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>I just have one question: why do you keep treating Sullivan as if he's meaningful or even sane? One shouldn't feed trolls nor like to the mad.</a>

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:

The one hope America has left is to elect Republican leaders at all levels, including the presidency, who will be determined to reinstate the ban on homosexuals in the military in 2013. That is now question number one for every Republican wannabe president, every Republican wannabe senator, every Republican wannabe congressman in the next election cycle: will you support a plan to reinstate the ban on homosexual military service? If not, every conservative must say you can forget about my support, my dollars, and my vote.

Considering how the man feels about homosexuals, the above is not surprising. Fischer is one of those "Hitler was gay" believers, and he has gone to great lengths to tie homosexuality to Nazism. 

Hitler himself was an active homosexual. And some people wonder, didn't the Germans, didn't the Nazis, persecute homosexuals? And it is true they did; they persecuted effeminate homosexuals. But Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual solders basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals.

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.

In the SS, today, we still have about one case of homosexuality a month. In a whole year, about eight to ten cases occur in the entire SS. I have now decided upon the following: In each case, these people will naturally be publicly degraded, expelled, and handed over to the courts. Following completion of the punishment imposed by the courts, they will be sent, by my order, to a concentration camp, and they will be shot in the concentration camp, while attempting to escape.

Heinrich Himmler, 18 February 1937 (1)

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.

Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.

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):

"He [Hitler] lectured me on the role of homosexuality in history and politics. It had destroyed ancient Greece he said. Once rife, it extended its contagious effects like an ineluctable law of nature to the best and most manly of characters, elimination from the reproductive process those very men on whose offspring a nation depended. The immediate result of the vice, however, was that unnatural passion swiftly became dominant in public affairs if it were allowed to spread unchecked".

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."



The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Gay Reichs
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook


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


AssOfSpazzHQ banned me (and from Confederate Yankee and My Pet Jawa) because I complained about him (her)? constantly setting up stealth traffic drivers for his paramours, Sullivan and Johnson.

I can stop reading blogs that waste my time with those two, but please (continue to) be3 honest about it so I can take you off the must read list. (AOSHQ will probably tell you that I was "warned" and that I dumptede him and kept coming back because of people think what he (AOSHQ) says is important.

I have finally figured out where he cribs most of his stuff from so that is not a big loss.

Losing original thought from CY and MPJ hurts, and it would hurt if Sullivan (or Johnson, or both) take over here.

Larry Sheldon   ·  December 19, 2010 4:40 PM

I guess I did not answer the question asked: What would people have me do?".

I would have you do nothing. Don't read him. If you must read him, don't tell us about it. If you must tell us about it, be up front about it--don't wrap pointers in stealth so we too help you drive his traffic up.

He has nothing useful to say, and if it appears that he does, it is not believable.

The ONLY way to deal with trolls is to bury them in silence. Don't give his drool undeserved credit by discussing it, and for heaven's sake, don't let him brag about the traffic he "draws".

Larry Sheldon   ·  December 19, 2010 4:48 PM

You know--my answer to the "homosexual problem" is really close to what I wrote above (and the fact that I was talking about one or more queers there is irrelevant now in this piece).

I don't like every meal, every church service, every meeting on any topic what so ever, every quiet walk through the part or what ever, every aspect of MY life to be taken over by people dry humping (or worse), talking about dry humping (or worse), swapping spit, taking a shit, ..... the list is pretty long.

There is just a number of things that for one reason or another ought not to inflicted on non-willing participants. Included in that long long list are a lot of things I very much enjoy doing.

Just not in public. And surely there are other things to talk about.

Larry Sheldon   ·  December 19, 2010 5:00 PM

Sorry, but as this is my blog, I reserve the right to say whatever it occurs to me to say, about whoever I want.

BTW, I don't ban commenters, and I am fascinated by your statement that "it would hurt if Sullivan (or Johnson, or both) take over here."

