Sunday, March 19, 2017

tRump's Contiunuing Nazi/Fascist Problem

Nazi/Fascists are like cockroaches: they stick around and around and around.

Image by chuckharding53 from Flickr, not used with permission

Well, tRump is either finding that out...or perhaps knew it all along.  As the tRump campaign machinery geared up in 2015, Business Insider reported that in a 1990 interview, Ivana Trump reported that her ex-husband kept a book of Hitler's speeches next to his bed, ostensibly to learn oratory.

Image by frankieleon from Flickr, CC BY
 Then there was tRump's association with and hiring of Steve Bannon, his reluctance to denounce David Duke and the the KKK, and his standing with Neo-Nazis.  All this could be dismissed as posturing and politicking, of course...though that argument rings hollower and hollower with time.  And then there's the bruhaha over Sebastian L. v. Gorka.

Image from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA
Newsweek called Gorka a "second-tier White House foreign policy advisor" who has managed to make a name for himself and get more "facetime" in the media than others in his position in the past.  Gorka is a former employee of Bannon's at Breitbart, a notoriously right-wing so-called news source.  In right-wing circles, Gorka has achieved a reputation as an expert on Middle-Eastern terrorism, despite the fact that he does not speak Arabic and has not studied in the Middle-East, as reported by  Daniel Nexon in a column on the Foreign Policy website.   Nexon, an associate professor in the Department of Governement and  Foreign Service at Georgetown University, offered a critique of Gorka's academic credentials, noting that he is not very well-known in academic circles on terrorism, having only one peer-reviewed article to his credit and his PhD dissertation advisor at Corvinus University in Hungary has expertise in neither national security nor terrorism.

Recently, however, Gorka has been called into the spotlight for something a bit more sinister.  A Jewish publication out of New York, Forward, recently reported that Gorka is associated with Vitezi Rend, a group that collaborated with the Nazis during WWII.  Several pictures have been posted of Gorka wearing a medal from the group.

Gorka at an inauguration ball, with the medal pinned to his traditional Hungarian jacket; image from US Uncut

 A still from an episode of Fox News's Sean Hanity show; image from the Times of Israel
According to a short history on Vitezi Rend, the organization is a nationalist entity formed in 1920 after Hungary fought a series of post-WWI conflicts with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania, as well as fending off a communist revolution--incidentally, the website claims that this revolution "introduced Hungary to the phenomenon of class warfare," a rather audacious claim for a former imperial seat.  Furthermore, the history claims that France and Great Britain backed the Czechs, Yugoslavians, and Romanians, a claim that echoes Nazi sentiments for whipping up their supporters during WWII.  Vitezi Rend can be translated as Order of Knights/Heroes/the Valiant and members were distinguished veterans who were given land claims and inheritable titles signified by appending a "v" before their last names...such as v. Gorka.  When the Soviet Union occupied Hungary after the Second World War, the organization was declared Fascist and outlawed.

The Newsweek article noted the US Memorial Holocaust Museum's claimed that during the war, Vitezi Rend members under the direction of the nationalist, Miklos Horthy, functioned much like the infamous Nazi Einsatzgruppen, paramilitary groups that murdered Jews throughout Eastern Europe and rounded up Jews for deportation to the concentration camps.
Hitler’s chief deportations expert, S.S. Lt. Colonel Adolf Eichmann, "was surprised at how actively and enthusiastically Hungarian authorities collaborated to achieve what was clearly a common purpose...initiating many anti-Jewish measures on their own.”
Nexon noted several strains in Gorka's dissertation that should raise concern.  Gorka claimed that the modern state is not equipped to deal with the threat posed by al Qaeda (it is not a big stretch to insert ISIS at this point) and that
...the ideal solution would involve a tightly integrated supranational security apparatus, but since "we are unable for various reasons (foremostly political) to create supranational solutions," the only viable alternative is for states to develop a "unified multi-agency approach" [that] involves getting rid of the "internal barriers between the police force, the army and various intelligence services," although Gorka implies that constitutional barriers might pose a problem.
Considering the almost seamless integration between the SS and the Gestapo in Nazi Germany, Gorka's claim is chilling.  He essentially called for a totalitarian state that makes war not only on "external enemies," but also its own population.

A 1941 Nazi propaganda poster that translates as, "Day of the German Police"; image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain
In his defense, Gorka said he wears the medal as a tribute to his father, but the group (as reported in the Forward article) claims that the son is also a life-long member.  Gorka himself told Tablet Magazine that he is not a sworn member of Vitezi Rend.  However, Larry Cohler-Esses, the writer of the Forward piece told Amy Goodwin on Democracy Now! that he was told by three sources in Vitezi Rend that Gorka had been inducted into the organization:
Well, the Vit├ęzi Rend has some pretty firm rules. You do not get to wear the medal and use the "v" initial unless you join. And joining involves taking a lifelong oath, a oath of fealty to the organization and its principles and to Hungarian nationalism, which the organization is steeped in. We spoke with a senior member of the group, who took note of the "v" that he used both on his doctoral dissertation in Hungary and when he testified before Congress. And he said, "Of course. No 'v' without the oath." So, under these terms of the organization, if he was trying to honor his father, he was dishonoring the rules of the organization that his father was honored by. And I cannot read his mind. I was not in Hungary. But we then found three separate sources in the organization who said he did take the oath, he was initiated in the formal initiation ceremony into the organization.
Goodman noted that David Duke tried to defend Gorka, tweeting "How is Sebastian Gorka a 'Nazi'? The man is not only pro-[Israel], he is also pro-Jewish. Strange time to be alive–(((they’ve))) truly lost it."  Too bad for Duke that his protestation that Gorka is not antisemitic because he is pro-Israel ignores the fact that the concept of "Semite" includes Arabs as well as Jews (see the entry for Semites in the Encyclopedia Judaica).

I wonder whether Gorka also has a copy of Hitler speeches on his night stand.  I'll bet he either has a copy in his library or a bookmark on Chrome.

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