore Neo-Pagans espouse ideas that would be comfortable in the Nazi intellectual toolkit. One of the fastest growing groups in the West identifies as "spiritual but not religious." Just as Nazism did, New Age theology cherry picks from a religious cafeteria menu. Again, so what? Why does this matter? It matters because this approach is often accompanied by the elimination of any ethical or intellectual standards. Truth, and right and wrong, are what the individual says they are. Personal responsibility is erased. The spiritual-but-not-religious person feels empowered not only to select religious trinkets from the display case, but also to choose which history "feels" best. History is rewritten. If the spiritual-but-not-religious consumer wants to use the word "karma" and practice yoga and never acknowledge the horrors of the caste system, that's fine. New Agers might practice dervish spinning without acknowledging the cost of jihad and gender apartheid. They can attend witch doctor weekend workshops while ignoring how the very same magical beliefs they've chosen selectively to adopt and apply endanger albinos in East Africa, living human beings who are threatened with dismemberment so that their body parts can be harvested for magic rituals. At the same time, the spiritual-but-not-religious person is certain that Christianity was responsible for Nazism, and the Crusades were Catholic war crimes committed against unoffending Muslims. New Agers pick and choose self-serving moralities and rewrite history no less than did Heinrich Himmler.
Modern, conscious Christians are denied this kind of tunnel vision. Christians must incorporate crimes committed in the name of the church into their ethical worldview. New Ages get to float above the blood spilled in the name of their beliefs. That denial is not a good thing. We say "never again." To honor this motto, we must confront what really happened the first time. That confrontation has to include the crimes of the New Age.
Yes, Christians have stereotyped Jews negatively. Yes, Christians have committed crimes against Jews. Yes, it is a good thing that Christians have engaged in self-examination and making of amends for these crimes. But seeking the cause of Nazism in Christianity is a dead end; I argue as much in Against Identifying Nazism with Christianity. Rather, the thought processes that lead to Nazism are getting off scot-free. If you want to find the criminals who leave the largest mass graves, look to those who say, "Let's wipe the slate clean. Let's be pure. Let's invent a whole new hodgepodge system cherry picked from random exotica. Let's decide that neither the old rules nor objective reality apply to us. We are not responsible for the sins committed by those who believe what we believe. We can rewrite history however we want." These are the attitudes that give birth to the biggest mass graves. They are alive and well in the New Age movement.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Thanks to Lukasz for sending this in. Lukasz writes,
"It's a replica of a banner from the January Uprising. It is exhibited in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN in Warsaw. The original banner was made by Polish-Jewish women of Kalisz and given to general Edmund Taczanowski. The embroidered sentence reads: 'Walecznym Braciom poświęcają Polki Izaelitki Kalisz 1863.' (To Brave Brethren given by Polish Israelites Kalisz 1863). During the battle of Radoszewice the banner was almost captured by the Russians. It was saved by the female insurgent Walentyna Niemojowska. The banner is kept in the Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw."
For more posts on this theme, see this series of blog posts.
|Bieganski is available at Amazon|
You can read the interview, below, in English.
The Brute Polak is Alive and Well in Critical Darling Steve McQueen's New Film "Widows." Dziennik Zwiazkowy
Dziennik Zwiazkowy features a new article by me about the brute Polak stereotype in a few film. You can read the article in Polish and English here and in English below.
In 1971, Alan Dundes, the world's premier scholar on ethnic stereotyping, explained why, in that era, America was overrun with dumb Polak jokes. The heyday of the Polak joke followed shortly after the Civil Rights Movement. It had become déclassé for elites publicly to mock their previous go-to victims, African Americans. Elites required a new target, a new Untermensch against whom they could play Ubermensch. That Untermensch would be poor whites, typified by the Dumb Polak. Dundes wrote, "Lower-class whites are not militant. With the Polak joke cycle, it is the lower class, not Negroes, which provides the outlet for aggression and means of feeling superior."
The Polak joke is emblematic of a larger historical trend. American elites juggle one relatively disadvantaged group, poor whites, typified by Dumb Polaks and rednecks, against another relatively disadvantaged group, African Americans. Speech about African Americans needs to be chosen carefully. Political Correctness stipulates what Americans can and cannot say about African Americans and remain socially acceptable. Speech about poor whites knows few boundaries. All of the following phenomena belong on the same cultural-historical shelf as 1985's Official Polish Joke Book and Bill Maher's jokes about rednecks: the choices about college admissions that have resulted in fewer poor, white Christians on elite college campuses, affirmative action hiring practices, "Reagan Democrats" in 1980, and the 2016 election, when poor whites in states like West Virginia supported Donald Trump.