It would hurt me too, but what's up that I don't know? Are they planning to take over here?

I would hate to think there's a coup pending and no one told me.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 19, 2010 6:52 PM

I haven't been in the mood to blog lately, but Larry's almost inspired me enough to post a few links to Sullivan and Johnson.

Donna B.   ·  December 20, 2010 11:05 AM

The fundamental problem inherent in criticizing communism is that one must first pretend it has any validity whatsoever.

The petty resentments that underly all of its sophistries are themselves invalid.

Communism (and its analogues): A systematic delusional world-view comprised of unworkable ideas, founded on flawed assumptions, derived from misplaced blame, motivated by hate, masquerading as humanitarianism.

Lee Reynolds   ·  December 20, 2010 1:30 PM

I have no strong reason to believe that Hitler had sex with men, but this quote:

"homosexuality... had destroyed ancient Greece he said. Once rife, it extended its contagious effects like an ineluctable law of nature to the best and most manly of characters, elimination from the reproductive process those very men on whose offspring a nation depended. The immediate result of the vice, however, was that unnatural passion swiftly became dominant in public affairs if it were allowed to spread unchecked"

would certainly -- if about anyone alive today -- be seen as evidence of latent homosexuality.

DWPittelli   ·  December 20, 2010 2:17 PM

Over the years I have had a number of gay Jewish friends.

Proof positive Hitler was a gay and Jewish. Or something.

M. Simon   ·  December 20, 2010 3:36 PM


Would that be one hump or two? Camels that is.

M. Simon   ·  December 20, 2010 4:04 PM

I don't really have a dog in this particular fight but I would point out that it is a rookie mistake in studying the history of the Nazis to say that, "The Nazis believed in X..."

Beyond the idea of Germanic racial superiority and the threat of a global Jewish conspiracy, the Nazis did not have a centralized ideology such as that held by Stalin's Soviet Union. Instead, the Nazis were a loose hodgepodge collection weird ideas. Each major Nazi leader had his own ideological fiefdom within the 3rd Reich with his own ideas and practices. Most of which did not have the approval of Hitler.

For example, Hitler thought Himmler's fascination with archeology and racial history was silly. He warned that Himmler's overuse of ritual threatened to descend into "medieval mysticism". He let Himmler have his little fiefdom because it served Hitler's own purposes.

Ernst Rohm's homosexual clique at the top of the SA fit this pattern. It was Rohm's own little fiefdom that Hitler tolerated while he was useful and then used it against him when the SA proved a threat to Hitler himself. If Rohm hadn't poised a threat and had been more of a lapdog like Himmler, Rohm's homosexual clique most likely would have survived to the downfall of the Reich itself.

As a consequence of these fiefdoms, you can find some Nazis that believed in almost any non-traditional idea. (It almost as if the population of Berkeley, CA all suddenly started wearing funny costumes and invaded Nevada.) By projecting the ideas of one fiefdom onto the entire Nazi regime, a sloppy person can claim that the "Nazis" believed in almost new idea of the 20th century.

The cynical approach to homosexuality also happened in the Soviet Union. Externally, the Soviets actively recruited homosexuals and other non-traditional types because of their alienation from traditional society. Homosexuals and promiscuous heterosexuals were wildly overrepresented in the Communist in the free-world. Internally, however, the Soviets regarded homosexuality as a capitalist perversion and sentenced homosexuals to life in the Gulags when they weren't killed outright.

Because of this cynical use of homosexuality by totalitarian regimes, you can't say anything about the relationship of homosexuality to modern tyranny one way of the other. Homosexuals are just another group to be exploited when useful and disposed of when not.

Shannon Love   ·  December 20, 2010 5:17 PM

Shannon, that is one of the wisest observations I have seen on the subject.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 20, 2010 6:10 PM

Eric, I've read a paper written by the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) and
published internally in the U.S. government in 1943 (or maybe it was 1944).
They interviewed over 2,000 people who personally knew Adolf Hitler. Most
of these people believed Hitler was homosexual. Some more or less implied
that they knew from personal experience. According to this paper, Hitler
was a gay prostitute for seven years at a specific address (that I can not
recall) in Vienna, Austria, at or around the time that he was an art student.

