Tag Archives: Nazi

Prussian Blue Sings a New Tune

By Steven Philp

It has been five quiet years since Lamb and Lynx Gaede stepped out of the national spotlight—ending a short and controversial career as the neo-Nazi pop duo Prussian Blue—yet this month they came out of their self-imposed solitude to give an interview with The Daily, singing a different tune. “I’m not a white nationalist anymore,” Lamb explained. “My sister and I are pretty liberal now.” Lynx confirmed their change of heart. “Personally, I love diversity,” she added.

Delivered with such earnestness, it is difficult to believe that these opinions come from the same young women who had spent several years singing at small venues in North America and Europe, spreading messages of white supremacy and Nazi ideology. Prussian Blue was formed under the guidance of their mother April Gaede after the twins were well received at white nationalist events between 2001 and 2003. In 2004 the duo recorded and released their first album Fragment of the Future under Resistance Records, a label closely tied to the National Alliance; this white supremacist organization was founded in 1974 by William Pierce, an outspoken Nazi-sympathizer and—among other forms of bigotry—anti-Semite. Although not widely distributed, Fragment of the Future brought national media attention to the twins for its white nationalist content—including the song “Hate for Hate: Lamb Near the Lane,” penned by Lamb and David Eden Lane. Lane—who passed away in 2007—was a member of The Order, a terrorist organization that precipitated the murder of Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in June 1984.

When interviewed by ABC Primetime in October 2005, the twins eagerly parroted the ideology of their mentors. “We’re proud of being white, we want to keep being white,” explained the thirteen-year-old Lynx. “We want our people to stay white…we don’t want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race.” In the same interview their mother April admitted to adding white nationalist themes to the twins’ home education curriculum. “They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening,” she explained. It was the need to make white nationalism more appealing to a younger audience that drove Eric Gliebe, operator of Resistance Records, to sponsor the twins. Their saccharine melodies provided a pop alternative to the harder genres of his other acts, and allowed his label to access a new market. “Eleven and 12 years old,” he explained of his decision. “I think that’s the perfect age to start grooming kids and instill in them a strong racial identity.” And it was this combination of innocence and hate that made the twins a gross fascination for such a large number of people. Even the name of the band embodies this uncomfortable juxtaposition. According to a 2004 interview with Vice Magazine, Prussian Blue refers both to their German heritage, the color of their eyes—a “really pretty color”—and Zyklon B, the preferred toxin used in WWII concentration camps. Blue discoloration is caused by Zyklon B residue; according to the twins, the lack of substantial “Prussian blue” patches in the remains of Nazi gas chambers “might make people question some of the inaccuracies of the ‘Holocaust’ myth.”

Now 19 years old, the twins claim they have moved away from their white nationalist roots. Lynx attributes their prior ideology to a sheltered childhood, specifically their home-based education. “We were these country bumpkins,” she explained. “We spent most of our days up on the hill playing with our goats.” Lamb concurred with her sister, explaining that in their songs and interviews they emulated the adults around them rather than expressed their own opinions. “I was just spouting a lot of knowledge that I had no idea what I was saying,” she said. The initial change occurred during their 2006 European tour with the Swedish white supremacist act Saga, when the twins decided to add the song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” to their set; the audience reacted negatively, given that Bob Dylan—born Robert Zimmerman—is Jewish. Still Lynx and Lamb persisted, singing the song at all subsequent concerts. When they returned to the States, they decided that the gig was up. The girls have passed the last five years attempting to lay low and avoid further controversy; recurrent health issues—Lynx underwent treatment for cancer and Lamb suffers from chronic back pain and scoliosis—also prompted them to seek a semblance of normalcy in their lives. Once lauded as the new face of white nationalism, their change in heart has garnered a fair share of criticism within the movement. According to Lynx, they have been labeled as “race traitors.”

Yet despite the evolution of opinion that the twins have demonstrated, it is still possible to identify elements of their white nationalist education within their worldview. The Daily points to their continued denial of the Holocaust; when asked if genocide has occurred, Lynx responded, “I think certain things happened. I think a lot of the stories got misconstrued. I mean—yeah—Hitler wasn’t the best, but Stalin wasn’t, Churchill wasn’t. I disagree with everybody at that time.” Lamb agreed with her sister, expressing frustration with what she perceives as a societal obsession with the events of WWII. “I just think everyone needs to frickin’ get over it,” she argued. “That’s what I think.”