The Polak joke's heyday has passed. In fact jokes as a form may be dying out. Even so, the stereotype of the dumb Polak lives on, as do elites' differing cultural, political, and economic norms regarding poor whites and African Americans. The elite's juggling of relatively disadvantaged groups, some favored, some targeted, plays out in one of America's most powerful art forms, movies.
As I show in my book Bieganski, the Brute Polak Stereotype, filmmakers choose to use stereotypically brutish, dumb Polaks in their films because they know that audiences will respond to this stereotype. In several films over the past sixty years, filmmakers have set Polak or redneck characters up as fools, villains, and slobs, in direct contrast to noble African Americans. For this juxtaposition, filmmakers earn points. "See? I am brave enough to create unlikable white characters." As long as those white characters can be defined as part of a group that does not include the filmmaker. Polak and redneck identities are one ploy filmmakers can use to distance themselves from unlikeable whites.
Widows opened on November 16, 2018 to rapturous reviews. Rottentomatoes, a review aggregation site, gives Widows a 91%, "certified fresh" score. Steve McQueen, who directed, co-wrote, and co-produced Widows, is a critical darling. McQueen is a 49-year-old black Londoner. His previous films, also highly acclaimed, include Twelve Years a Slave, which won the 2014 Best Picture Academy Award. McQueen has also won BAFTA, Black Reel, British Independent Film, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, NAACP, Film Critic, Film Festival, and European Film awards. McQueen is firmly established as a member of the elite. He is one of the rarified few who informs audiences whom they must respect, and whom they are permitted, even encouraged, to hold in contempt.
Spoiler warning: the following summary will reveal much of the plot of the film Widows. Widows tells the story of four women who rob a corrupt Chicago politician (Colin Farrell) of five million dollars. They also shoot to death his racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant father (Robert Duvall). Two of the women are black, Veronica (Viola Davis) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo); one is Hispanic (Linda, played by Michelle Rodriguez); and one, Alice, is Polish (Elizabeth Debicki). Veronica is the team's leader.
Viola Davis, who plays Veronica, is also a critical darling. Davis is not a glamor girl; rather she is a serious, 53-year-old actress and winner of multiple awards. Veronica, her character, is intelligent, brave, dignified, determined, and always exquisitely dressed. The film is ponderously slow-moving and aesthetically self-conscious. It is as much a social protest art film as a heist film. In one scene, for example, the camera rests, for a long time, inches away from Veronica's eyeball. In another scene, Veronica gazes soulfully out a window while jazz chanteuse Nina Simone belts out a moody take on "Wild Is the Wind."
Widows has been celebrated as a criminal version of "Me, Too" or girl power. Previously, males got to rob millions of dollars. Now it's women's turn. The team members are depicted as strong, loyal, resourceful, and deserving. Except, of course, the Polak.
In her first scene, Alice is shown with a black eye. Her lover, Florek (Jon Bernthal), is a big, scary, hairy guy. Bernthal claims to have broken his nose fourteen times. Bernthal's nose is mashed all over his face, and his pugilist appearance adds to Florek's creepy, primitive menace. Florek complains to Alice that he doesn't like looking at her black eye. He advises her to cover it with makeup. The scene makes clear that it was Florek who beat Alice and bruised her face. Of the three women, only Alice is with a man who beats her. Alice is passive as Florek bullies her. She lacks the gumption to rescue herself from domestic violence.
Florek, a professional thief, is killed in a job. Alice must find a way to support herself. Alice is casually beaten by her mother Agnieszka (Jacki Weaver), who also verbally abuses her and accuses her of being a whore. Agnieszka wears too much makeup and a dress showing too much décolletage for a woman of her advanced years. Agnieszka then encourages Alice to sell herself to make money. In fact, it is clear that Alice lacks intelligence, ambition, or enough character to earn money for herself. Alice allows Agnieszka to beat her, just as she allowed Florek to beat her.
Alice dons very revealing clothing and prostitutes herself to a wealthy businessman. Before she has sex with him, Alice orders and drinks vodka, a drink that emphasizes her Polish identity. Alice is shown nude. Alice is also shown having sex with her client. The sex act ends in humiliation when Veronica walks in on Alice and her client. Alice identifies African American Veronica as her mother. Her client rolls his eyes. Alice can't even come up with a reasonable alibi. Alice, alone of the women in this woman-centric film, is shown in sexually revealing clothing, is shown nude, and is sexually humiliated.