As I understand it your argument for Hitler not being homosexual is
that he persecuted homosexuals once he became the supreme leader of Germany.
For a normal human being this would seem strong evidence. But I
would argue that Hitler was highly disturbed and not at all normal.

For the first example, Hitler was apparently disliked by his parents and
siblings with the exception of one sister. This sister, who did feel an
affinity for Hitler, sent her teenage daughter to his care in the 1920s.
There's some reason to believe that Hitler sexually abused and even tortured
his niece; regardless, she committed suicide in his apartment.

For the second example, Hitler, like most German men of his age, fought
in World War I. His unit fought on the front lines and as a war measures
time it was for a long time. For most men this would be the most intense
and disturbing and exciting experience of their life and they would form
stronger bonds with a least some of the other men in the unit than they
would ever experience again for the rest of their lives.

After the war was over Hitler accused the other men of conspiring against
the government and the entire unit, with the exception of Hitler, was

As a third example, well, I give the "Night of Long Knives." The National
Socialist German Workers Party was, for much of it's existence, a fairly
small group of people. The core group pretty much lived together for ten
years. It was precisely this group that the "Night of Long Knives" targeted.
This isn't some little fringe faction of the Nazi party that Hitler tried
to wipe out; it was with the exception of Goebbels, all of Hitler's
long-term associates.

I think there's a pattern here. And that Hitler's persecution of homosexuals
fits right in.

As to what all this signifies, I don't know. I suspect that the above is
the truth and that the evidence to support it was once fairly abundant.
I also suspect that piece by piece what evidence remains is being
deliberately erased. I think it's a good example of how history becomes
bunk, because really matters is what the politically powerful want people
to believe.

I don't think there's any deep message here about the evils of homosexuality,
although doubtless many will take it to be such. For whatever reason, but
as an empirical observation, I suspect that in many cultures in many different
times and places, and for different ideologies, a disproportionate percentage
of the politically powerful have been gay.

Mark Amerman   ·  December 20, 2010 8:27 PM

The quoted here...

I just don't understand why you seem to feel the need to discuss the ranting of someone who morally and intellectually seems to be the match for Rev. Phelps. It seems like a waste of time, and its not like you could have a discussion with him - I've tried. Because I enjoy reading your posts, I'd just rather have your take on someone without a fixation on Ms. Palin's uterus. I normally just skip those if I see his name in the title and I'd never click the link.

Denton   ·  December 20, 2010 8:48 PM

Very good comment Shannon.

Veeshir   ·  December 20, 2010 9:12 PM

Maybe it's like a car wreck...You just can't help but look...

But, I'm sure glad you do the reading so I can just read what you write about the abyss,it gives me vertigo.

(Sorry for such a flip comment after Shannon's so astute one!)

flicka47   ·  December 20, 2010 10:00 PM

I found the Jon Stewart video to be mostly meh, as usual. Making the choir laugh.

What most amused me was the following (sincere) Scott Lively quote: "[Hitler's] inner circle was always filled with homosexuals."

I shall now get my mind out of the gutter.

Bob   ·  December 20, 2010 10:03 PM

Sullivan isn't that much of an enigma. I've followed him since he was an arch enemy of the Clintons, back when he was friends with Jonah Goldberg and his mother. The man is someone whose inner conflict was resolved as he embraced Catholicism at the expense of his professed conservatism and abandoned any pretense of championing freedom. The final "betrayal" was his endorsement of Obama.
He is now nothing more than a statist hack - a kind of court jester who is so self-delusional that he actually believes Obama is conservative, and Trig Palin is the product of what, an Immaculate Conception?