No Take Backs

By Steven Philp

There are times when “reclaiming”—politically redefining a word or symbol—goes a little too far. On Sunday, July 3 members of a small, but growing, religious sect called the International Raelian Movement (IRM) set up shop at Pride Toronto 2011 to raise awareness about their organization, featuring a rather curious juxtaposition in their official logo: a star of David intertwined with a swastika. This is not the first time that their chosen symbol has caused controversy; as detailed in an article from Trinity College, over its 35-year history the IRM has faced criticism from both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations for resurrecting the swastika. After a brief hiatus from incorporating the swastika in to their symbolism—supposedly out of concern for its negative association with the National Socialist German Worker’s (Nazi) Party—in 2007 the leader of IRM announced that they would permanently revive the original logo. Over the past four years IRM has engaged in a campaign to “take it back.” According to an article posted by the Toronto Sun, when IRM was denied a position in the Pride Toronto parade—which serves as a celebration of the Canadian LGBTQ community—it set up a booth near the festivities, to “remove the negativity attached to [the swastika].”

“For religions like Jainism and Buddhism, the swastika represented luck, well-being, harmony and peace,” explained Diane Brisebois, a spokesperson for IRM, to the Toronto Sun. “When people think of the swastika, they immediately think of the Nazis and we want to change that.” Although she was disappointed that the organization was not allowed to participate in the parade—understandable, considering the Nazi position toward the LGBTQ community—she mentioned plans for a rival parade next year that would reclaim the swastika. According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, spokesperson Brigitte Boisselier claimed that its historical origin in “many peaceful religious groups, especially in Asia” gives historical reason to reclaim the symbol. Indeed the swastika is still used among practitioners of several Eastern faith traditions, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Its earliest archaeological records date it to 2500 B.C.E. in the Indus Valley, before it spread across South and East Asia. Using the symbol may be tone-deaf in the West, but an argument can be made that in some places it is regarded as an auspicious symbol.

Yet why the Star of David? Apparently the IRM is not only fond of borrowing symbols from the Jewish tradition, but several words as well. The organization—whose non-theist faith Raelism has been compared to Scientology—was founded in 1974 after French-born Claude Vorilhon (now called Rael) encountered a being named Yahweh while walking in the woods. Through conversations with Yahweh, Vorilhon learned that human beings are the end result of scientific experiments conducted by extraterrestrial beings called Elohim. Small in stature, individuals from this species have been mistaken for angels, cherubim or divine spirits by human eyes. Over time the Elohim have contacted select human beings to carry their messages; these include people like Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and other faith leaders. This, he claims, has created a succession of religions, starting with older traditions like Judaism. Vorilhon was given their final message through Yahweh, to pacify the earth so that we may be welcomed in to the fold of the Elohim. This includes establishing a global government, formed around a meritocracy of intellect and the tenets of voluntarism; this is to say, the intelligent rule, while adherents conduct themselves as they see fit.

Over the years, the IRM endorsed attention-getting practices such as human cloning, their liberal consideration of sexuality, and—of course—their logo. Yet concerning the latter, the group says intertwining two opposing symbols was not done to step on toes, but rather speak to their core beliefs. As Boisselier explained, by combining juxtaposed elements the logo speaks to “the infinity of time.” Their claim to borrowing from preceding traditions to build the “ultimate faith,” seems circumspect, considering they do not incorporate iconography from any other religious group.

Their attempt to “take back” the swastika does raise interesting questions concerning what cultural signifiers—visual or verbal—can be reclaimed, and by whom. Instances of minority groups reappropriating symbols used by the Nazi Party are few and far between. Perhaps the only prominent example of such a shift is the use of the pink triangle by the LGBTQ community, now a prominent symbol at pride parades, on gay-friendly businesses, or LGBTQ monuments. The pink triangle, or rosa winkel, marked prisoners detained for suspected or confirmed homosexuality; it was part of a larger system of triangular badges used to identify concentration camp victims, of which the Star of David (two interposed yellow triangles) was part.  Yet in the case of the pink triangle, it was the minority community in question that “reclaimed” the symbol. The fact that the swastika has maintained its negative symbolism through modern Neo-Nazi organizations makes it especially inappropriate for an organization with no connection to reclaim it. Although we can acknowledge the positive sentiment behind the desire to redefine the swastika for Western audiences, it seems that—for some symbols—there are no take backs.

