March 30, 2005
Return of the swastika (3)By Charles A. Coulombe
But in a sense, both victories were illusory. Napoleon, via his abolition of feudalism in conquered areas, his seizure of Church lands, his consolidation of larger German States (to a mere thirty or so, in contrast with the 300 that had existed in 1789), and most notably his Code Napoleon, had transformed the structure of European governance forever. So too, with Hitler. Partly in response to the same pressures that had brought him to power, partly in direct reaction to him (that is, to win the war), the Western democracies were transformed into the kinds of States that Flynn described in part two of this series. But again, what was lacking in both cases was ideology.
In the case of post—Napoleonic Europe, Bonapartism reemerged with the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, albeit not under that name. Just as Nazism was, in actuality, a subset of a whole family of ideologies (for which we have yet to invent a really accurate name) so too was Bonapartism a variety of Liberalism, properly so called (it seems strange at first glance that Jacobins could have anything in common with Grands Bourgeois, but they do). Despite their initial defeat, those same forces, at least in Germany and Italy, triumphed: Cavour and Bismarck were in their way as much legitimate successors to Napoleon as was Napoleon III. By 1914, all the major powers of Europe could have been described as Bonapartist ——— with results all the world knows, and continues to mourn.
As for ourselves, the ideology of Nazism ——— again, not its appurtenances, the pageantry and the anti—Semitism, but rather the hatred of the past and present, the exultation of the ideal above the real, the desire to remake the world (or at least one's own country) into ——— well, whatever one wishes one's own image was ——— made its reappearance in the 1960s, to be precise in 1968.
Now Come the Hippies
Could Hitler return from hell, he would doubtless approve of much of what he would see ——— not merely the way in which ideas he shared have become dominant, but how in many cases they are simply accepted as truth.
Take contraception, for example. Many Nazis were avid fans of Planned Parenthood, and some wrote fan letters to Margaret Sanger (this is an area future researchers would do well to explore). While so late as 1920, in keeping with Scriptural teaching (Onan in Genesis, to be exact) the Lambeth Conference condemned the practice, a decade later they reversed themselves. Even so, three years after their first decision the prominent English Catholic physician, Dr. Halliday Sutherland, came out with a book, Birth Control, in which he criticized Marie Stopes, the British version of Margaret Sanger. She sued him for libel; but after a decade of decisions and appeals, he won at last. Stopes was heartbroken, but she should have taken heart; that very year the most powerful advocate of contraception Europe had yet seen had come to power.
In the years after the War, the practice picked up steam, at last finding all laws against it in the United States struck down in 1964. That decision, and the invention of the 'pill,' had many repercussions ——— most of which would be predicted four years later by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. So entrenched is birth control today that it is unthinkable that anyone could possibly oppose it, as my hapless eldest nephew, Guy, has just recently discovered. At his Junior College —— Mission College in the beautiful San Fernando Valley —— one of the requirements for the A.A. degree is completion of a 'Health Class.' But in the first week, students were assigned methods of birth control to defend. Given coitus interruptus, Guy demurred.� Having been assured that the class, although necessary for the Associate, is not essential to transfer to a four—year school, he dropped it. But what is interesting is that there would be no more debate on the topic than there would be on the morality of penicillin. Hitler would indeed be pleased.
So too with abortion and, ever—increasingly, euthanasia. What Pope John Paul II calls the 'culture of death' claims ever—new victories. Although there is still resistance to both of these things, there can be little doubt that the most influential folk are either in favor of or prepared to tolerate them. The Netherlands, as always in the forefront of this sort of thing, has pioneered legal 'voluntary' euthanasia. But, as the law is always one step behind actual practice, the involuntary kind now is being administered. The result has been the creation of retirement villages for Dutch seniors in adjacent portions of Germany, where they need not fear being prematurely offed. It is an irony the Fuehrer would relish.
Hitler and the 'She—Wolves'
But it is the way in which some of those groups who most opposed Hitler are being dealt with that brings back memories, for those who know their history. Those Christians who are quite happy to go along with the new order, such as Catholics for a Free Choice and the dominant circles in the leadership of the Episcopal Church, get all sorts of kudos from the secular press. Evangelicals and orthodox Catholics who refuse are ridiculed and, increasingly, made the target of legal action. Certainly, the Nazis would be quite pleased with the replacement of 'Merry Christmas' by 'Happy Holidays,' and the efforts to remove all religious symbols from public life, as sponsored by the ACLU. The substitution of 'B.C.' and 'A.D' with 'B.C.E.' and 'C.E.' would doubtless have pleased Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry: it is exactly the kind of subliminal touch they prized, but were generally not too good at.
