Jerusalem Post Chides Mike Huckabee for Holocaust Analogy

Adding to the fallout over Mike Huckabee’s ill-advised comparison of the Iran nuclear treaty to the Holocaust, the Jerusalem Post rebuked the GOP presidential hopeful earlier today.
Certainly, the Israelis oppose the Iran deal but lament that Huckabee’s comment make it harder to secure the opposition necessary to derail it. The Post says:

As for sense, Huckabee’s comment just made it tougher for Israel and its allies in Washington to round up Democratic votes needed to override a presidential veto.

Huckabee made the remarks last Saturday:

Speaking with Breitbart News Saturday, the former Arkansas governor called Barack Obama “feckless” and “naive,” adding that by signing the deal the President “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Huckabee hasn’t backed away except to claim he wasn’t comparing President Obama to Hitler.
The JPost disagrees:

But in Netanyahu’s analogy, the Obama administration and the West are playing the role of Neville Chamberlain. Huckabee, on the other hand, cast President Barack Obama as Hitler when the Republican presidential hopeful declared that the Iran deal “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” 

Huckabee’s rhetoric doesn’t appear to be helping him with evangelicals. In a survey of evangelical leaders from World magazine, only 4% of participants favored Huckabee as their first choice.

Glenn Beck, Raoul Wallenberg, and the Mysterious Russian Soldier: Embellishing an Already Great Story

Glenn Beck used a lot of artifacts to tell his stories during his July 5, 2015 talk at Fellowship Church in the Fort Worth are. Previously, I have commented on his false account of the Aitken Bible story and his theological statement  that America is a covenant nation. Today, I want to comment on his story about Raoul Wallenberg. First, listen to what Glenn Beck said about Wallenberg.

This is a document from Raoul Wallenberg. Raoul Wallenberg is one of my heroes. He was a Swedish emissary at the embassy during the 2nd World War and he tried to stand up for the Jews.  This is a passport.
His King told him, ‘don’t do this, we have enough trouble, please don’t do this, we have enough trouble.’ But he was in Budapest and he saw what was happening to the Jews and he stood up.
And he would go to the train cars where they had taken all the Jews and he would take these, a handful of them and stuff them between the slats of the train while standing on top of the train and then he’d finally give them in and say everybody take one of these, quickly take one, and he would say, ‘Stop! Stop the train! You have the wrong people, you have my citizens in there! He saved thousands.
This is one of the last ones that he wrote, the woman he wrote it for begged him to leave; he wouldn’t.  He said, ‘the Russians couldn’t be as bad as the Germans, and the Russians were right around the corner. He was last seen running into the arms of the Russian military. This is a cigarette case that was carried by one of those soldiers that he ran into the arms of. One of the first troops that came in. Wallenberg ran up to them and begged them for help, ‘help, help me save the Jews, help me save, stop this insanity. What’s on this cigarette case in Russian is carved, ‘Let’s kill all of the Jews and go home.’
Anti-semitism, hatred, racism is a human disease. We must look for the answers outside of the human race. We must look for the answers in God and Jesus Christ.

This story didn’t sound quite right. The part about Wallenberg saving Jews is right but the cigarette case component seemed like an embellishment. How would anyone know that about the cigarette case? Wallenberg disappeared after the liberation of Budapest and was never seen as a free man in public. He left behind no written accounts.
Curious about it, I contacted the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. Diane Blake is Director of Research and former Vice Chairman of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee. She graciously agreed to watch and evaluate Beck’s clip. Her initial assessment is as follows:

I have never heard anything about a Russian soldier with a hateful cigarette case.  I doubt that it is true.  I do know that Raoul had the support of the Swedish king and Swedish government when he went to Budapest.  When the United States formed the War Refugee Board, they were looking for a Christian from a neutral country to go to Budapest and try to save the last intact Jewish community in Europe.  They approached Sweden and Sweden agreed and Raoul was chosen.
Raoul certainly did not give himself up to Russian soldiers, pleading for help for the Jews.  Raoul got into the car with two Russian soldiers because he had an appointment with Marshal Malinovsky in Debrecen to discuss the next steps for Hungary, i.e.,  the search for missing persons and the reuniting of families, emergency food distribution, help with housing, etc.