Holy Foreskin, Batman!

By Adina Rosenthal

There is a new superhero on the block. In true Superman fashion, he spends his days as regular citizen Miles Hastwick, but when trouble is afoot, he transforms into a superhero ready to rescue the public from a pernicious danger that has afflicted society for thousands of years and must be stopped: circumcision. Yes, folks, he’s Foreskin Man. “Aided by his advanced plasma boots,” as his trading card states, Foreskin Man flies above San Diego “to hunt down criminals who cut the genitals of innocent boys.” Along with the trading cards, you can purchase two issues of Foreskin Man, where he protects the foreskins of baby boys from the likes of Dr. Mutilator and Monster Mohel. T-Shirts are also available for both adults and children, so you too can wear the symbol of Foreskin Man, which is similar to a phallic version of The Green Lantern’s logo.

The comic series creator, Matthew Hess, is president of MGMBill, a national organization promoting legislation to criminalize circumcision of boys under 18, such as the controversial anti-circumcision initiative that will appear on the San Francisco ballot this November. Proponents of the bill assert that this is a human rights issue, referring to circumcision as unnecessary mutilation. Those opposed argue that circumcision is not harmful and call the measure unconstitutional, interfering with their First Amendment rights. The law would slap a fine of $1000 or a year in jail to anyone who performs the ritual on boys under 18.  While Jews and Muslims are well-known for circumcising their sons, most families who choose circumcision in the United States do so apart from religious reasons. Though a recent study shows that fewer Americans are circumcising their baby boys than in the past, as of 2010, 80 percent of the American male population is circumcised, and Jews make up no more than 3 percent of the population.

Foreskin Man was created as part of the campaign to ban circumcision through legislation, and has taken the rhetoric to a whole new level and seems to have singled out Jews as the major culprits. Many are calling the comic series overtly anti-Semitic. While the first issue of Foreskin Man raises eyebrows about what the blond-haired, blue-eyed hero meant when he said the pro-circumcision lobby has “all the well connected doctors and lawyers,” the second issue, with its hooked nose, tallis-adorned villain, Monster Mohel, and his henchman, sporting peyos, black hats, and kippot, leave less to the imagination.

In a press release, Nancy J. Appel, the Anti-Defamation League’s Associate Regional Director, blasted the comic for going too far. Appel vilified Foreskin Man for portraying mohels as “rapacious, bloodthirsty, and bent on harming children” and noted similarities with the blood libel, the accusation that Jews ritually murder Christian children for their blood (which apparently gives matzah its flavor).  Appel also makes the final point that “No matter what one’s personal opinions of male circumcision, it is irresponsible to use stereotypical caricatures of religious Jews to promote the anti-circumcision agenda.”
This charge of anti-Semitism led Jena Troutman of Santa Monica to drop an anti-circumcision proposal for her city. She claims that the initiative has nothing to do with religion, but about “protecting babies from their parents not knowing that circumcision was started in America to end masturbation…You shouldn’t go around cutting up your little babies. Why don’t people [insert expletive here] get that?”

Obviously, the anti-Semitic label is a loaded, hot potato, not to be taken lightly. But is Foreskin Man hate speech, free speech at its ugliest, or simply a humorous social commentary? Where do we draw the line?

When asked if Foreskin Man is anti-Semitic, creator Matthew Hess responded, “A lot of people have said that, but we’re not trying to be anti-Semitic. We’re trying to be pro-human rights.” But some historical comparisons may show that Foreskin Man’s kryptonite is similarities with anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Nazi Germany used comics as propaganda to paint Jews as dishonest, money-grubbing untermenschen (subhumans). For example, the 1940 Nazi film, Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) likened Jews to dirty rats that spread disease throughout the world.  Law enforcement like police and SS-units were required to watch the film in order to desensitize them to the maltreatment of Jews in concentration and extermination camps. The Jews depicted in this movie, as well as other examples of Nazi propaganda against the Jews, looks eerily similar to Monster Mohel.

