Springtime for Hitler and Uncle Pat

Really, Pat Buchanan? Really?

Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaiser’s fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?

Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.

Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Miklos Horthy’s Hungary and Father Jozef Tiso’s Slovakia.

Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France. And he had written off Alsace, because reconquering Alsace meant war with France, and that meant war with Britain, whose empire he admired and whom he had always sought as an ally.

Beach_HitlerNow, this is not the first time that Pat Buchanan has expressed the opinion that Hitler is a tragically misunderstood figure who only killed about 14 million Jews, homosexuals, Roma, people with disabilities, Russians, Catholics, and other people who committed the sin of being not-sufficiently-Aryan because the Allies were mean ol’ bullies. In Buchanan’s mind, Hitler was simply going about his business, taking over Czechoslovakia because they only gave him the Sudetenlandand he wanted a better view of Hungary, and invading Poland because they wouldn’t agree to let Germany have Gdańsk, when suddenly, wham-o!, the Allies decide to fight him, simply because they had an alliance with Poland. The nerve! Then, what choice did he have but to commit mass genocide on a breathtaking scale? I mean, it’s pretty much the obvious course of action, am I right?

This is, needless to say, completely and utterly blinkered. Matt Yglesias does a nice job of summarizing:

[I]t’s perfectly clear that Hitler did want to invade Russia. The need for a German-Soviet war to obtain lebensraum was long at the center of his thinking. That’s whyGeneralplan Ost was prepared in the early years of the war and called for German occupation of vast swathes of Soviet territory. The answer to Buchanan’s riddle of how Hitler intended to invade Russia when Russia and Germany were separated by Poland is, of course, that Hitler intended to conquer Poland, the very thing that Buchanan is perversely trying to deny he intended to do.The real question for Buchanan is why, if Hitler had no intention of marching through Poland into Russia, did he follow up his conquest of Poland by breaking the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and invading Russia? The answer, of course, is that Hitler wanted to conquer Eastern Europe and the western USSR from the beginning.

The answer, of course, is that Pat Buchanan wants to believe Adolf Hitler was misunderstood, and wasn’t an enemy of America and the West, because deep down, he finds much of what Hitler stood for to be admirable. He’s anti-gay (not homophobic; he doesn’t fear homosexuals, he wants to eliminate them), he’s racist, he’s sexist, and he’s deeply, offensively anti-Semitic. He has trafficked in Holocaust denial, going so far as to refer to “group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics” from those suffering from “so-called Holocaust survivor syndrome.”

I know, I know, Godwin’s law says that I can’t say Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer. So I’ll just quote the man himself:

Hitler was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him…Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.

Patrick J. Buchanan, 1977

So Pat Buchanan is an avowed admirer of Adolf Hitler who once claimed that nobody was gassed at Treblinka because “Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.” This is not news. We’ve known this for thirty years. And yet he keeps showing up on MSNBC, over and over and over again.

I frankly don’t know what it would take for Pat Buchanan to lose his job at this point, although he most certainly should. Decent societies may let anti-Semites speak, but they don’t invite them to dinner parties. But in a way, I’m glad he sticks around. One can draw a bright line from Buchanan’s 1996 Presidential run — when he won New Hampshire and threatened Bob Dole for the nomination — straight through to the teabagger movement today. When Pitchfork Pat called on his supporters not to wait for orders from headquarters, but to mount up and ride to the sound of the guns, he inspired the worst elements of the right. He is the voice of a large segment of the Republican Party. And he is a supporter of the worst human being to live in the last two hundred years. And those two things, sadly, are not in conflict.

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30 Responses to Springtime for Hitler and Uncle Pat

  1. 1
    Nirvanah Crane says:

    Urgh!I’m German,hadn’t heard of this Buchanan person up until now,and those quotes nearly had me losing my lunch.Rarely have I read something so demented,disgusting and divorced from reality.And you’re telling me this cretin is given ANY airtime or public recognition?!?Anyone whot spouted vile crap like this in Germany would be shunned and publicly denounced by any half-decent person,including his children and pet gerbils.Hateful,delusional propaganda is not my idea of free speech.

  2. 2
    Aaron Boyden says:

    Strange; Buchanan’s theory in his book is that Hitler did want a war with the Soviet Union, but wanted to do it with the Poles as allies (and without fighting France and England). Or perhaps I shouldn’t think it strange that he isn’t very consistent.