Blake’s assessment of the Swedish king agrees the sources I can find on the subject. If Beck has a source where Gustav V actually spoke to Wallenberg and asked him not to go to Budapest, I would like to see it.  King Gustav actually intervened with the Hungarian regime to stop the deportation of Hungarian Jews to death camps. The Swedes were already involved in trying to save Jews in Hungary before Wallenberg was selected for his mission. Beck’s comment about the Swedish king certainly seems like an unnecessary embellishment.
Beck’s story of the cigarette case doesn’t add anything substantial to the story except it gave him an opportunity to show off another collector’s item. According to Blake, Wallenberg was taken into custody and never seen again.

On January 17, 1945,  somewhere en route to Marshal Malinovsky’s headquarters, Raoul and his driver (Vilmos Langfelder) were handed over to the NKVD.  By the first week of February, 1945, they were in separate cells in Moscow’s Lubianka Prison.  Raoul was never seen as a free man again.

In fact, the Russians liberated Budapest and saved the remaining Jewish population. Wallenberg was suspected of being an American spy and for reasons that are not still not totally clear was never released.
Essentially, Beck had it right that Raoul Wallenberg helped save thousands of Jews. However, why embellish? Why over dramatize something that is already amazing?

While we’re on the subject of the Holocaust…

David Irving has a reputation as a world-class Holocaust denier. He also has some views about gays and others which may not be as well known. In this clip from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Youtube page (at about 7:09 and following), you get a sense of his views of blacks, gays and others.

To be clear, Scott Lively does not in any way deny the Holocaust. He makes this clear in his talks. I am only posting this because the broader topic of the Holocaust and Nazism has become of interest since I have undertaken The Pink Swastika series.

PS – David Irving is straight.

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

(Editor’s note: Yesterday, historian Dr. Jon David Wyneken began a series regarding the book, The Pink Swastika by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams. I asked Wyneken for his assessment of the book. Part one was posted yesterday and part two is posted today.)

Stein then reviews and analyzes The Pink Swastika. Now for her sections on Lively and Abrams and the elements of the Christian Right who embrace their arguments:

By the late 1980s and into the 1990s, a new Christian right cultural genre-books, videos, special reports, was specifically dedicated to identifying the gay threat and calling Christian believers to arms; dozens of conservative Christian organizations devoted themselves solely to antigay activities (Herman 1997), and anti-gay discourse came to encompass an attack on the status of homosexuals as a “minority” group deserving equal rights under the law. This marked a shift on the right from a focus on the immorality of homosexuality, to an attribution of superior power to gays. Gays were viewed as undeserving “special interest groups” which have won “special rights” by manipulating government corruption, gerrymandering elections, and appealing to a judicial system dominated by liberals, a powerful, morally corrupt school system, and a Congress that promotes the destruction of the family (Johnston 1994:7; Herman 1997) (Stein, 528-529).

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! (Stein, p. 529).

In the following passage, Stein correctly argues that Lively and his supporters attempt to flip the victimhood metaphor from gays to themselves. The Pink Swastika has been a key aspect of that effort.

The ‘true’ victims are the guardians of ‘common sense morality,’ the Christian right. As a leader of the Oregon Citizens Alliance suggests, “‘gay rights’ activists-not pro-family conservatives and OCA supporters-should be wearing the label of Nazi.” Homosexuality was a CENTRAL element of the fascist system, that the Nazi elite was rampant with homosexuality and pederasty, that Adolph Hitler intentionally surrounded himself with homosexuals during his entire adult life, and that the people most responsible for many Nazi atrocities were homosexual.9 This encapsulates the argument of The Pink Swastika (1995), authored by OCA activist Scott Lively, along with Kevin Abrams, who is identified as an Orthodox Jew residing in Israel. The book is a carefully constructed piece of political rhetoric, mixing serious scholarship with lies and outright distortions, truths with half-truths and falsehoods. The authors draw upon a variety of scholarly sources to make the argument that many, if not all, of the major leaders of the Nazi movement in Germany were homosexuals-including Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, and Hess. While they do admit that homosexuals were persecuted by the Nazis, they suggest that homosexuals comprised the core of the Nazi Party. The Pink Swastika explains how homosexuals can be both Nazis and their victims. The authors contend that more masculine, “butch” homosexuals were responsible for building the Nazi party and creating the SA, or Brownshirts. Male homosexual “femmes” were persecuted by the Nazis, but largely escaped death…The Pink Swastika concludes with the claim that the contemporary gay rights movement, far from sharing a historical lineage with Holocaust ‘victims,’ actually has historical links to the Nazi perpetrators of genocide. (Stein, 530).

