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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Huckabee and the Holocaust
Huckabee and the Holocaust:
Marching us to the ovens, Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has tried to steal the headlines for outrageous comments from the Donald. It worked, for a second or two. The Today Show invited him to their first half hour on Tuesday, and did little to challenge him as he stood by his comment that the Iran Nuclear Deal was akin to Chamberlain appeasing Hitler at Munich. I have used the Hitler comparison myself, many times, but have come of late to realize that all comparisons to Hitler are nothing less than an attempt to inflame ignorant minds (not stupid, there is a difference!), coming from someone with a certain lack of imagination himself. Like I said, I put myself there when I see historical similarities, but I try to back what I say with facts.
When Mr. Huckabee talked about having seen the oven doors and made his comparison between Iran and Nazi Germany and Obama and Chamberlain, he missed several key facts. It is easy to look back 75 years and see our mistakes, but to impose what we know on the people who made their decisions before the facts is hubris. The Holocaust was well under way before World War Two began, and yet no one knew. Or, if they did, they blind-eyed it. To portray our involvement in beating Hitler as an effort to save the Jews of Europe is a lie. We did not know the extent of the horrors the Nazis unleashed until we began liberating death camps in 1945.
Munich 1938 was a failed attempt to stave off another disastrous war, with the pain of the brutal War to End All Wars still fresh in everyone’s mind, particularly among the English and French. There were no sanctions in place and there were no large armies doing their maneuvers on Allied bases. Former ally Russia had turned Communist and was isolated from and feared by the West. The League of Nations was a wonderful concept that did not include Germany or Russia and had no authority to enforce any of its decisions on behalf of its members. Hitler’s Germany had pulled itself out of complete economic ruin and national embarrassment imposed by the Peace of Versailles. Then, on its own, Germany built the largest army in Europe and set forth to challenge the world. Jews were a scapegoat for German woes and ethnic cleansing became methodical policy. But none of the combatants, including the United States, entered World War Two over the Jewish Question. To say or imply that we did misses the truth as it was in 1933, 1936, 1938, 1939 or 1941. Those leaders at the time who knew or suspected what Hitler was up to either could not or chose not to do anything about it.
Memory is convenient. Remember the parts we can use, forget the parts that are inconvenient. Retrofit new information to alter past reality. The leaders of Iran have used highly inflammatory rhetoric in verbal attacks on Israel and on the United States. The word war has gone both ways: Israel regularly threatens to bomb Iranian facilities if they prove to be producing material for a nuclear bomb, while American leaders constantly refer to Iran as a Rogue Nation and the Number One Sponsor of Terror worldwide. Neither side trusts the other, which is probably wise. But Mike Huckabee tells us not to trust ourselves or the other five nations who helped broker this deal, or the United Nations which supports the deal enthusiastically. We have huge armies and we have sanctions that can snap back into place instantly, as needed. Meanwhile we offer Iran the first step back into the family of nations. Isolated, like Russia in the 1930’s, or facing economic ruin, like Germany in the 1920’s, Iran is infinitely more dangerous to world peace. And, as a local newspaper editor wrote in his own editorial that was surprisingly favorable to the deal, there is always time to start a war. Lets try diplomacy.
Memory is convenient, Mr. Huckabee. We ignore or forget all our alliances with terrible people who committed human rights violations, because it is convenient to do so. At this very moment we are working closely with Turkey in the fight against ISIS. The Turks are keen to deny and forget the Armenian Genocide of 1915 that they undertook with methodical efficiency. They also hate the Kurds in Syria, who are our allies, as much as or more than they hate ISIS. They are using the opportunity to bomb ISIS positions to attack Kurdish targets at the same time. Yet we call Turkey our ally and friend, because it is useful to do so and, honestly, how long should we hold a grudge? So, Mr. Huckabee, before you go making ludicrous comparisons to events long passed that you obviously do not fully understand, perhaps you should keep your stones to yourself.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..