Kevin Abrams: The other side of The Pink Swastika

This title is a play on a 1994 article by Kevin Abrams, published in Peter LaBarbera’s Lambda Report, titled, “The Other Side of the Pink Triangle.” Abrams is co-author of The Pink Swastika and organizer of an organization called the International Committee for Holocaust Truth. This organization produced three reports with the same message as The Pink Swastika. As noted in the first paper, the group believes,

Hitler’s plans for a “1000 Year Reich,” is a “Homofascist” Conspiracy which still thrives today disguised as “gay” rights. Today’s Holocaust memorial museums are being co-opted as part of a broader homosexualist strategy.

Current American Nazis would violently take issue with this view, but that is a topic for another post.

The ICHT seems to consist of Howard Hurwitz, Judith Reisman, Christopher Barder, Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams. Hurwitz is a former school principal and heads a small group called the Family Defense Council. As far as I can tell, the FDC does not have a website but has various writings and descriptions scattered on the web (e.g., here and here).

As noted yesterday, the attempt to link Nazis and gays (as a movement) seems to have been triggered by outrage over the “gay holocaust” metaphor and a desire to prevent that metaphor from generating public support for gays in in the 1990s. Abrams piece on the pink triangle was circulated among activists during this period and brought at least one scholarly refutation. Christine Mueller of Reed College wrote a piece which examined and refuted the essential claims of the Abrams’ article. Abrams then replied with a rebuttal.

Mueller points out the massive leaps of logic and fact required to make National Socialism an invention of a cohesive homosexual plot. Here is one example:

The abuse to which he subjects Heiden’s Der Fuehrer [a book about Hitler] is particularly flagrant. To suggest Hitler’s homosexuality, for example, Abrams changes Heiden’s text: “With Roehm and Heines, Stennes helped to impose the rule of the homosexuals over the SA” to: “with Roehm and Heines, Hitler helped to impose the rule of Roehm’s exclusively homosexual clique over the SA.” (58) Abrams has Roehm writing from Bolivia that he intended “to spread the culture,” whereas in the original, he spreads “culture,” i.e. Kultur. (59) In another example, Heiden describes a factional feud inside the party, during which Goebbels, taking sides against Hitler, called him a “vain operetta queen” (60) — a play on Hitler’s popular title, “The King of Munich.” In Abrams’ rearrangement of the text, Goebbels is referring to Roehm and appears to be complaining about his homosexuality (61). Since in German the word queen (Koenigin) has

no reference to homosexuality whatsoever, this error speaks volumes for the quality of Abrams’ scholarly credentials. These selected instances must suffice to show how assiduously Abrams has doctored his quotations; it would be tedious to list them all.

What makes The Pink Swastika and other materials like it difficult to critique for the casual reader is this kind of revisionism. Quotes are slightly altered; or even given properly but then the meaning is altered out of historical context. Readers interested in the details should read Abrams’ initial article, the Mueller critique and then Abrams’ rebuttal. The essence of Abrams arguments comes back to the quote above:

Hitler’s plans for a “1000 Year Reich,” is a “Homofascist” Conspiracy which still thrives today disguised as “gay” rights. Today’s Holocaust memorial museums are being co-opted as part of a broader homosexualist strategy.

Mueller’s response points out the errors of fact and context which are driven by confirmation bias and apparent outrage over a perception that another undeserving group was appropriating the holocaust metaphor.

Prior posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The other side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

Before The Pink Swastika

To set a stage for an examination of The Pink Swastika, I want to review a bit the context for Lively’s arguments regarding gays and Nazism. In 1998, Arlene Stein, sociologist at the University of Oregon published a paper in Sociological Perspectives which pointed out the use of the Holocaust metaphor by both the right and the left. She noted that some gay activist groups have appropriated the victim status associated with the Holocaust and that far right groups have attempted to brand gays with the bad brush of the Nazis. Who is right?

Over the next month, I will be posting information which I hope will shed light on the issues. With the expert help of history professor and Grove City College colleague, Jon David Wynekin, I hope to demonstrate that gays were indeed victims of the Nazi ideology, even though some of the early Nazis were themselves quite likely homosexuals. Hitler used them as long as they served his evil purposes. They were not victims to the degree the Jews and other groups were but as Gunter Grau says about homosexuals in the book, Hidden Holocaust?,

They were all victims, whether they were interned in a concentration camp, imprisoned by a court or spared actual persecution. For ultimately, the racist Nazi system curtailed the life-opportunities of each and every homosexual man and woman. (p. 7).