Frank   ·  December 20, 2010 11:18 PM

Mark, do you have a link to that particular OSS report? The OSS reports I've read discuss mostly Hitler's rather disgusting relationship with Geli Raubal.

I'm not a Hitler scholar but I suggest reading Ron Rosenbaum's analysis here:

Calling Hitler gay based on allegations that he may have prostituted himself with guys when he was a young Bohemian is like calling Saddam Hussein gay because was alleged to have been a male prostitute in his youth. Or Charles Manson (who is reported to have raped fellow inmates as a youth). All were psychopaths, and even if they did these things they might have meant very little to them at the time.

I don't think psychopaths who have homosexual sex simply when it strikes them to do that are necessarily gay -- not unless they express an actual preference.

Once again, it is possible that Hitler was a repressed homosexual, but it has certainly not been proven.

I think the assertions that he was gay are ridiculous.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 21, 2010 12:19 AM

Eric, I found and read that OSS paper on the internet about fifteen
years ago. I looked for it again some years later and found that the
CIA had moved it behind a paywall. That is you could no longer read
it for free but you could buy the document.

I'm pretty sure I have the name of the document on a computer about
150 miles from where I am right now. Maybe I'll drop you a note
on the subject about a week from now.

In a way, it's kind of amazing that you haven't heard of this document.
I don't mean you personally because I realize the paper is obscure
and as far as I can see never mentioned. But if one is interested in the
subject of where Hitler came from, then it seems remarkable that this paper
isn't near the top of the list of relevant evidence given the tens of
thousands of civil servant man-hours that were spent finding and interviewing
these people, and given that the document is full of direct quotes.

The anonymous document you reference is interesting and has something
of the same flavor of the much longer document I mention above.
In both cases I suspect the author or lead author is a psychiatrist. If
I recall correctly, Otto Strasser, mentioned in the document you reference,
is quoted extensively in the OSS paper I've been talking about. If I recall
correctly Otto Strasser was a long-time nazi, part of the inner-core group,
and may have been, by his account, intimately associated with Hitler for
many years. By intimate, I don't mean gay, though who knows what one
is supposed to read between the lines, but one of the people that used
to watch over Hitler at night because they were afraid he might commit
suicide or to prevent him from getting too depressed, or God knows what
exactly. I believe Otto Strasser was one of the people targeted in the
"Night of Long Knives," but was tipped off and somehow fled to Canada.

On the question of what is or is not homosexuality, I don't have a strong
opinion. Personally, I think that if a male finds himself having sex with
other males over and over again, then he's homosexual or at least bisexual.
But then again, I may not know what I'm talking about. I've no doubt
that my opinions about many things are erroneous, though which exactly
are the erroneous ones I'm not too clear about.

Mark Amerman   ·  December 21, 2010 9:23 AM

I echo the approval of Shannon's cautionary comment.

As to Hitler or any Nazi being homosexual, closeted, homophobic, whatever. Context is critical. People avenging humiliation might choose homosexual rape (or being victims) for rather non-sexual reasons related to shame. There was certainly plenty of humiliation to go around in post-WWI Germany, of a type and intensity not easily understood in American culture. Trying to draw conclusions about Nazi homosexuality from a base of 2010 American gay perspective is just too far a stretch. Similarly, drawing conclusions about homosexuality in general on the basis of German 1915-45 data is likely impossible. Any of the posited theories might, of course, be true on the basis of other evidence. But that particular data set is too muddied to be useful.

The meaning of lots of things changes under intense or bizarre circumstances, not just sexual behavior.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  December 21, 2010 10:15 AM

AVI, to choose an ace-ism:

I had sex with that guy, not in a gay way but Like a Viking!

Veeshir   ·  December 21, 2010 11:18 AM

I'm not an expert on the terminology, but has anyone considered the possibility that Hitler was an ex-gay? Or is it necessary for the ex-gay to publicly call himself an "ex-gay" in order to qualify?

Eric Scheie   ·  December 21, 2010 11:44 AM

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