At the end of the day, Foreskin Man is a strong, Aryan-looking hero who rescues the innocent baby boy from the clutches of the dark, sinister Jew, whose diabolical aim is to “carry out the holy covenant” through circumcision. This comic highlights the classic good versus evil trajectory, leaving little question as to which role the Jew plays.

It’s just not kosher.

Lars von Trier Acts Up…Again

By Symi Rom-Rymer

This past week at the Cannes International Film Festival, Danish film director and provocateur Lars von Trier announced in a press conference for his most recent film, Melancolia, that he understood Hitler and that Israel was a “pain in the ass.”  These comments and several others, made in response to a question by a journalist about his self-described ‘Nazi aesthetic,’ predictably caused an instantaneous uproar at the festival.  Cannes organizers responded by banning von Trier from the festival. Jason Solomons, chairman of the Film Critics’ Circle in London told Reuters that he believes the political furor in the wake of von Trier’s remarks will prevent the festival from considering his current entry for the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top award.

The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Their Descendants (AGJHSTD), an umbrella organization of survivors groups, immediately issued a statement applauding the festival’s decision.  “This is a welcome action which declares to the world that the suffering of victims is not a fit subject for mockery or casual self-promotion.…The organizers of the Cannes Film Festival have eloquently taken a determined moral stand against cavalier expressions of hate and insensitivity to those brutalized by the Nazis—Jew and non-Jew.”

Von Trier seems to enjoy courting controversy.  In 2005, he said that “President Bush dreams of being spanked by Condeleezza Rice.” Indeed, just before he launched into his Hitler-themed ramblings at Cannes, he mentioned that he was planning to make a four hour porn film starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the female leads from Melancolia, with lots of “uncomfortable sex.”  Danish photographer Martin Hoien, who was covering von Trier for a Danish newsmagazine, told The New York Times that among Danes, the filmmaker has a reputation as a provocateur. He observed that “It’s not a surprise that he said what he said. Mr. von Trier is uncomfortable doing press [conferences] and seems to act out because of it.”

It is tempting to jump on the anti-von Trier bandwagon and add to the expressions of outrage.  After all, he is an adult and must therefore have some understanding of (and take responsibility for) the impact that his words would have on his audience.  But examining the situation more closely, it really isn’t worth all the indignation. The AGJHSTD said that the Holocaust is not “fit for mockery” and they are right.  But von Trier was not mocking the Holocaust.  He did not denigrate its victims or their suffering.  His use of politically loaded words: ‘Nazi’ and ‘Hitler’ was dumb, but using outrageous language is not equivalent to mocking others pain.  His remarks that he ‘understood’ and even ‘sympathized with Hitler’ have been blown out of proportion. Articles about the incident have led with sensationalist headlines, “’I’m A Nazi…I Understand Hitler” or “Lars Von Trier Declares Himself A Nazi, Hitler Sympathizer.”  Out of context, his comments are, indeed, deeply troubling.  One might even assume, based on headlines alone, that von Trier is a closet neo-Nazi.  Taken within the larger context of his body of work, however, his remarks have a different meaning.  Von Trier has made a career out of making films with dark plots and destructive protagonists, such as Antichrist and Dogville. That he might  be fascinated with a dark and disturbed historical figure such as Hitler would not be surprising given the themes that he repeatedly returns to in his films.

Over the past week, there has been a great deal of space online and in print devoted to this latest Cannes controversy.  Much of the reaction from the press or from Jewish groups, however, is little more than political theater.  If von Trier wants to call himself ‘a Nazi’ or say that he understands Hitler to attract attention to his film, then let him.  He is not using his media pulpit to call for another Holocaust or express solidarity with today’s neo-Nazis or truly saying anything that could harm anyone other than himself and the actors—by dint of association—who acted in his film.  Until he does, we might all save some valuable energy and react as the Danish photographer Hoien did when he heard von Trier’s comments: roll our eyes and walk away.

The Limits of Political Protest

By Doni Kandel

In 21st century American culture, political correctness has become a mainstay of the national discourse.  While the idea of political correctness is honorable, the practical implications of its virtue are tainted by political interests and subjectivity.   While the battle over what is considered politically correct continues to be waged, one specific usage of terminology should be established as strictly taboo. This is the blatant and unconscionable usage of Nazi and Hitler comparisons. While this phenomenon is prevalent in many societies, Israel included, there has been a dramatic and troubling rise in its usage in the modern American political dialogue.