In her interactions with abusive and bestial Florek, her verbally and physically abusive mother, and the clearly superior Veronica, Alice assumes a wide-eyed, passive, and clueless expression. She comes across more as a form of highly sexualized rabbit than a full human woman.
The other three team members, the two African American and one Hispanic, are repeatedly shown being resourceful and determined. Belle can run very fast. Linda fakes being a white-collar professional at an architecture firm. Veronica masterminds the entire heist. Only dumb Polak Alice can't seem to get anything right. She is repeatedly called stupid by her fellow team members, and insulted as a whore. "Think!" Veronica screams at her. "Keep your legs shut!" "You stupid girl!" As when she was beaten by Florek and her mother, Alice merely gazes with the absent eyes of a rodent. A very sexy rodent.
Veronica assigns Alice the task of scoring a getaway vehicle. Alice is clueless as to how to purchase a car. She must rely on the aid of a helpful man. Later, Veronica must rescue Alice, because dumb Alice doesn't know how to drive.
Eventually, Alice comes into her own. Veronica has also assigned her the task of buying weapons. Alice arrives at a gun show and fools a naïve woman into buying weapons for her. Alice tells the woman that she needs weapons to defend herself against her man, who beats her in every room of the house. Revealingly, while working this minor con, Alice speaks Polish. If you want to be a really good con artist, always use Polish language. And always rely on a domestic violence narrative, because Polaks are always beating each other up. But Alice never really graduates beyond the confines of the dumb Polak stereotype. When the women are attempting to gain access to the safe, the numbers meant to open the safe do not work. One of the masked women – I think it was Alice – was holding the numbers upside down. She is corrected by another team member. The audience laughs at this comic relief offered by a dumb Polak joke.
At the film's end, Belle generously and anonymously rewards a friend with a big sack of money. Linda returns to her dream, a dream that demonstrates her solid business sense and her aesthetic gifts. She re-opens her dress store. She celebrates with her beloved children. Linda is a loving mother. Veronica does not use her haul to buy self-indulgent items. Rather, she underwrites a library. Alice, alone, appears to have no loved ones, no ambition, and no shape to her life whatsoever, except as a dumb Polak slut.
As the rock group The Who once sang, "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss." Political Correctness did not usher in a level playing field. Political Correctness did not promise an end to stereotyping or the dawn of dignity and compassion for all. Political Correctness did not equal elites themselves offering to humble themselves or to sacrifice their protected status. Rather, political correctness just shuffled the team positions. Elites did not surrender their place at the top. And they still get to look down on some people. They still get to stereotype some people. Those people are just different. Now elites can establish their superiority by victimizing poor whites, rednecks and Polaks.
Polish Americans did not choose this role. They did not choose to be pawns of the elite, played off against African Americans in elite Americans' hunger games for respect and resources. But we are in this role. How best to respond? As I argue in my book and on my blog, Polish Americans must take their stereotyping seriously, and they must respond to it with informed action.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
My new book, "God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery" is available now through Amazon and directly from the publisher.
As a special offer to blog readers, for a limited time only, if you purchase a copy of GTB, I will send to a US address a copy of the Polish language version of Bieganski.
"God through Binoculars" has a great deal of Polish, Slovak, and other EE content.
"God Through Binoculars blew me away. Goska has written a truly unique and remarkable work – gripping, tragic, eclectic, powerful, and empowering."
Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin, Director, The Biblical Museum of Natural History, author, "The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom"
"A witty, provocative, and thoroughly engaging memoir about the difficulties of faith, the complexities of love, and the consolations often found in nature. Whether she's writing about hyenas or jihad, hitchhiking or the perils of political correctness, Goska is always interesting. I loved this book!"
Daiva Markelis, author of "White Field, Black Sheep"
"As unsparing as it is tender, this book is a high-octane lyric meditation by a larger-than-life soul. Amid a multitude of coincidences, controversies, and calamities, the reader is invited to laugh, grieve, ponder, take exception, and especially, take heart."
Claire Bateman, author "Locals: A Collection of Prose Poems" NEA grant recipient
"The great books about spiritual journeys never give you easy answers. They don't say 'Do these 10 things and you will find peace or faith or salvation.' Goska knows this truth. She has lived this truth. As you read her beautifully written, witty, and inspiring book, you will find yourself not only following her journey, you will find yourself living your own journey."
John Guzlowski, author of "Echoes of Tattered Tongues" Montaigne Medal recipient
"An effortlessly wise voyage, not only into the human soul but also into some fundamentals of the Western tradition. Goska is a formidable writer, who combines sensitivity and kindness with extraordinary toughness, and her vigorous prose reflects this unusual combination. Her prose grabs you and does not let you go."