We lack nobility in the United States, of course, but in those countries where they have maintained some sort of status, the Generation of '68 are busily chipping away at it: as mentioned, Tony Blair followed Hitler's lead in outlawing hunting to hounds. There can be no doubt about his invoking class hatred to do so. It did seem a logical step after expelling the hereditary element of the House of Lords (he is quite happy, of course to keep the 'appointed' members; hence the sobriquet of 'Tony's Cronies' applied to the remaining Peers).
While this may seem minor to us Americans, the ongoing Gleichschaltung ['coordination' —see Part two] of the Judiciary continues apace. Changes began with the politicization of the Supreme Court's decisions, commencing in the 1950s. While I have no desire to return to segregation (among other things it would deny one of my favorite godsons the kind of education his abilities entitle him to), the fact is that Brown versus the Board of Education was not a decision based upon law, but upon politics and sociology. The 1964 and 1973 decisions striking down State laws banning artificial contraception and abortion were, legally—speaking, ludicrous. During the Borking of Judge Bork, it was proclaimed that 'original intent' of the Founders would have no bearing on the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution. Then, Mr. Justice Thomas was forced to swear that he did not believe in the Natural Law, as the price he had to pay for a seat on the bench. This left open the question of just what basis is used for the Court's rulings.
At last, in the majority opinion striking down laws permitting the execution of under—age murderers, Mr. Justice Kennedy explained it all for us: the Court was striking down the law on the basis of changes in public opinion and the precedents of foreign courts. Needless to say, the latter will only be accepted selectively: many foreign countries still have blasphemy laws protecting religious symbols from insult or desecration, and it would be hard to believe that Mr. Justice Kennedy and his cohorts would resort to them. But the first named reason is worse. Apart from the fact that one would have thought that it was the business of the executive and legislative branches to worry about the opinions of those who elect them, the notion of such changes altering the law remind one only too well of the 'spirit of the volk' creating law above its mere letter. Of course, whoever controls that spirit becomes thereby the real ruler of the nation, regardless of what the population actually thinks.
Blocking the Popular Will
But there are far more obnoxious tricks awaiting us. The Terry Schiavo case is slowly coming to what appears to be a grisly conclusion. Judge George Greer ordered that Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube be removed on March 18, thus ensuring that she spent Holy Week and Easter slowly starving to death. Her husband, who may, some suspect, have had something to do with his wife's coma, is ensuring her demise. Now while this case of murder by judge would surely tax even the abilities of such as Nero Wolfe or Hercule Poirot, it too has deeper implications than being a mere murder mystery. For His Honor has violated no less than four Florida statutes, in addition to abetting Mrs. Schiavo's murder. But no one in the Florida government will uphold the law. Hitler's People's Court had at least the specter of the Fuehrer to force them where at least some of the judges might not want to go. No such excuse exists in this case.
As is well known, Judge Greer acted in the face of a Congressional subpoena — a deliberate act of Contempt of Congress.� Rather than sending the Federal Marshals to whisk Mrs. Schiavo to safety and His Honor to prison, Congress and the President sent the question to Federal court, where it sits at this moment while the victim starves.�� But if Mrs. Schiavo does indeed die at the hands of the judge, with her will die American jurisprudence. No longer need we pretend that elections mean anything, or that the officials so selected will live up to their oaths of office.� What is even more interesting is that Mr. Bush's Justice Department had no reluctance in arresting Judge Moore in Alabama, as punishment for refusing to take down the Ten Commandments from the court house in Montgomery.� Despite all the noises, apparently effacing all trace of our nation's religious heritage is more important to those in charge than saving a woman's life.� Here, too, we hear the echoes of the Reich.