  3. 4
    Manju says:

    My take on this is first of all we must realize Buchanan is a secret admirer of Obama, who is, as we all know by now, the second coming of Hitler, well maybe third considering W got there first but with that recent peaceful transition of power thingie I think Georgie loses any claim to the crown. What a disappointment!

    But i digress. Where was i? Oh yes! So, by repositioning Adolf as a man of peace, Pat cleverly deploys a coded subtext (and remember kids, he’s a student of the Southern Strategy) into the body politck of Obama as great peacemaker.

    In fact, clearly the Obama camp is the puppetmaster behind this whole theatre. Brilliant!

  4. 5
    Jenny says:

    Ugh. I can’t believe Anti-war.com likes him!

  5. 6
    PG says:

    Jenny,

    Why is this surprising? Buchanan is a paleoconservative isolationist. He thinks the U.S. should go to war… pretty much never. So it’s perfectly reasonable for him to argue that WWII was an unnecessary war. Acknowledging that Hitler was a force of evil that could be stopped only by going to war would force him to be pro-war for at least that instance.

  6. 7
    MisterMephisto says:

    PG said

    Acknowledging that Hitler was a force of evil that could be stopped only by going to war would force him to be pro-war for at least that instance.

    This, of course, is the problem with all absolutist approaches.

    Which we’ve constantly seen evidence of in the Republican fold.

    Whether it’s “Isolation! Forever!” leading to pro-Hitler propaganda or “Socialism is Communism is EVIL!!” leading to the weird mental gymnastics and outright lies used to combat universal healthcare; this absolutist, black-and-white, good-and-evil approach to all things is the sort of thinking that leads individuals among the Republican Party (and a large portion of its faithful) to do and say and support the horrifying things that the GOP does and says and supports as a whole.

  7. 8
    Matt says:

    Anti-War.com is paleoconservative isolationism in exactly the same mold as Buchanan. In the same mold as the America First movement both have tried to rehabilitate. It’s surprising to me anyone likes Anti-war .com, but not that a-w .com likes Buchanan. Jews, long blamed for all wars, make convenient scapegoats for hawkish pseudo-peaceniks like Raimondo, Buchanan, and Mel Gibson.

  8. 9
    Renee says:

    I knew Pat was ill but rarely have ever seen a case so well laid against him. You are right that at some point continuing to give him a platform from which to spew his hate is supporting anti-Semitism. There is a difference between hate speech and free speech and many Americans do not see the dividing line unless it directly effects them.

  9. 10
    Dianne says:

    Am I the only one bothered by the photo illustrating this post?

  10. 11
    Andrew says:

    So because one questions the events leading up to WWII it means they support Hitler? Does that mean that if someone doubts the official story about torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, they are a communist?

    Also,

    Mark wrote:
    “Anti-War.com is paleoconservative isolationism in exactly the same mold as Buchanan. In the same mold as the America First movement both have tried to rehabilitate. It’s surprising to me anyone likes Anti-war .com, but not that a-w .com likes Buchanan. Jews, long blamed for all wars, make convenient scapegoats for hawkish pseudo-peaceniks like Raimondo, Buchanan, and Mel Gibson.”

    The reason why people like anti-war.com shouldn’t be surprising. It’s popular because it contains columns by people who oppose wars regardless of whether the White House is inhabited by an elephant or an ass.

    Anti-war.com doesn’t have anti-Jewish writers, but they do have writers who oppose the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. There is nothing anti-Jewish about that (see here, for example: http://www.jatonyc.org)

    How exactly is Justin Raimondo a “psueudo-peacenik”? He’s done more to oppose war than the “leftists” who march against Bush’s wars, but are silent when Obama escalates the war on Afghanistan. Those liberals who currently ignore the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the true psuedo-peaceniks. Not the libertarians and paleocons who consistently oppose war.

  11. 12
    Jeff Fecke says:

    Am I the only one bothered by the photo illustrating this post?

    What specifically bothers you?

    Incidentally, I chose the photo because the Hitler from the play-within-a-play in The Producers does seem to be very much like the Hitler Buchanan imagines. Except, of course, that Buchanan would never view Hitler as gay.

    After all, he just wants peace — a little piece of Poland….

