I’m a bit of a fan of historic fiction and alternative history. I’ve dabbled in the former, and I recently discovered Robert Conroy’s “1942” and “1945.” (The former deals with the Japanese carrying out the fourth wave of attacks on Pearl Harbor; the latter with Japan refusing to surrender after Nagasaki. And they are both superb.) It’s a fascinating genre, and never fails to stir controversy and heated debate about the plausibility and presentation.
But there are people who should simply avoid working in the genre. Some for lack of suitable credentails and ability, and others for the sheer mass of baggage they bring to the topic.
In that latter category falls Pat Buchanan.
Last week, Buchanan wrote yet another quasi-apologia for Nazi Germany. This time, he laid out his evidence arguing that Hitler didn’t really want war with England, and it is the British who should be held responsible for the millions of deaths in World War II.
It’s an interesting theory, but it falls apart on several grounds.
First up, Buchanan is hardly a disinterested scholar. He’s made his opinions clear about the Germans of the era, the British of the era, and other interested parties. I suspect his fierce Irish heritage leaves him a bit of an Anglophobe, eager to find fault with the British at any opportunity.
He also has a remarkable history as an advocate for accused criminals — as long as those people are accused of being Nazi war criminals.
And there is a third prejudice of his that ties in with the second flaw: his arguments overlook some very key historical points.
As Buchanan notes, the invasion of Poland and the official beginning of the European part of World War II took place in the first week in September, 1939. And the Nazi death camps and the full-blown Holocaust didn’t get really get rolling until after that date.
However, the groundwork for the Holocaust started years before. The path was already set, with a steady, escalating persecution of Germany’s Jews and other “undesirables” had been building for years. The death camps were not some sudden innovation, but the logical culmination of a long, long series of steps.
Does Buchanan think that, had Hitler been appeased with Danzig/Gdansk, he would have relented and gone easy on the Jews?
Of course not. Buchanan doesn’t think about them at all.
This is not to say that Buchanan is an anti-Semite. No, Buchanan has found a way to apply an abstract geometric concept to poltics: the asymptote. Buchanan’s words and actions get closer and closer and closer to open anti-Semitism, but never QUITE touch it.
That gives Buchanan his plausible deniability. He knows that his supporters can say “he isn’t really anti-Semitic,” but can wink and nudge each other and say “you know what he’s really saying here, right?”
Earlier, I brought up Buchanan’s Irish heritage. The other defining element of his ethnicity is his Catholicism. He’s a fierce Catholic. Perhaps another element of his history of Nazi apologia is how the Catholic Church acted during World War II — turning a blind eye to the Holocaust and other atrocities, then after the war helping wanted Nazi war criminals escape justice.
Pat, your’e turning 71 in a few months. You’ve had your God-promised “three score and ten.” Time for you to just shut up, go home, and pray for a peaceful death.