The Daily Mail reporter is more representative of the Western public at large. He doesn’t seem to have any lefty ax to grind, and not being in showbiz, he does not labor under the disadvantage of having had his brain turned to bean curd from associating with preening morons all day long. He just shows the common historical sensibility of our times, viz. that 20th-century European history began in 1933 and ended in 1945.
Leftist political commentary’s Godwin’s-Law tendency is depressing and should be resisted and deplored whenever it shows itself. Hitler’s Germany does not map into any large tendency in modern American politics. Some particular components of it map into localized phenomena; but even when this happens, it is usually to our political Left’s detriment.
Our culture’s strongest anti-Semitism, for example, is found among black radicals. The Academy’s politicization, a key part of the modern Left’s program, was also a key part of Hitler’s. (Highly successful in both cases: “During the first five years of the regime…the proportion of those who lost their posts through defying National Socialism was, as Professor Wilhelm Roepke, himself dismissed from the University of Marburg in 1933, said, ‘exceedingly small’.” —The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Chapter 8.) Nazi culture’s quasi-pagan nature worship has resurfaced in far-Left environmental and animal-rights groups…and so on.
Orwell, who was no bubblehead and who had taken a bullet through the neck fighting against fascism, wrote the following when reviewing Mein Kampf in early 1940:
I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power—till then, like nearly everyone, I had been deceived into thinking that he did not matter—I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity. The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs…It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself. The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is there. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoleon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.
There you have a mature, thoughtful, worldly, and well-educated man reflecting on Hitler’s success in having seduced Europe’s most civilized nation into his own peculiar style of barbarism.
Orwell’s calm cogitations are a long way from the modern Left’s vapid, shrieking sloganeering. For the shriekers, however, as for Orwell, there is something “deeply appealing” about Hitler. That Man will be with us for a while yet.
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