Stein then comes to a similar conclusion about the claims made by The Pink Swastika as I do when she writes:

Despite the claim of a direct link between Nazi ideology and homosexuality, historical evidence points to the opposite conclusion: that while the Nazis may have aestheticized homoerotism to a point, they identified homosexuality with the emasculation of men, which they saw as a threat to the traditional patriarchal, procreative family which they idealized. (Stein, 531).

Stein asserts that The Pink Swastika seeks to accomplish ends which serve political, not scholarly, purposes. As noted, the line of thinking employed in book seeks to flip the victim status from gays to conservative Christians. Furthermore, as Stein puts it, the book seeks to “pit two traditionally liberal constituencies, gays and Jews, against one another, thereby…drawing parallels between Jews and Christians” (Stein, 531).

Speaking about Christians who advance the rhetoric and argumentation of The Pink Swastika, Stein writes:

Christian conservatives have deliberately distorted Holocaust memories to deflect lesbian/gay victim claims, and to make moral claims of their own. In the process, they have degraded the memory of Holocaust victims and alleviated the burden on the perpetrators. (Stein, 535).

I generally agree with Stein’s conclusions here, and I ask all those reading this site, no matter their political beliefs, orientations, etc., to thoughtfully consider these conclusions, even though some of her criticisms of your various positions may challenge you.

I would go further, though, than Stein does in challenging the validity of Lively’s book as legitimate and responsible history. First, though Lively does use a number of secondary sources in his research (including scholarly books by Grau, Michael Burleigh, and others), he does no original research in primary archival documents; ; meaning, he has not examined the thousands of documents available on these subjects for himself. While certainly effective synthesis histories can be written from strictly secondary sources (and a number of high-quality historians have written such books), the most effective and legitimate ones are usually written by scholars who have done extensive primary archival research on those subjects in the past and have a mastery of the secondary literature as well. In my professional opinion, Lively does not fit either of these categories.

Second, responsible historians tend to cast a skeptical and cautious eye on any historical conclusions that appear reductionist, monocausal, and polemical in their conclusions. In particular, books that use historical topics to score contemporary political points are often dismissed by scholars out of hand as not dealing with the past honestly. Anachronism is not the historian’s goal or friend. While lessons can and should be drawn from history, these are not nearly as easy to arrive at as many (especially Lively, it seems) think.

Finally, in my opinion (and one that I would hazard a guess many other Christian and secular historians share), in any contemporary debates on ANY political / social subject, the arguments for and against certain positions should be made on the basis of the issues at hand, not on simplistic extrapolations from historical events, figures, and issues that were particular to their own contexts and time periods. Though certainly history can and should elucidate our understanding of the present as well as the past, using the past as a weapon in a contemporary political/social debate is inherently dangerous, for it risks obscuring more measured views of the past with hyperbole, confirmation bias, polemics, and (most importantly for me) historical inaccuracies that, through reductionism, view everything in history and in the present in overly simplistic terms. Doing so, in turn, does nothing to further either better historical inquiry or produce effective academic/political/social dialogue on vital contemporary issues (As an aside, I should also add that for Christians, I dare say, such reductionism is anathema to developing a stronger faith based on humility, prayer, theological study, contemplation, and intellectual honesty). But don’t just take my word for it. A number of excellent scholarly historical works—by both Christians and non-Christians—have been written about the nature of historical inquiry, research and writing, and the historical profession’s purpose(s) in explaining contemporary events and issues. In particular, the works of Richard J. Evans (In Defense of History), John Lewis Gaddis (Landscapes of History), Joyce Abbelby / Lynn Hunt / Margaret Jacob (Telling the Truth About History), and George Marsden (A Christian View of History? and The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship), David Hackett Fisher (Historians’ Fallacies) and Jacques Barzun (The Modern Researcher) all explain and defend various notions of historical inquiry and methodology much more effectively than I can here. All readers of this site, and especially current or aspiring writers, should examine such books in order to learn exactly what historical inquiry is and what it is not. In my mind, Lively’s book is an example of the latter. History is a complex and challenging and often humbling discipline for many reasons, something I ask all readers here to keep in mind as you continue to debate these very important issues.

