Sunday, June 13, 2004

It's the Nazism, stupid 

The separation of church and state doesn't prevent men of the cloth from holding and voicing strong political opinions; but neither does the direct line to the Holy Spirit guarantee that one will not talk shit on matters outside of theology. For the latest example see Father Andrew Greeley's column in Chicago "Sun Times", joyfully titled "Is U.S. like Germany of the '30s?"

Kind of, yes, according to Father Greeley. You see, people wanted a strong leader, so they democratically elected one, albeit not by a majority. Geddit? How's that for a sophisticated historical analysis? Never mind that Germany endured a humiliating defeat in a world war, while America triumphed in the Cold War. Never mind that Germany in the 1920s and the early 30s was a political mess, while America has a stable and legitimate government. Never mind that German economy was a basketcase hit with a double-whammy of war reparations and the world depression, while America still enjoys the status of economic superpower. Never mind that Hitler acted out of mixture of racial hatred and political irredentism, while America was provoked into its current war by a terrorist attack. Oh, just never mind.

Having established uncanny parallels between the Germany of the 1930s and his present day homeland, the good Father goes on to cast his eye at the political leadership then and now:
"[Bush] is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism. They have in common a demagogic appeal to the worst side of a country's heritage in a crisis. Bush is doubtless sincere in his vision of what is best for America. So too was Hitler. The crew around the president -- Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, the 'neo-cons' like Paul Wolfowitz -- are not as crazy perhaps as Himmler and Goering and Goebbels. Yet like them, they are practitioners of the Big Lie -- weapons of mass destruction, Iraq democracy, only a few 'bad apples'."
Don't you just love the whole "Bush is not Hitler, but..." thing? Not too worry, though, a bit more demagoguery, a bit more craziness, a few more lies, and Father Greeley's dream of the Bush Administration exterminating six million Jews might yet come true.

In case you were wondering, there is no mention in the whole opinion piece of Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. The contrast with real evil could perhaps inadvertently shake the credibility of the good Father's argument. No mention either of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq who don't have to suffer anymore under two of the most oppressive regimes of recent times. How curious, these omissions. Why, it's almost like discussing the American involvement in World War Two without even once mentioning Hitler or Tojo; or the Holocaust for the matter.

Not for me, of course, to teach Father Greeley about some Christian virtues, but how about a bit more charity towards victims (real victims) of dictatorships and theocracies (no, Father Greeley, the United States doesn't qualify)? I understand how no good Christian could have rejoiced in the carnage and horror of the Second World War, but surely once it was all over, there was a good case for going down on one's knees and thanking the Almighty that the obscenity of Nazism had been vanquished. But the problem for Father Greeley, I fear, is not that the war has been fought, but that in Afghanistan and Iraq the wrong side won.


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