  12. 13
    Auguste says:

    QT’s second-stage-syphilis Hitler is my new favorite, but the “Springtime for” is a close second.

    Dianne, if you haven’t seen the original film The Producers, hie thee.

  13. 14
    PG says:

    So because one questions the events leading up to WWII it means they support Hitler? Does that mean that if someone doubts the official story about torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, they are a communist?

    Depends on whether the doubt about the official story is based in the belief that persons holding communist ideology could never be aggressors. Buchanan seems a lot less concerned about “questioning” how Pearl Harbor occurred, for example.

  14. 15
    Manju says:

    This, of course, is the problem with all absolutist approaches.

    Which we’ve constantly seen evidence of in the Republican fold.

    Whether it’s “Isolation! Forever!” leading to pro-Hitler propaganda or “Socialism is Communism is EVIL!!” leading to the weird mental gymnastics and outright lies used to combat universal healthcare; this absolutist, black-and-white, good-and-evil approach to all things is the sort of thinking that leads individuals among the Republican Party (and a large portion of its faithful) to do and say and support the horrifying things that the GOP does and says and supports as a whole.

    Buchanan’s anything but absolutist. He’s an old time isolationist and anti-imperialist (opposed the Iraq war as well as supported Obama in his dealings with iran b/c he acknowledged US imperialism in the region) along burkean grounds…ie a deep respect for tradition, culture, history, religion and generally does not believe in spreading democracy and human rights for that reason. call it right wing multiculturalism if you will. it //s edmund burkes famous opposition to colonialism

    this is a highly nuanced position and he’s on record for consistently crossing party lines (iraq, supporting obama in iran, breaking with the Israeli consensus) . However, he made an exception for anti-communism, probably because the latter was a peculiar form of domination that didn’t grow organically from a culture, unlike fascism (i’m guessing a little here).

    Pats basically a capitalist but his version is nationalistic. he supports protectionism, opposes globalization at least as far as it hurts American interests (like driving down wages for the working class american as jobs go overseas) and has regularly mocked free market fundamentalism.

    his positions on Iraq, globalization, markets, free trade, Israel, etc align with progressives but come from a very different foundation. to accuse someone who breaks so dramatically from the prevailing republican zeitgiest to be an example of the said zeitgiests simplicity makes no sense.

    i always found him interesting. i hope his msnbc keeps him on the show.

  15. 16
    Jeff Fecke says:

    to accuse someone who breaks so dramatically from the prevailing republican zeitgiest to be an example of the said zeitgiests simplicity makes no sense.

    Buchanan is very much a part of the current Republican Zeitgeist; he’s the Patriarch of the Palin wing of the party (Palin, you may recall, was a Buchanan supporter in ’92 and ’96). Buchanan is a part of the populist wing of the party, the part that is animated by cultural issues, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Communism (back in the day), anti-Muslim sentiment (today). His economic views are best described as fascist in nature — and I use that term advisedly.

    Buchanan’s wing of the party is nativist, populist, and isolationist at heart. While the right generally supported Bush after 9/11 (support of a strong leader lying at the heart of Buchananite conservatism), the isolationism of this segment can be seen in opposition to any global entanglements, including the UN.

    These are the footsoldiers of the GOP, the rabble. They’re the ones showing up at town hall meetings with guns, the ones joining the Minutemen. These are Pat’s people. No, he doesn’t stand for all Republicans, or even most. But he stands for a sizable minority of the party, and perhaps the most vocal part of the party.

  16. 17
    Manju says:

    “Buchanan is very much a part of the current Republican Zeitgeist;”

    True, but he’s not part of the zeitgeist’s simplicity, was my point. i’m part of the simplicity, being generally libertarian with a streak of hyper moral randain anti-communism. but i’ve learned to be unprincipled and am therefore harder to mock as a simpleton, thanks in part to people like pat.

    So, i’d like to have him around. in return, i’l let your side keep a communist sympathizer (besides hitchens).

  17. 18
    Dianne says:

    What specifically bothers you?

    That Hitler is being potrayed in a stereotypical gay manner. Gays were among the groups targeted for genocide in the Nazi era. It seems a bit like showing Hitler wearing a yalmake. Just a little tasteless, even for satire.

  18. 19
    Mandolin says:

    Dianne — I’m mostly not commenting on the blog anymore, but MUSICAL THEATER MEANS I HAVE TO… — anyway, that’s specifically part of the reason why the joke works. The musical shows Jewish Nazis, so they are also showing Hitler with a yamulke metaphorically.

