BY GARY EDMONDSON
The crossword puzzle clue was “Led.” The answer was 11 letters. Nothing popped into my head, but, as I worked over that corner, the word began to take shape. Finally, with about half the letters showing, I smiled and finished off “Spearheaded.”
The smile was for my dad, whom we lost last December. A crowning episode of his life was his World War II service in the Third Armored Division [in Omar Bradley’s First Army]. They were known as the Spearhead in the West as they charged across Northern France past the German border.
He and his buddies were just a few of many Americans who saved the world from Nazis. Their division suffered 9,243 casualties, 1,810 fatalities [including one commanding general] and earned more than 10,500 Purple Hearts [my dad’s among them] as they drove the Germans out of France. [And remember, these sacrifices represent just one division.] Along the way, they liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp.
The crossword puzzle experience was happier than one the day before when my Nebraska news surfing uncovered a story first reported by Omaha’s WOWT-TV: “A giant swastika was burned into the lawn at Memorial Park, just a week after Nazi books were displayed in little libraries across the city …
“The Nazi regime symbol war burned in the Memorial Park lawn, a place that honors American soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.”
Yes, in our Heartland, American Nazis – whose mere existence speaks to the failure of our educational and religious systems – dishonor their own heroic forbearers who defeated Hitler’s henchmen.
We must presume the Omaha Nazis are “fine folks” like the klanazi contingent that brought death to Charlottesville, VA last year.
Last spring, anticipating the 50th anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc, wrote: “Fifty years after Martin Luther King was killed, our society is still white supremacist, and President Trump is evidence of massive societal failure.
“I don’t care who you voted for; we white people made it and continue to make it comfortable for bigots to be public bigots, for ignorant people to be public ignoramuses and for white ‘leaders’ to shuck and jive their way around inequality, inequities and overt bigotry in the organizations they lead.”
One way public bigotry has been maintained since World War II is in the seemingly benign “fascination” with “German engineering,” “German ingenuity.” American Nazis choose to forget that American ingenuity, engineering and bravery defeated those supposedly superior German war machines twice.
As early as 1961, The Usual Gang of Idiots at Mad magazine worried perceptively about American over-interest in Hitler’s Germany. Their “Sing Along with Mad” songbook included this ditty, attributed to a publisher: “If you knew Hitler like I know Hitler / Oh, oh, oh how he sells! / The world’s a patsy for this cute Nazi / So, so, I romanticize this ratsy. / I am so noble to tell of his fate / But while I’m telling / Sick folks I exhilarate.”
Publishers have been exhilarating sick folk ever since. The latest edition of my general catalog from E. R. Hamilton Books Co. offered 76 books focusing on Hitler, Nazis and the German side of the war. The Allied effort in Europe was covered by 54 books.
Hamilton’s on-line site categorized 295 books on Hitler & the Nazis. Only Notable Battles and Campaigns, which included the Pacific Theater, had more listings . The only other sub-categories with more than half the listings of the Nazis were Notable Military Units and Wartime Diaries & Memoirs – both of which include reports from the opposing armies.
One of the books in the catalog presents the personal story of all 889 recipients of the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves, who were honored by Hitler personally.
Another criticizes the “extensive bombing campaign” by the Allies that left a “swath of physical and human destruction across northwest France” as the good guys rooted out the bad guys and sent them packing.
And this is just the mainstream stuff. Ult-wrong racists spread lies and hatred 24/7 to a willing audience.
The attorney for one of those haters claims in his client’s defense that charges of waging a hate campaign against a Jewish woman in Montana – including threatening to re-enact the Holocaust with her and her family – are meaningless since the hater denies that systematic slaughter of 13 million people – such as those who died at Nordhausen before my dad and his pals arrived.
“White people elected Donald Trump,” Visconti points out.
“White people elected him because he speaks directly to ignorant people’s id. ‘It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of everybody else but you.’
“Nah, it’s your fault,” Visconti concludes.
Scapegoating is the foundation of racists, from Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler to Donald Trump and his minions. Having a president of these United States encourage Klansmen and Nazis insults [and assaults] everything the Greatest Generation fought to preserve.
– Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party