Still ——— will that be a problem for most of us? Probably not. We will still have our television, our internet, our three squares and our snacks. But what does threaten us is the treatment meted out to that much despised—by—the—Fuehrer—yet—essential—to—his—schemes body, the Armed Forces. In case anyone has missed out on the news these past few years, this country is at war, and likely to remain so for some time. Moreover, given our great—power status, other threats are likely to emerge if and when the troops come home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yet our dominant set are not nearly so concerned with the military's effectiveness as they are with its conforming to their social vision. I first became aware of this a decade or more ago when scandals broke out at various army posts. On the one hand, it appeared that certain drill sergeants at these installations were forcing themselves on female recruits; at the same time, pregnancies were occurring to other such young ladies in close proximity to male recruits. At the three service academies, sex scandals may be expected every other year or so, and several warships in the 1991 Gulf War earned the title of 'the Loveboat' from the large number of pregnancies that occurred during the campaign. Presidentially—appointed Blue—Ribbon committees all found that co—ed billeting and training had nothing to do with these various events.
PC Matters More than Winning
But more than gender issues are involved in the ongoing reshaping of the military. There may indeed be shortages of funding and materiel, but both can be found for more important activities. My brother, Andr�, is a senior army officer at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Just the other day, I received this e—mail from him, which deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
You asked me to share (cause I'm all about sharing) some highlights of my Equal Opportunities (EO) training last week. Well it's true. I was asked by my boss to attend an exciting Senior Executive (EO) Seminar. It was an all day affair at my customary O6 pay rate. The Facilitators (and Facilitatrix) were all graduates of the 16 week course at the Defense Equal Opportunities Management Institute (DEOMI) down in Florida. I'd never heard of these guys before but they all seemed so dedicated.
No one was supposed to be in uniform I was told on the phone so there wouldn't be any of that 'rank stuff'. The first facilitator was a Coast Guard NCO who proudly announced he was a 'Sexist'. His Father was a sexist, his Mother was a sexist in fact he came from a sexist family. He happily indicated he had learned a number of techniques to control his (unspecified) sexism. I immediately recognized 'Self Criticism' which we had learned to defend against at Survival Resistance and Escape Training (SERE). This is a technique the enemy uses to destroy our hierarchy to replace it with his own in the context of a POW camp.
It was announced that we were going to play a game. I had heard of this game before as it is used as a part of 'Values Clarification' in government schools for children. The game varies in scenario. It sometimes concerns nuclear war, sometimes a lifeboat etc...In our case we were given a list of 12 people. The list gave you details such as age, sex, race, occupation etc....There was to be a meteor strike earth and wipe out all life. These 12 were to go to a new planet to repopulate.... Ooops, there was only room for 7. Our senior executives at five tables of 5—6 personnel were to kill.... (Oh My) I mean 'choose' five persons to de—select to leave our doomed planet. Well you guessed it the 70 year old Catholic Priest was the first to get offed. A Hispanic at my table had some trouble with that but felt better after he was reminded about the topless dancer. Four of the five tables dumped the Priest.
Anyway as I listened to the discussion I decided to see how far the system would allow for diversity. I announced to the table that based on my religious values I was unable to select people to die based only on their sex, age, race and education. For a moment I got a quick stare then they went back to comparing the 26 year old Hispanic accountant versus the 30 year old white Policeman. I was afraid they didn't understand so I repeated it and added that the directions were we had to come up with a consensus and I wasn't going to go along. Well they all looked at me a bit longer but then went back to selecting the decedents. Finally the Facilitator began going around the room to see who each table had selected to snuff. When they came to our table our 'leader' immediately turned me in to the authorities. They didn't make a fuss but it was interesting to see how quickly we could be divided.
The day went on to a series of classes and games. Another game which I thought quite interesting might have been called the 'Chop down the hierarchy' game. We had a rather strident black Major as our Facilitatrix.� In this game various alleged sexist or racist quotes were read supposedly spoken by various General Officers. As an example one quote was read aloud saying male pilots were superior to female pilots. In a joyous burst the class yelled back 'Hey that was General McPeak' a former CofS of the Air Force. There was one Army Colonel who seemed very supportive of the conduct of this 'training.' Then a quote was read referring to another General Officer speaking at a private prayer breakfast and quoted as saying his God was real and Moslems worshiped a false god. This Colonel in the midst of the merriment realized the game leader was quoting his former commander of whom residual loyalties still were carried. He protested that the quote was unfair and out of context. He tried to defend his old boss as a fine officer. The facilitatrix would hear none of that and in a high pitch corrected his error and pronounced racism pure and simple. The now en—cowed Colonel looked both ways and down as he retreated.