    Mel Brooks (the author of the original movie, and one of the collaborators on the eventual musical) has said that he feels the power of comedy is that it reduces even the most dire and dangerous figures to things you can laugh at. The movie and the musical take both the Nazis generally and Hitler specifically and show them up as hollow and risible.

    The satire is very intelligent, although I can see how that would be difficult to grok from a still. There’s a broader context to the storyline that explains why gay Hitlers and Jewish Nazis are both appropriate and funny. Check out the original movie if you prefer Zero Mostel, or the musical (which was made into a movie) if you prefer Nathan Lane. (More honestly: check out the original movie if you don’t mind slightly slower pacing. If your internal pacing meter is calibrated to expect the quicker movement of really recent films, then check out the movie musical.)

    FWIW, the lyrics that Hitler would be singing during this still are:

    I was just a paper-hanger, no one more obscurer.
    Got a phone call from the Reichstag, told me (gasp) I was fuhrer.
    Germany was blue. What, oh what, to do?
    Hitched up my pants and conquered France
    now Deutschland’s smiling through.
    (spoken, told in the style of a star recalling how she was once a chorus girl) but it wasn’t always so easy! It was 1932. Hindenburg was working the big room and I… I was playing the lounge. And then I got my big break. Somebody burned down the Reichstag. And would you believe it? They made me Chancellor. Chancellor!

    (and a bit earlier)
    Heil Myself!
    Heil to me!
    I’m the Kraut who’s out to change our history!
    Heil myself! Raise your hand!
    There’s no greater dictator in the land!

    The line reserved for Mel Brooks (because he spoke it in the original movie) is: Don’t be stupid. Be a smartie! Come and join the Nazi party!

  19. 20
    Matt says:

    Also,

    Mark wrote:

    First, Andrew, It’s Matt, not Mark. Second, as I said, Raimondo opposes wars in the same mold as Buchanan, in the same mold as Buchanan does in the article for which he’s being criticized here. And there’s plenty to criticize about a-w .com, starting with their appreciation for Buchanan, and continuing with Raimondo’s attempts to rehabilitate the America First movement. Of course, there was no surprise people liked the America First movement, as they opposed entering war regardless of who was in power.

    Noticing a trend here? It’s because antisemites like to portray themselves as peaceful, and often get away with it because Jews are so easily scapegoated for war.

    And don’t play me off other Jews, where you claim the power to decide who gets to represent the lot of us in deciding what is and isn’t antisemitic. That, in itself, is more than enough problematic.

    Now, for more wonderful Mel Brooks and Hitler, I never tire of his Hitler Rap. Talk about putting a yarmulke on Hitler — Brooks portrays Hitler. And my are those Nazis just fabulous, tied up in their fetish boots.

  20. 21
    Andrew says:

    First, Andrew, It’s Matt, not Mark. Second, as I said, Raimondo opposes wars in the same mold as Buchanan, in the same mold as Buchanan does in the article for which he’s being criticized here.

    Except that Raimondo does not oppose wars in the same mold as Buchanan. Buchanan was a paleocon Cold Warrior, whereas Raimondo is a libertarian who has made statements opposing the US involvement in Vietnam. Not everyone who is “right-wing” and anti-war have the same political views. Pat Buchanan, George Will, and Ron Paul are all considered “right-wing” and have spoken out against the Iraq War, yet they have vastly different opinions on many issues.

    And there’s plenty to criticize about a-w .com, starting with their appreciation for Buchanan, and continuing with Raimondo’s attempts to rehabilitate the America First movement. Of course, there was no surprise people liked the America First movement, as they opposed entering war regardless of who was in power.

    Oh, no, they believe that we should focus on America’s problems instead of causing problems in other countries! How horrible!

    And what is wrong with opposing war regardless of who is in power? That’s called being “principled.” Something that most anti-war “leftists” are not (with exceptions such as Alexander Cockburn, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, etc.)

    Noticing a trend here? It’s because antisemites like to portray themselves as peaceful, and often get away with it because Jews are so easily scapegoated for war.

    Once again, anti-Zionism and antisemitism are not the same.

