December 19, 2010
my endless search for the meaningful and sane
A comment to an earlier post touches on an intractable problem which refuses to go away, and makes me feel as if I am in a permanent Catch 22.
I don't know whether I treated Sullivan as meaningful or sane; what I did was to attempt to address his criticism of Glenn Reynolds.
But maybe that commenter has a point. Perhaps I came across as being too fair to Andrew Sullivan.
Should I have simply ignored Sullivan's snark? Why? I was trying to make a point about the difficulties inherent in criticizing Communism, and I thought that Sullivan's remark showed how touchy the subject can be.
What would people have me do? Indignantly level personal attacks on Sullivan? He is a blogger, and even though he is a lot more prominent and influential than I am, it seems like a cheap shot for me to hurl insults his way. (As regular readers know, hurling insults is not my style.) But it seems that now that I am being criticized for mentioning him at all, by someone who thinks I am being a weenie for treating him as if he is sane.
What is the lesson here? To either launch a vituperative attack or just remain silent? That would leave me with nothing to say at all.
If I see something that strikes me as worthy of criticism, I will try to address it logically.
Let's take American Family Association leader Bryan Fischer as an example. According to him, Question Number One for all Republican leaders is whether they are going to reinstitute the ban on homosexuals in the military. It's the one hope America has left:
I hate to be a party pooper, but the above is not accurate. While there was a homosexual clique in the early days of the brownshirts, Hitler (using Himmler as his henchman) had them uprooted and killed in the notorious Night of the Long Knives. That was in 1934 -- years before the savagery and brutality that the Nazis inflicted on the world, and on the Jews. (After the crackdown, Hitler specificially ordered an end to "homosexuality, debauchery, drunkenness, and high living" in the Brownshirts.) It is beyond dispute that Heinrich Himmler followed up with a regular, systematic uprooting of any Nazi homosexuals he could find along with homosexuals in the general population.He didn't pussyfoot around, either.
Although there is always speculation, most serious historians do not believe Hitler was gay. (And of course Nazi ideology was and remains virulently anti-gay. The pink triangle was a concentration camp badge.)
But what matters in the context of Fischer is not historical truth, but his truth. He believes the Nazis were gay as a sort of article of faith. Which means he probably thinks that reinstating the ban on homosexual military service will keep the gay Nazis from ruining the military. After all, he also blames homosexuality for the Holocaust.
If homosexuality in fact gave us the Holocaust, what I can't figure out is why Hitler would have purged his ranks of those who "basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after." Especially if he was gay himself. Bryan Fischer claims to know, and he bases his claims on a single book by a German historian who speculated that Hitler was a homosexual who killed everyone who knew his secret (thus there is no solid proof). Yet even according to that author, "What I stress in my book is that Holocaust has nothing to do with Hitler's homosexuality at all."
Fischer's contentions are critiqued in detail here. I especially enjoyed a remark Hitler made about the role of homosexuals in history to Rudolf Diels (first chief of the Gestapo):
I would say that I think that the above remark sounds awfully like the arguments spouted by Bryan Fischer and his organization except I always try to avoid violating Godwin's Law on Sundays.
And because I made the mistake of treating Andrew Sullivan as meaningful or sane, I must do the same for Bryan Fischer.
So I'll just say that it is my considered opinion that Hitler was not gay, that homosexuality was not responsible for the Holocaust, and that reinstituting the ban on gays in the military is not Question Number One.
I'll leave the fun to Comedy Central, with "Gay Reichs."
UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.
Comments welcome, agree or disagree.
MORE: What's especially interesting about the claim of Hitler being gay is that even if that author's speculations are treated as absolutely true, at most it would mean that Hitler (suspected by author Lothar Machtan of having dabbled in homosexuality as a young bohemian) might have been a bitter and repressed homosexual.
If it were ever proven true that Hitler had gay sex during his bohemian years and later covered it up, activists like Andrew Sullivan could be expected to blame "the closet" for Hitler's evil. After all, Sullivan believes passionately that the closet is evil.
But isn't blaming Hitler's closet about as logical as Bryan Fischer's claim that homosexuality is to blame?
Isn't it more significant that Hitler was a psychopath? Or is that just unexciting?
posted by Eric on 12.19.10 at 12:17 PM
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