Dario Fernández-Morera, author, "The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise"
Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Comparative Literature, Northwestern University
"This is a moving, inspiring, heartfelt expression of love, pain, and healing, skillfully written with equal amounts of grace and compassion."
Larry Dossey, MD, author "One Mind"
"Impossible to put down. Goska is a true original, a gifted writer and an even more gifted spiritual explorer. Her previous book 'Save, Send, Delete,' like this one, displays a remarkable range of philosophical and religious knowledge, accompanied by profound insights that will stay with a reader long after they are encountered. Goska has packed more experience into each one of her years on this earth than most of us will in a lifetime. I urge you to give a look at this irresistible journey of faith in search of answers."
David Horowitz, "Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey"
"Goska is one of the very few writers whose words I'm impelled to read, words that pull me forward the way being roped to a runaway horse might."
Charles Ades Fishman, winner, 2012 New Millenium Award for Poetry
"Goska reminds every birder and nature lover that they are connected spiritually to the birds they see and the experiences they have outdoors. Our souls and hearts are refreshed and renewed by allowing ourselves to understand in some small way that we are connected to something in nature that is ancient and forever."
Don Torino, Naturalist for Wild Birds Unlimited and President, Bergen County Audubon Society
"I read 'God through Binoculars' the way I read everything that I am enjoying or that interests me, at increasingly breakneck speed. I finished it this morning and plan to begin again, reading more slowly and thoroughly for the subtler bits. The two writers this book reminded me of most were Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. They also have an edginess and a sense of putting themselves out there without giving a damn what others think."
Julie Davis, author of "The Happy Catholic"
"Goska is a walker, an observer, a thinker. This pilgrimage-in-a-book reminds me of Paolo Coelho in its thrust and scope. But Coelho merely walked the camino – Goska walks the byways of the world, from rural Virginia to the wildernesses of Asia. Always questioning, always seeking, Goska shows us the profound in every living being, from hyenas to humans. If you are willing to accompany her on this journey, you will be changed yourself."
Brian Ó Broin, author of Thógamar le Gaeilge Iad, Professor of Linguistics and Medieval Literature, WPUNJ
"'God through Binoculars' is … complicated, just like the natural world Goska so compellingly describes; just like the spiritual insights she gleans from her own well-traveled life, marked by random encounters that may not be all that random. She is a committed monotheist who believes in evolution, but expresses annoyance with Darwinist absolutes. She is awed by Mother Nature, but recognizes the random cruelties that play out within the wilderness. Through her binoculars, she observes a world constantly in flux – shaped and reshaped by variables that somehow work together in unbelievable complexity. Because of that complexity, she is skeptical about any 'straight-line' redemption of life's disappointments by an all-loving God. Yet she believes that God is indeed all-loving, that her own burdens might not be lifted, but can be transmuted into blessings. If she can believe that, maybe even the greatest skeptics among us can, too."
Melanie Forde, author of "Hillwilla" and "On the Hillwilla Road"
"An inspiring and inspired read by one who has long since heard the music."
Kevin Di Camillo, author of "Now Chiefly Poetical," columnist at National Catholic Register
"Goska is brilliant with words, painting highly evocative pictures. She's unafraid to explore emotional, spiritual, and philosophical frontiers. She's been all over the world, learning about cultures from the inside. This book brings these gifts and experiences to bear on a personal journey to a place few readers know."
Karen A. Wyle, author, "Twin Bred"
"I always get the sense through Goska's writings that God is all about us, that is, with us. You will find in her writing of the simple things in life deeper meanings, feelings and emotional connections that will widen your perspectives on events, love, and loss. We are pulled out of ourselves long enough to see a fuller life of observational gravity that can be applied to our own experiences. Read this book. Learn another way to see beyond just looking."
Edward "Rusty" Walker, author of "Transparent Watercolor: How to Use the Direct Method to Achieve Radiantly Clear Color and Translucency in Your Paintings"
"Amazing. Ordinary situations brought to life. Observant, with a real wit. A pleasure to read!"
Brian Koral, blog reader
"A masterpiece. I couldn't put it down. Goska has an incisive mind, an insatiable curiosity, and a captivating writing style. As a veterinarian, I particularly appreciated her colorful and informative writing about the animals she has encountered in her adventurous life."
