Over the Top? Maybe Not.
I read this piece by Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice and at first wasn’t going to blog about it, because I thought his analogy was a bit of a stretch. He wrote about some nasty historical echoes to Nazi justifications for political violence that he sees in the pile-on that’s going on among righties against Lauren Valle (the Move On activist who was attacked by a couple of volunteers for the Rand Paul campaign), basically saying (the righties) that she brought the attack on herself and that she should apologize to her assailants, Mike Pezzano (who wrestled her to the ground) and Tim Profitt (who stomped on her).
It is truly incredible that the assailant, Mr. Proffitt, now believes that his victim owes him apology for the vicious assault of her head on his boot – but not surprising, not at all. This is how it works when you know you are doing ordained work. There is precedent
Yup, I’m going to go all Godwin on you right here, right now.
Here’s Adolf Hitler, speaking to the Industry Club of Düssledorf in January, 1932, (I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine contemporary analogues to that venue) explaining why the wealthy industrialists in his audience should actually welcome the inconvenience of Nazi-led street battles and Brown Shirt beat-downs of passing soft targets.
“I know perfectly well, gentlemen, that when the National Socialists march through the streets and there is a sudden tumult and uproar, the Bürger …looks out and says ‘they’re disturbing my rest again.’”
But consider, Hitler argued, the suffering endured by those forced to brutalize a seemingly endless parade of random targets. , Remember, he said “It is also a sacrifice when hundreds of thousands of men of the SA and SS have to get into trucks every day to protect meetings and make marches.”And what’s more – there would be no need for such sacrifice, nor for the ruffled comfort of the comfortable. All that was needed was to sign on to the vision that set the Brown Shirts off. If everyone were a thug, Hitler promised, if only “the whole nation had the same faith in its calling as these hundreds of thousands, if the whole nation possessed this idealism, a quite different Germany would be standing before the world today.” (Gordon Craig, Germany: 1866-1945, Oxford: 1978, p.556).
As indeed it was, barely a year later.
Please note: I’m not arguing here that Paul is some Gauleiter, bent on unleashing fascist hordes throughout Kentucky or the nation. But it’s important to remember just what it means when you base your politics on “the bitch/liberal/gay/black/unbeliever/coastal/whoever had it coming.”
It means the next stomping may well not be far behind, obviously. But what scares me more is that it also means that sh*t like this slides by the easier when no one actually bleeds at the end of the day. It’s harder to get worked up when it’s just some folks who aren’t American enough (not candidates for that very different Germany) won’t get to cast a ballot this time around.
I understand the history behind the analogy, but blaming the victim has a long, long history in our society (think: rape survivors, civilians killed in war when it’s us who killed them, etc.). True, Levenson is talking about political violence, but still, I wasn’t sure I could go that far. After all, Rand Paul has not endorsed Nazi ideology or expressed admiration for the Nazis, so it’s not as if he would necessarily attract that kind of supporter.
Then I read this, by Josh Marshall:
I’d thought Richard Iott had been put out to pasture after news broke that his main hobby was Nazi reenacting. After that Rep. Eric Cantor (R) denounced him. And then everything pretty much went down hill from there when he started saying that he didn’t think we were in a position to judge the SS soldiers who did all the cool stuff on the Eastern Front.
But apparently Iott is out of the dog House. And back in John Boehner’s House.
This Saturday John Boehner is going to appear at a special pre-election rally with Iott in Toledo.
And yes I know that Richard Iott and Rand Paul are two different people, but if it’s true that “the next stomping is not far behind,” then maybe it IS a bit worrisome when the House Minority Leader throws his arms (so to speak) around a Nazi sympathizer. Not that it wouldn’t be worrisome on its own, of course.