This same facilitatrix who was perhaps the most passionate of them all dropped us another important lesson. She warned us about a Coast Guard O6 (CAPT) who had had a female officer who came down with child out of wedlock. The story which followed was very odd but clear in lesson. According to our guide, this senior officer circulated a questionnaire about this woman's morality. Now I don't understand why he would do that assuming that happened. He should have called a JAG as last time I looked that was 'conduct unbecoming' and a UCMJ offense. In any case the USCG CAPT was relieved. And the lesson was 'Your Values Can Destroy Your Career.'� This was pure John Rawls, the idea of the right over the good. You can have religious values but they must be reasonable. Reasonable defined as consensus based.
The last game of the day was each table was given a theme to put together a brief in regard to US Army EO policies and regulations. Our table was given the word 'Enforcement.' There was a facilitatrix who had not spoken but came up to our table while we were in dialogue preparing our brief. To clarify what answers we were to come up with I asked her if it had been decided that the Army does not enforce EO. She looked at me in an accusative fashion and said 'System, Victim Focus'. In a split second I realized she wasn't calling me a name but was indicating disapproval of my thoughts or line of reasoning. Once again recalling my training from SERE school I laughed heartily in an effort to derail my interrogator's focus. As I laughed I wrote it down and asked her what it meant. She smiled and after some hesitation, said she didn't know. We talked for a little bit trying to figure what she was talking about but had to stop when the head person called for each table to begin reciting our lessons.
Later I plugged System Victim Focus into my Google search engine and the only entry was from a DEOMI lesson plan. In other words it was made up by the school. The words are not used together. Victim focus is bad, it's like...if I drink too much and wreck my car and you blame me. Get it that's bad. System focus is when you blame the Army for breaking my ankle which stressed me out so I had to drink too much....Get it that's good. Anyway as a funny postscript to all this, I ran into the Facilitatrix today. She is an E6 assigned here at USASOC. She was in her BDUs so I came up and told her what I'd done with Google. I told her she couldn't use those words together. She laughed and she said yeah she had found out too, but it was really cool that I'd been so motivated by the class that I researched it. Then I shared with her your idea about 'Situation Focus' i.e. the situation is to blame hence we're all off the hook. She laughed even harder. I realized she knew what I knew.
My impression is that EO is rapidly morphing far beyond the concerns of race and gender issues of 20 years ago. It is rapidly becoming a 'Values Clarification' or 'political training' of the type in the old Soviet Army. As in the old Soviet Army neither the teachers nor the students (other than ideologues) took it particularly seriously. It was required of course and everyone went thru the motions. The old Soviet joke was we pretend to work, they pretend to pay us. Minds are not changed per se. That is because the purpose of political classes and commissars for that matter is not to change but to dominate minds. Tyranny is not interested in making you believe but rather in making you comply. This is the big lie concept. If I can get you to publicly admit that the sky is red, it has a greater effect on you and others. This kind of thing destroys cohesion, the key building bloc of an effective Army. Tyranny is more interested in compliance than effectiveness. Such Armies don't function right but tyranny doesn't care. This is true in the military, economics or politics. Neither the Communists or the Nazis trusted their Army. Both valued control of the party over victory on the battlefield. Getting someone to get up and accuse their parents of sexism is the human version of the dog lying on his back with his paws up. It's a subservient demonstration.
One last thing. For those who have been out of the Army for awhile, you can stop blaming Clinton. This is Mr. Bush's Army. I have served in both and there has been absolutely no change in course.
Of course, Andr�'s experience might be dismissed as unique ——— but it is not. And it demonstrates graphically the worst way in which Nazi ideas have lived on. Of course, it may be that those who set the agenda really don't like their country at all, the way it is. Perhaps, like Hitler, they believe that if the country is not good enough for them, it deserves to lose.
Who can tell? But one thing is clear: for all who fear the return of the Swastika, I can only speak of the Nazis as Stephen Sondheim did of circus performers in his own admonition to 'Send in the Clowns' ——— 'Don't bother, they're here.'
Charles A. Coulombe's most recent books are 'Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink that Conquered the World' and 'Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes.'� He is currently working on a biography of four—time Olympic—gold—medal winner Pat McCormick.�In 2004, Mr. Coulombe was named a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Sylvester by Pope John Paul II.