    And don’t play me off other Jews, where you claim the power to decide who gets to represent the lot of us in deciding what is and isn’t antisemitic. That, in itself, is more than enough problematic.

    I did not “claim the power to decide who gets to represent the lot of us in deciding what is and isn’t antisemitic.” I just linked to a group that has a more sane definition of “antisemitism” than you do.

  21. 22
    Matt says:

    Oh, no, they believe that we should focus on America’s problems instead of causing problems in other countries! How horrible!

    If you’re not aware, the AF movement argued for that by scapegoating Jews. Here’s Lindbergh’s Des Moines speech. Consider it a test.

    If you look at a-w. com, the latest Raimondo article, in defense of Buchanan, repeats the same lies criticized here:

    Oh, but no: to the “bloggers,” left and right, this is a case of “Pat Buchanan, Hitler Apologist.” In the political culture constructed by these pygmies, any challenge to the conventional wisdom – especially one that involves questioning WWII, the Sacred War – is something close to a criminal act, one that separates out the perpetrator from the realm of polite society and consigns him to an intellectual Coventry, where he can do no harm. And of course attacking US entry into WWII is considered a “hate crime” because – well, what are you, some kind of “Hitler apologist”?!

  22. 23
    PG says:

    And of course attacking US entry into WWII is considered a “hate crime” because – well, what are you, some kind of “Hitler apologist”?!

    I wonder if paleocons will ever become literate enough to grasp the difference between a hate crime (illegal in the U.S.) and hate speech (protected by the 1st Amendment).

  23. 24
    Manju says:

    I wonder if paleocons will ever become literate enough to grasp the difference between a hate crime (illegal in the U.S.) and hate speech (protected by the 1st Amendment).

    Well, if Pat got into a bar fight with Alan Dershowitz over his Hitler thesis, then maybe its a hate crime.

  24. 25
    Jenny says:

    Manju: what’s your point here? Buchanan is simply isolationist to a rather alarming extreme, that’s all we’re saying. And what the hell do you mean by saying fascism is “organic”?

  25. 26
    Matt says:

    Rebecca Lessing points to an old Slate article that explains something.

    In 1999, pro-fascism is such a bizarre stance that it’s almost easier to believe Buchanan isn’t saying what he seems to be saying than to recognize his views for what they are.

    No wonder it’s so hard for people (even here, where it’s almost shocking) to simply say he’s an antisemite.

  26. 27
    Jeff Fecke says:

    No wonder it’s so hard for people (even here, where it’s almost shocking) to simply say he’s an antisemite.

    As Molly Ivins once said of a Buchanan speech, it was good, but she thought it sounded better in the original German.

  27. 28
    Robert says:

    What irritates me the most about Pat Buchanan – and I’ll readily admit that I have the luxury of putting this irritation first because he doesn’t pose any threat to me or mine – is that his historical analysis is interesting and he brings up some things that deserve discussion. You don’t have to be a Nazi sympathizer or an anti-Semite to understand why Hitler was popular and came to power, or to see value in his discussions of the US role in world politics.

    But he IS a sympathizer and an anti-Semite and so these interesting intellectual questions carry some appalling real-world baggage because it’s him bringing them up.

  28. 29
    SnowdropExplodes says:

    “Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet”

    In fact, Mr Buchanan, when the French actually surrendered, he did demand the French fleet.

    The British fleet was ordered to sink as much as possible of the French fleet (and did so, effectively an act of mass murder) before it could fall into German hands (this was despite assurances by the French admiralty that the fleet would be scuppered instead of being handed over to the Germans – Churchill was sufficiently scared of the prospect that he wasn’t going to settle for anything elss than having the French fleet docked in British ports). As it happened, when the orders came following the surrender to hand over the surviving ships to the Germans, the French sailors carried out the promise their admiralty had given to Churchill, and scuppered the ships.

    Oh yeah, and Hitler wanted Danzig back, along with the chunk of former Prussian territory that linked Poland to Danzig and the sea – he couldn’t get that back without invading Poland!

  29. 30
    chingona says:

    his historical analysis is interesting and he brings up some things that deserve discussion

    It would be more interesting and worthy of discussion if he was more historically accurate. As it stands, he twists things considerably to make his conclusion even remotely plausible.

    Which is not to say there aren’t interesting questions outside the “good war” myth-making to consider about WWII. They just don’t include whether Hitler didn’t really mean any harm.