A column in the country’s most prestigious newspaper has a picture of Joseph Goebbels on top:
Obviously, this blog does not oppose somewhat hyperbolic use of such photos, if done to criticize arbitrary and racist actions by state officials. In this case, however, the subject of the column was quite different:
The political mind-set that turned human beings into categories, classes and races also turned them into rodents, insects and garbage. “Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing,” Heinrich Himmler would claim in 1943. “Getting rid of lice is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness.” Watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn that year, a Polish anti-Semite was overheard saying: “The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.”
Today, the rhetoric of infestation is back. In the U.S., Trump uses it to describe Latin American migrants. In Europe, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, warned in 2015 that migrants carried “all sorts of parasites and protozoa,” which, “while not dangerous in the organisms of these people, could be dangerous here.”
More of this talk will surely follow, and not just from the right. The American left has become especially promiscuous when it comes to speaking pejoratively about entire categories of disfavored people.
So, to summarize, the Nazis are being invoked not to criticize, say, the Trump administration preparing to deport people receiving life-saving medical treatment, but as an analogy for a white guy with a high-status barely-work job (at a time when real journalists are losing their jobs left and right) being mildly criticized on Twitter. Did I mention that this the columnist who thinks that somewhat mean tweets about him are like the Holocaust sent emails to at least two administrators trying to get the guy fired and has written an endless series of columns about how the kids today with their safe spaces and trigger warnings need to learn how to be made uncomfortable and put up with speech they don’t like?
Oh, and I should also mention in this remarkably self-owning column Stephens also showed off his legendary research chops:
If you’re going to use a google books link, it’s generally a good idea to remember to clear the search.
(And maybe be a little wary if your only hit is an repurposed dissertation no one has bothered to review and that only equivocally supports your hypothesis.) pic.twitter.com/QC4hJ0KJfo— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 30, 2019
I mean, I don’t think he’s ever been expected to do research for a column before so you have to expect him to be a bit rusty.
None of this would be happening if James Bennet was still alive.
…Nobdy in comments:
It is shocking to me that Stephens is still a Never Trumper because he shares one of Trump’s primary characteristics; an almost comically thin skin.
Seriously, how is an adult man who apparently goes out and functions in the world, in New York City of all places, this much of a fucking baby? This is some serious princess and the pea type shit, only instead of a delicate princess it’s a beardy middle aged dude who spends all day telling others that they’re oversensitive.
Another characteristic that Stephens shares with Trump is that he’s a caricature too broad for fiction. If you wrote about a newspaper columnist who is constantly telling other people that they’re overly sensitive but himself is so sensitive that he seeks out tweets nobody has read, tries to get the tweeter fired, flounces from Twitter when he is called out, and then writes a bitter column with a Nazi picture on it…that character would not be believable. But he’s real. He’s real and he’s pathetic and he’s Bret Stephens.
Third characteristic Stephens shares with Trump: Strategic moron. This is not going to vindicate him. It’s going to draw more attention (witness this post) and make this incident even more prominent.