As Jonah Goldberg observed in his book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, we conservatives are often subject to the epithets, “Nazi” or “fascist,” merely for expressing our political point of view. Rarely do the labels even come close to representing our ideology or opinions, indeed are usually at odds with our commitment to freedom and opposition to government programs, serving primarily as a mean for those who so label us to dismiss our ideas.
Well, earlier this week, I read a column by a man who calls himself a conservative, while the ideas he expresses there makes one wonder if Pat Buchanan is, as some have described him, a Nazi sympathizer. Buchanan has long since abandoned the principles which have defined American conservatism (if he ever supported them).
As I’ve noted before, he showed so little regard for the leader of American conservatism, Ronald Reagan, that he chose to speak for far longer than the time allotted him at the 1992 Republican National Convention, bumping the Gipper’s subsequent speech out of prime time.
No one who would show such disrespect for the Gipper should consider himself a conservative. And no paper which seeks to promote serious conservatism would print (or offer pixels to) his columns.
This ex-conservative now claims that President Bush “made a hash of history” when he referenced the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 as an example of the danger of appeasement.
Actually, it’s Buchanan who’s making a hash of history, as he’s pretty much made a hash of every serious idea he’s tried to consider for the past sixteen years or so. He contends that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s September 1938 Munich “deal with Hitler averted a European war — at the expense of the Czech nation.” Well, at least he acknowledges the abandonment of the Czechs.
“German tanks,” Buchanan observes “did not roll into Poland until a year later, Sept. 1, 1939.” And why? Oh, not because they thought the West was weak, having offered up Czechoslovakia to the Nazis, but because Poland “refused to negotiate over Danzig,” then an ethnically German city under Polish sovereignty (but officially a “free city” administered by the League of Nations).
“Hitler,” Buchanan claims, “had not wanted war with Poland.” He did try to negotiate. But, the meanies in the Polish government forced his hand because they were intransigent. The Nazis, you see, just had to invade. They were forced into it because how else could the Nazis include this German-speaking territory in their pan-Germanic Reich?
Does he really believe that Hitler would not have sought to dominate Europe had Poland sat down to negotiate the status of Danzig?
Buchanan takes it as a given the the Nazi idea of uniting all German territories under one regime is a good thing. That he was only driven to evil because the West prevented him from achieving this goal.
Since the Poles wouldn’t play along with this home for a unified German Motherland, a terrible war followed:
The cost of the war that came of a refusal to negotiate Danzig was millions of Polish dead, the Katyn massacre, Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, the annihilation of the Home Army in the Warsaw uprising of 1944, and 50 years of Nazi and Stalinist occupation, barbarism and terror.
It all could have been avoided, Buchanan claims, if it weren’t for Polish intransigence. Does Polish intransigence explain why Hitler decided to murder European Jews, who after all, had been second-class citizens in pre-war Poland? If he really wanted to punish the Poles, why was he so obsessed with the minorities they persecuted?
Note how Buchanan leaves out the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. The word “Jew” isn’t found once in his column despite Hitler’s personal obsession with Jews and the centrality of anti-Semitism to Nazi ideology.
Could we have negotiated with a man who began persecuting Jews and other “undesirables” almost from the moment he took power? Who had already built the first concentration camps and had begun murdering mentally-handicapped citizens while stripping Jews & Gypsies of their civil rights?
But, ringing up Hitler’s anti-Semitism might make us aware that Hitler was more than just a champion of German unity. Apparently, Pat Buchanan doesn’t want us to see the man’s darker side. In this ex-conservative’s view, Hitler didn’t want a war. He didn’t want to dominate Europe, clearing out whole regions where Slavs and Jews lived to make Lebensraum (room to live) for Germans. He was just a zealous advocate of the German people.
Amazing this hash of history Pat Buchanan has made. All the atrocities of World War II could have been avoided if European nations had just negotiated a little more with Hitler. Hitler wasn’t bad. It was the West who made him into the monster he became. The problem is that these atrocities began before Poland, as Buchanan claimed, refused to play footsie with Hitler.
And where have we heard such arguments recently? Certainly not on the political right. My advice to Human Events and TownHall.com is that they drop Pat Buchanan’s column. This man belongs in the company of such apologists for anti-Western tyranny as Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky.
*Just over two hours after posting this, I thought a more appropriate and accurate title would be “Nazi Apologist.”