It is worth pointing out that the book by Grau cited above is also cited by Scott Lively in The Pink Swastika. Lively cites the Grau book six times by my count. However, there are 104 documents in the Hidden Holocaust? Lively had to skip over sections which demonstrated clear victimization of homosexuals to get to the parts he cited. In uncoming posts, I will quote more from Grau’s book.

According to Stein’s 1998 paper, references to the holocaust theme appeared at various times starting during the 1970s gay liberation movement. Eventually, anti-gay Christian right advocates flipped the metaphor accusing gays of seeking to corrupt society and impose sexual lawlessness. In the early 1990s, anti-gay rights ballot measures were placed before citizens in various states. At the time, Scott Lively was Communications Director for the Oregon Citizens Alliance. According to Stein, both sides traded charges of Nazism. When gays accused the OCA of Nazi intent, the OCA turned it around and made similar claims. Stein documents instances, writing

During these initiative campaigns, the Christian right at times deployed rhetoric and imagery that echoed European anti-Semitism. The Oregon Citizens Alliance film, The Gay Agenda, closely resembled the 1940 Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew. Echoing traditional anti-Semitic propaganda which deliberately inflated the power of Jewish bankers, international Jewish conspiracies, and so forth, conservatives suggested that lesbians and gay men have higher incomes than others. A cartoon published by the Oregon Citizens Alliance showed a gay man manipulating the strings of the government and the economy. It was, one gay writer pointed out, “a virtual copy of a Nazi cartoon,” one that replaced “the stooped, hooknosed puppeteer with a fresh-faced gym boy (Solomon 1997:7).” At the same time, the OCA challenged the right of lesbians and gay men to align themselves with the victims of the Holocaust. In the 1994 campaign for ballot measure 13, which sought to deny civil rights to lesbians and gays, a rightwing group calling itself “Jews and Friends of Holocaust Victims” purchased space in the Official Oregon Voters Pamphlet (1994:79) arguing in favor of the ballot measure:

Who’s a Nazi? Americans are watching history repeat as homosexuals promote the BIG LIE that everyone who opposes them is harmful to society. It’s nothing new. They used this tactic in Germany against the Jews…Don’t buy the BIG LIE. Opponents of minority status for homosexuals are not “Nazis” or “bigots”. And homosexuals aren’t “victims” of your common sense morality. Protect our children!

Oregon in the early 1990s is the immediate context for The Pink Swastika. The arguments and misuse of history in that book were used in the political battles in Oregon. Here is the text of Ballot Measure 9 which failed in 1992:

1) This state shall not recognize any categorical provision such as “sexual preference,” and similar phrases that include homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism. Quotas, minority status, affirmative action, or any similar concepts shall not apply to these forms of conduct, nor shall government promote these behaviors.

2) State, regional and local governments and their properties and monies shall not be used to promote, encourage, or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism.

3) State, regional and local governments and their departments, agencies and other entities, including specifically the state Department of Higher Education and the public schools, shall assist in setting a standard for Oregon’s youth that recognizes homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse and that these behaviors are to be discouraged and avoided.

On that same day in Colorado, a similar measure passed which was later ruled unconstitutional in Romers vs. Evans. The Ballot Measure 9 link above is to a website for a documentary regarding the initiative. Below is the trailer for the video (Scott Lively is at 53 seconds into the clip).

In my opinion, the arguments used in The Pink Swastika were in direct response to victimization rhetoric used in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, in Oregon, the OCA needed a counterpoint to their ideological opponents. As I noted before this rhetorical situation is being played out in Uganda now with Scott Lively as an instigator.

Next, I will discuss Kevin Abrams, Scott Lively’s co-author and his work in revising the historical record regarding homosexuality and Nazism. Before The Pink Swastika, Abrams published a paper in Peter LaBarbera’s now extinct Lambda Report called “The other side of the pink triangle” which generated a flurry of activity at the time. Although I cannot find that article, there was a lengthy rebuttal and counterpoint from Abrams that I will provide. Along the way, look for contributions from Dr. Wynekin and a page devoted to this topic.