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

Scott Lively spoke to 10,000 people in Uganda; fights off hate group charge

Scott Lively is not slowing down. He spoke recently to the Murrieta/Temecula Republican Assembly about his book, the Pink Swastika. This meeting was a slated for one venue but was moved due to worries about a possible protest from gay groups – in particular PFLAG.
The whole speech is now on YouTube via the account of the GOP group, Bob Kowell.

In this installment, Lively says he spoke to 10,000 people in Uganda. He also describes his battle with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Because of his advocacy of the thesis that homosexuals were behind the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, two groups he is involved with (Abiding Truth Ministries and Watchmen on the Walls) are on the SPLC list of hate groups.
In his speech, Mr. Lively has answered back his critics at SPLC. He also recently launched a new blog called HateWatch Watch. He claims his groups are unfairly placed on the list.
I asked Grove City College colleague and history prof, JonDavid Wyneken, to evaluate Lively’s thesis. Dr. Wyneken pointed me to a couple of resources which help refute the idea that a homosexual cult was the organized, driving force behind Nazism. One is in a book by esteemed historian Richard Evans, titled, The Third Reich in Power. On pages 529-535, Evans provides information which gives necessary perspective. Specifically, Evans indicates that the Nazis toughened laws against homosexual contact and stepped up their arrests of homosexuals between 1936 to 1938. Evans notes,

“The raids and arrests were co-ordinated from 1 October 1936 by a new Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homsexuality and Abortion, building on the Gestapo department created to deal with the same area in the wake of the Roehm purge, which gave fresh impetus to the wave of persecutions.” (p. 533, 2005).

Dr. Wyneken also provided a link to a document published by the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., by historian Geoffrey J. Giles. Note this brief excerpt describing the views of Himmler about homosexuals. Himmler was not gay. In his young adult years, Himmler read a book by an author – Hartner – and approved of the perspective.

Hartner’s thesis was that an unchecked expansion of the phenomenon of homosexuality would lead quite literally to the “destruction of mankind” (Untergang der Menschheit). He lost himself in speculation about a giant conspiracy, inspired of course by Jews, among whom there was “contrary to Hirschfeld’s assertion, a greater [proportion of homosexuals] by far than in the German population” as a whole. What was the aim of these Jewish homosexuals? They were trying to push Germany down the slippery slope of “increasing infertility” that the French had been sliding down for ages.
You may well wonder whether, if more homosexuals meant fewer babies, that would not have an equally or even more damaging effect on the “heavily homosexual” Jewish people. No, because they, and especially the hated Ostjuden, were still positively infused with a
Zionism that provided an unquenchable fuel for an “unbroken will to fertility” (ungebrochener Fruchtbarkeitswille). The heterosexual Jews would simply produce more babies. Germans lacked this sense of nationalistic mission. Hartner declared in a closing flourish to his chapter that this spread of homosexuality would “surely dig our
graves.” One can almost sense young Himmler (still only twenty-seven years old) shuddering in agreement with these sentiments.

I warn you this paper is not for the squeamish but it gives a perspective regarding homosexuality and the Nazis in contrast to that of Scott Lively. Giles makes it clear that homosexuals were not behind the Nazi movement but rather the victims of it.