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Thursday, October 26, 2023

Nazis without antisemitism?

In the Star Trek episode Patterns of Force (included in most lists of top-1o Original Recipe episodes), Kirk and Spock encounter a planet with a government modeled on Nazi Germany. A human history professor (maybe supposed to be Kirk's mentor) established the system because Nazi Germany was the most efficient state in history and he believed that such a state, benignly run, could succeed. The episode makes the generic "absolute power corrupts absolutely" point, but not much more. Kirk and Spock stopped spinning the dreidel and dressed in Nazi uniforms, although the word "Jew" does not appear in the episode (Original Star Trek is a generally secular-and-irreligious world).

The premise of the show is ridiculous in all respects. Nazi Germany was a kleptocracy. More importantly, Nazism cannot be benign--its "race-and-space" idea demands an other to conquer. Still more importantly, for Nazism (as opposed, perhaps, to general fascism) the other must be Jewish. Judaism was the regime's central obsession. The Nazis killed or imprisoned other groups, but not in the same numbers and not with the same focus. For example, some LGBTQ people might escape death by agreeing to fight or to marry and bear children for the Fatherland--certainly human rights violations denying their personhood and humanity. Jews did not enjoy that option.

I thought of this as Ron DeSantis attempts to curry favor with Jews by ignoring the First Amendment to stop pro-Hamas speech and groups. The same Ron DeSantis refused to condemn the neo-Nazis marching in full Nazi regalia (so, again, not general fascists--Nazis) in front of Disney World and other places in and around Orlando. How do we square that? Many of these Nazis (particularly the groups outside Disney; other groups did target area synagogues) do not hate Jews--or at least do not make Judenhass their central tenant. Their central obsession is LGBTQ+ people and the "groomers" at Disney; since DeSantis hates the same group of people, he was not inclined to condemn them. And since he does not associate this group with antisemitism or antisemitic speech, he does not lose credit with the Jewish community for failing to do so when he targets different antisemitic speech from a different group.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 26, 2023 at 08:46 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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