Other posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

Kevin Jennings appointed to Department of Education post

Big surprise, you elect a liberal president, you get liberal cabinet secretaries who in turn appoint liberal people to their departments. I can’t say I was surprised that Education Secretary Arne Duncan appointed Kevin Jennings, founder of GLSEN and co-chair of LGB fundraising for Barack Obama to be the assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education.

That said, I am concerned about this appointment. While in recent years I have warmed to the reasonable objectives of GLSEN which include violence prevention, I am not convinced that Mr. Jennings is the guy for this position. As a backdrop for my concerns about his views, readers should read the 2005 paper, Remembering Brewster.

In this paper, I note that Jennings told two different stories about an encounter with a student, Brewster, at Concord Academy in Massachusetts. In 2004, Mr. Jennings was accused by then chair of the NEA Republican Educators Caucus, Diane Lenning, of failing to report a potential abuse situation involving Brewster. At the time, Mr. Jennings denied the allegation and demanded via detailed letter from his lawyer that Mrs. Lenning retract the accusations. On point, the letter read:

Nowhere in the book does Mr. Jennings state he understood that the student was being abused or victimized, or that he suffered injury from any abuse, or indeed that the student was even having sex.

She never retracted and he never sued.

Later, I was given a tape of a 2000 lecture by Mr. Jennings discussing Brewster. He was speaking to a GLSEN rally in Iowa. In that lecture, he indicated that Brewster was involved in sexual behavior of some kind. After being informed that Brewster was not in class, Jennings went to find him in his room. Here is the relevant part of the talk (click link for the mp3 – you might have to turn up the volume):

And I said, “Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?” And he said, “Well, I’m tired.” And I said, “Well we all are tired and we all got to school today.” And he said, “Well I was out late last night.” And I said, “What were you doing out late on a school night.” And he said, “Well, I was in Boston…” Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, “What were you doing in Boston on a school night Brewster?” He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, “Well I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.” High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn’t know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly so I finally said, “My best friend had just died of AIDS the week before.” I looked at Brewster and said, “You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.” He said to me something I will never forget, He said “Why should I, my life isn’t worth saving anyway.”

If Jennings did not believe he was sexually active, then why advise him to use a condom? His handling of this incident, subsequence defense and alternate stories about it concern me. I have posted this story twice before on this blog and most commenters gay, straight, conservative or liberal agree that such an incident should be reported. I watched him refuse to answer reporter George Archibald’s question about the incident on the floor of the NEA exhibit hall. I do not think he has ever addressed the discrepancies in the accounts. I emailed GLSEN to ask for a comment in 2005 with no reply.

I may be misunderstood with this post. Let me be clear: the sexual orientation of the teacher and/or the student are not relevant to the need to get the parents, school and possibly the authorities involved in helping a troubled student in the situation Jennings described. Also, I am not disputing that GLSEN has appropriately raised awareness about bullying of GLB students; a problem which needs ongoing attention. However, I do wish the point person for school safety was someone with an unambiguous record on school-parent communication. If Mr. Jennings had said something like – ‘hey, that was a rookie mistake, I should have alerted someone about a depressed 15 year old boy being 45 minutes away from his boarding school without permission having sex, perhaps with an adult,’ then I would not have quite the same reaction. Instead, he denied what he earlier acknowledged and threatened to sue.

UPDATE: Some have asked me to verify Jennings position as fund raiser for Obama. Here is a video with Jennings and co-chair Joan Garry introducing Bill Clinton at an Obama fundraiser.

UPDATED POST:

Jennings refers to Brewster as Robertson in his 2006 memoir. In it he acknowledges the young man was in need of safe sex advice.

Tiller murder suspect taken into custody

George Tiller, a notorious Kansas abortion doctor, was shot and killed yesterday in his church foyer. The suspect in his killing, Scott Roeder, was picked up about three hours later according to the Wichita Eagle.

Christian and pro-life groups were out immediately yesterday with condemnations of the shooting.

If readers have new information on Roeder or any pro-life connections, feel free to post a comment. This is a tragic turn of events and one that all pro-life groups should join in condemning.

More details emerging…