While the 1st amendment protects the free speech of all people, and taking issue with what every single citizen says in the privacy of their own homes is futile, the alarming rise in Nazi and Hitler desensitization on a national political level should not be tolerated and must be combated.

The constant linking of political parties, movements, and policies to Nazi practices is an insult to every soul tortured and slaughtered in the camps. There is no comparison to the heinous actions of the Hitler regime, yet it is shamelessly used to get a rise out of people whenever the political climate darkens. It is egregious for anyone to compare President Obama’s healthcare bill to Nazi policy in a political forum, as it was by a woman who attended a townhall meeting with Barney Frank, who discredited the rhetoric with aplomb). This woman, and others like her, must be reminded that her unfortunate word choice may hold water at a Klan meeting, but certainly not a townhall meeting. Similarly, while one may vehemently oppose the policies of a particular Israeli government, in no rational reality does Zionism equal Nazism. This is exactly the type of unsubstantial delegitimization Israel’s enemies have attempted to achieve in the international community, with worrisome results.

More disconcerting than a pedestrian Obama objector or a pro-Palestinian protestor playing the Nazi match game is the utilization of this tactic by American academia. Noam Chomsky, lauded hero of the American Left and a Jew himself, dared to compare the right-wing media in America to Nazi Germany. Chomsky has a responsibility as a public figure whose opinions shape countless others, to be far more judicious with his words. Using such appalling rhetoric to emphasize a point is wrong no matter how passionately he may believe in his argument. He effectively transforms himself from well respected intellectual to a radical nut who seeks to equate Nazism with any person or group they might disagree with.

Avid internet forum debaters may be familiar with the term Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law is an internet decree that states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1,” and when this occurs, “the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically ‘lost’ whatever debate was in progress.” The American political lexicon needs to adopt Godwin’s Law. It must be regularly recognized that the use of Hitler and Nazi terms in relation to anything else is an inexcusable method of debate. While there is a social stigma in regard to the usage of Nazi lingo, it needs to be acted upon. A ban on this type of language, while effective (as Germany itself has demonstrated), would violate the Constitution.  However, the most effective way to stand up to a politician or pundit is with a checkbook and at the polls. Public figures who irresponsibly engage in Nazi and Hitler comparisons, or even abstain from denouncing them, must be shown that their constituency will not stand for it. Letter must be written, funds must be withheld, and votes must be cast elsewhere.

My Grandmother, an Auschwitz survivor, had made a habit of going to sleep with the radio on full blast, always listening with one ear for the news of an approaching tragedy. Sleeping just one floor above her, I was blessed to instead fall asleep to the sounds of a sitcom on my television and a smile of ignorance on my face. In today’s world we are lucky enough to not have to know anything close to the misery our ancestors suffered at the hands of the Third Reich. The difference between my grandmother’s bed-time habits and my own illustrate the absurdity of comparing today’s political situations to the Holocaust.

Former Nazi guard Demjanjuk to stay in United States

By Marista LaneJohn Demjanjuk

Judges at a circuit court of appeals in Ohio granted suspected Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk a stay of removal late Tuesday night after his attorneys claimed that removing him from the United States would be harmful to his health.

CNN says Demjanjuk, who suffers from pre-leukemia, kidney problems, spinal problems and “a couple of types of gout,” according to his attorney, was going to be deported after the German government issued an arrest warrant on March 10 for “being an accessory to 29,000 counts of murder as a guard at Sobibor from March to September 1943.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is quoted as saying that “[Demjanjuk] wants to plead the sense of fairness that he regularly denied all of the victims at Sobibor.” Hier says the justifications for the stay of removal are “preposterous coming from a person that served the S.S. in a death camp. It is a preposterous argument and insulting to the survivors of the Holocaust.”

The United States government filed charges against Demjanjuk in 1999 for his alleged history as a concentration camp guard, and stripped him of his U.S. citizenship. Although the U.S. has been awaiting his deportation since 2005, Demjanjuk has successfully delayed the process via a series of appeals.