The Real Neo-Nazi Threat
There is no longer a threat of Nazism in Europe thanks to the annihilation of Germany by the Allied forces. Neo-Nazis are a fringe group quickly damned by the vast majority of decent people. Neo-Nazis are so rare in America that they are a freak show, trotted out for periodic display by television magazine shows. In one recent show, ABC’s Primetime, we hear about the pre-teen singing duo, the Gaede twins, who try to make Neo-Nazism adorable. Later in the show we see that this pathetic movement has few prospects – the Neo-Nazis were chased away when they tried to bring food for-whites-only in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The fact that racism doesn’t sell in Mississippi shows how far the country has changed.
It’s safe to damn Nazism. Elliot Spitzer, who is running for governor of New York, mentions in a TV ad how he is fighting Neo-Nazism here in New York. He has it under control. Mel Gibson, while drunk, says some stupid things and there is an immediate outcry. We nipped that one in the bud. Günter Grass finally admitted he was in the Waffen-SS and without any hesitation we have Ferguson, Hitchens, and others on the case. Quite frankly, he’s not the person who worries me today.
Nevertheless I do understand: we should never forget. As Santayana once wrote, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is important we remember what Günter Grass remembers (from Catherine Hickley’s review in the New York Sun):
Mr. Grass remembers, at the age of 12, watching curiously as a horde of storm troopers plundered, destroyed and set fire to a synagogue. "As a member of the Hitler Youth I was a young Nazi," he says. "A believer until the end."
We find Mr. Grass “chastising his young self for not asking the right questions and for failing to doubt the Nazi regime.” Indeed, the story is one we’ve heard often: good people who stand by and do nothing or worse, allow themselves to be caught-up in the hysteria.
But have we learned anything?
As we vociferously condemn Mel Gibson and the pre-teen Neo-Nazi twins, a leader of a major Islamic nation denies the Holocaust and announces his desire to annihilate the Jewish state. While the damnation of German Nazis and neo-Nazis is emphatic and swift, damnation of Islamic Nazis is tentative, hesitant, and laced with doubt. We see little focus by the mainstream media on this Islamic Nazi. No, I take that back. We find an ill-prepared Mike Wallace unable to ask the tough questions when he interviewed the thug-in-chief. This is not the way he’d interview Mel Gibson.
As Joel C. Rosenberg, says in the above article: “Iran is the new Germany. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the new Adolf Hitler. Radical Shiite Islamic jihadists are the new Nazi storm troopers. The pursuit of the Twelfth Imam is the pursuit of the new Third Reich. CBS News had both the opportunity and responsibility to help the world truly understand this regime and the danger it poses. It failed miserably, and we are all poorer for it.”
Few writers are as resolute as
What is missing is conceptual thought. Human knowledge is inherently conceptual in nature. We have the ability to see the similarities in different cases – to see that two distinct objects may be of one kind. It is this ability that enables us to bring to bear the knowledge gained in the past to the situation today. Santayana’s statement above, if not wrong, is woefully incomplete. Memory is useless without the concept that unites past experience to present dilemmas.
While a few on the right correctly see the parallels to the 1930s, the left is replete with pathetic excuses. “
No two situations will ever be exactly the same. They are similar in kind. The ability to think conceptually involves seeing the commonality of essence amidst the plethora of incidental (or what Aristotle calls ‘accidental’) attributes. Instead of principles, we’ve adopted the philosophy of Pragmatism.
Pragmatism is an American disposition that is highly suspicious of abstract concepts and time-tested generalities. Under the banner of “what works” it becomes a seat-of-the-pants trial-and-error process-centered non-ideology ideology. It is the antithesis of building well-establish concepts which can form the foundation for the future growth in our knowledge. I discussed how Pragmatism blinded us to the nature of communism in the Red Decade. It now blinds us to the Islamic threat. We can’t see the similarity between Islamic Nazism and German Nazism. We can’t even see the similarity within Islam that defines its essential core.
Thus we stand agog looking at a repeat of history unwilling to trust out eyes, unable to hear the alarm, and adamant in refusing to use our minds … until reality hits us in the face as it did in 1939 and 2001. Perhaps this is why many people say “we need another 9/11 or worse” before we act. If that’s true, we’ll get it. Quite frankly I prefer to learn from inference rather than harsh experience. We’ve had enough experience to draw the correct conclusions many times over. Now, let’s roll.