Dr. Morton A. Goldberg, Veterinarian and Project Gutenberg volunteer
"C.S. Lewis wrote in his great novel 'Perelandra' that though 'there seemed to be, and indeed were, a thousand roads by which a man could walk through the world, there was not a single one which did not lead sooner or later either to the Beatific or the Miserific Vision.' Goska is a pilgrim walking the roads of this world and trying her best to follow the Spirit as he leads her at each fork in the road toward that 'one Face above all worlds which merely to see is irrevocable joy.'"
Mark P. Shea, Author, "By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition"
"Goska is a true wordsmith, a writer you enjoy reading for the prose as well as the imagination and education. Moving from thought to thought and scene to scene in no obvious order, you later realize the grand plan underneath it all, the coherent worldview that shapes how she appraises her fascinating experiences. And unlike secular writers of similar works, she is able not only to be romantic about life's rich variety, but to ground it in the good God of revelation. That combination of orthodox faith, humorous observations of eccentric people and moments, and practical philosophy is rare in contemporary writing."
The Rev. Evan McClanahan
Sin Boldly Podcast
"You catch a monkey, they say, with trinkets in a wide-bottomed, narrow-necked vase. The monkey inserts his paw, and opens it up to capture his treasure. When he tries to withdraw his fist, he can either hold on to the trinkets or let them go and free himself.
Jesus invited, 'Leave everything you have, and follow me!' That might seem fairly easy for a pilgrim who can't afford her own car. But even the poor must surrender.
Goska's monastery journey is a meditation on the deliberate opening of hands. With the slow freeing of each finger, another trinket is jettisoned and a new perspective is revealed. Nature provides her window to the divine: indigenous fruit, a hawk's soar, and being arrested by an unlikely savior. This hero's journey ends where she began, but as a new person, with a new vision.
Goska is a bold spirit who has fine-tuned her soul to encounter grace in unlikely places. In the spirit of Flannery O'Connor, as well as the Beats, she is wonderfully refreshing. Her sensitivity to God's possibilities is awe-inspiring. Step beyond predictability and embrace one heck of a ride!"
Deacon Kevin McCormack, host, WABC radio, "Religion on the Line," Xavier High School principal, adjunct professor of theology at Molly College
"'God Through Binoculars' is a mesmerizing book. The primary narrative concerns the author's visit to a monastery, but this is interspersed with reflections on the habits of hyenas, the spiritual defects of Meso-American art (Goska seems to like the hyenas better), the Holocaust, and a host of other subjects. The satirical account of her visit to the monastery makes the book worth reading all by itself. Fierce, hard-won, deep-rooted piety breathes through the snark. In an age of cutesy, feel-good memoirs with easy answers, this is the real thing – a book that brings you in touch with the restless, passionate intelligence of its author and forces you to think in a fresh way about every one of the many subjects it addresses."
Edwin Woodruff Tait, writer, farmer, and consulting editor for Christian History magazine.
"Goska dares to ask the universally elusive questions: will any deity or doctrine fully suffice in this life? Is the duel beauty and brutality of nature and human interaction alone enough to fill our spiritual reservoirs? In examining the mysterious trifecta of God, the natural world and human industry, Goska illustrates how a truly benevolent God would want us to experience the brutality of life along with the transcendence of beauty. Time and again her words illuminate the agony AND the ecstasy of this life that ultimately inspire us towards love, awe and wonder. Goska's intellectual inquisition proves that the very acts of motion and inquiry are a kind of devotion all their own. "
Tina Schumann, "Two-Countries. U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents"
"Goska finds goodness and moments of beauty and synchronicity amidst a world of hurt and oppression. Kindness and serendipity give to her, and give to the reader as well, hope for the future and a sense of religious wonder and faith. Her passion for birds and the avian encounters – some downright magical – which occur at just the right moments in her experience offer tantalizing evidence of greater forces at work than can be explained by pure science or reason. Goska's book is provocative, in-your-face, and uncompromising – all the trademarks of the author herself. It is bracing to read strongly-held opinions backed up by facts and evidence instead of feel-good but unsubstantiated politically correct writing. "
Marc J. Chelemer, New Jersey birder
"All that Goska has done here is to give us a simple, straightforward account of a brief episode in her life. And yet she has captured something about the mystery of life and human interaction that is at once deep, moving, and universal."
Bruce Bawer, author, "Stealing Jesus"
"Goska takes the reader on a remarkable journey, first encountering the personal and political corruption of academia in the soul-crushing age of political correctness, and then finding escape and finally restoration of spirit. This is no harangue or political manifesto, but rather a compelling tale of exploration and growth from a natural storyteller that just happens to illuminate the intellectual and moral issues of our age."
Thomas Lifson, Founder and Editor, American Thinker, former Harvard professor of East Asian Studies