Let’s distort history!

That seems to be a right-wing theme. You may recall that a few weeks ago I posted a letter to the editor by Michael Lackey, who is actually an authority on German cultural history in the 20th century — he has published a book on Nazi propaganda of the time, and one of the things he emphasized is how the Nazis fully embraced Christianity, used Christian imagery in their propaganda, and established the legitimacy of their regime by relating it to the dominant Catholic and Lutheran faiths of the people. He compared that to the current Republican adoration of evangelical Christianity, which has been a remarkable enabler of fascism.

Of course, he has gotten pushback in the local paper. The latest is a letter from Evelyn A. Guggisberg, who is appalled that anyone would think Nazis were Christian.

It is unconscionable for Lackey to say what he is saying. When one sees tho that one of his sources is the Washington Post, a noted fake news outlet, it does become understandable why he thinks such folly.

So what is a conservative Christian anyway? A Christian is one who follows Christ. Either you follow Him, or you don’t. For Lackey to say that the Nazis or Hitler were Christian is ludicrous beyond belief! Christ was once accused of being of the devil. It is not uncommon for true followers of Christ to be accused of all kinds of things which are not only not true, but quite opposite.

She doesn’t actually refute his claim with any evidence, because she doesn’t have any. She’s reduced to an argument by definition, rather than any facts. Nazis couldn’t have been Christians, because Christians by definition are all about love and tolerance, and wouldn’t ever be associated with anti-immigration policies, homophobia, racism, discrimination, or police-state violence.

I guess America isn’t Christian then, either.

I kind of stopped reading her letter at this point:

I happen to be an avid Trump supporter. I wasn’t always. It was my faith which brought me around. I happen to abhor perpetual lying. I have come to learn that is what democrats and fake news reporters excel in. How mournful that Lackey still believes such lies apparently. I don’t believe that there ever has been a president in our nation’s history who has been more belittled or lied about than Donald Trump.

This historical denialism seems to be a major strategy on the American Right — in particular, the demonization of the American Left by claiming that they are indistinguishable from Nazis in all of their views and policies, which requires some pretty serious lying about the positions of the Nazis in order to pretend that Bernie Sanders and Adolf Hitler are identical. The video below by Three Arrows is an excellent antidote to that, and also exposes Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro, and Dinesh D’Souza as the dishonest buffoons they are.


  1. Doubting Thomas says

    I’ve had this argument many times. Told that NAZI stands for “National Socialist” therefore NAZIs were socialists, I reply that thugs can call themselves what ever they want. Just like Republicans can call themselves “Christian”, whatever that means.

  2. garnetstar says

    Guggisberg is wrong: the defintion of a Christian, in the evangelicals’ minds, is that the person has accepted Christ as their savior, and that, by that act of faith alone, that person is saved.

    Evangelical protestants are very down on being saved by works: that’s a really Catholic idea, to them. One is saved only by faith, in their eyes. So, after having accepted Christ, their actions are immaterial: people will continue to sin, of course, but that doesn’t matter. Good or bad, works do nothing to determine your Christianity.

    So, even if the sins are mass murder, torture, and genocide, Nazis who professed to have been “saved”, should, in her book, be Christians. Of course, she wouldn’t accept that “Christian” can be defined any way someone wants, by anyone, as it is inherently such an illogical idea, but by her own religion’s official standards, she is wrong.

  3. wzrd1 says

    So, she embraces No True Scotsman.
    And Orwell.
    For, she goes No True Scotsman in her opening, only to doublethink by rejecting lies by embracing a liar a minute Trump.

    OK, she’s an asshole. Moving on and ignoring, lest I grow annoyed enough to trip her with my cane.
    Not even worth that modest effort.

  4. says

    The fact of the matter is that there has never been a single, universal definition of Christianity. Even the bible itself details disagreements and varying perspectives; heresies, confusion and infighting. Since the whole matter is shrouded in mysticism, divine authority, and just plain blind faith, there’s no way to objectively distinguish whose definition is supposed to be right. It’s not even clear what “right” means. I mean, what’s the standard of evaluation?

    The Catholic Church has the longest continuous tradition, but Jehovahs Witnesses claim that this is over-reliant on fallible human beings and so take their cue from scripture directly. Meanwhile, the Mormons claim direct revelation, including a brand new (supposedly restored original) scripture. Each group claims that the others are fundamentally wrong about God, Jesus and the path to salvation. What’s an atheist to do?

    All I can do is take their self-descriptions at face value and accept that there are divergent views on the matter. If a Nazi self-defines as Christian, I see that as absolutely identical to a Catholic doing the same. I accept both, because they’re identical situations.

    The Nazis claimed the Christian label. That is a fact. Everything else is theology.

  5. says

    To be fair She isn’t really lying. Trumpianism isn’t really lying. It is bullshit. I wish people would track this distinction better. Liars are easier to deal with. It doesn’t require force.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    similar to recent arguments against “socialism”. I try to explain my viewpoint, that there is a distinction being lost between True Socialism [yes a True Scotsman analog], and those who call themselves socialists.
    In short, a dictator claiming his system is socialism, needs to be examined for its adherence to the definition of socialism itself. From Lenin on down to Venezuela currently, the definition disagrees with them.
    NAZI’s maybe initially claimed to be Christian, in order to rally them into the NAZI troops. The point is they were USING Christianity, while not actually being Christian.
    Very similar to all the Evangelicals today, who claim Christianity while everything they do disagrees with the writings of Christ’s teachings in that book.
    Thank you for reading while I start getting very Schrodinger…

  7. says

    Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich is a thorough exposition of how Hitler and his chums ruthlessly, cynically and quite consciously went about hijacking Christianity in Germany to serve their agenda by exploiting the prejudices of believers, to the point where they were rewriting the lyrics of fucking Christmas carols to make them be about the Führer, all without a peep from so-called conservatives*. I’d recommend it only it’d probably give them ideas: A Very Trump Christmas 🤢

    There were plenty who didn’t toe the line, for example, the Confessing Church movement whose members like Dietrich Bonhoeffer ended up murdered by the Nazi regime for their resistance.

  8. jacksprocket says

    A Christian is one who follows Christ’s teaching. So I hope our conservative Christian has given all she has to the poor that she might have a better chance of going to heaven than a camel of a needle, turns the other cheek, plucks out her eyes if they offend her, judges not lest she herself be judged, considers the lilies of the field and doesn’t work, is a blessed peacemaker (not of the Wild West variety), is poor in spirit whatever that means, sees the beam in her own eye and rescues Samaritans.

    At least one Christian has followed the teaching to become as little children, and whinges, screams and sulks if he doesn’t get his own way.

  9. says

    With all the problem we have in Germany right now, at least the catholic and protestant churches are firmly behind the fight against the right*. When the strongest political ally of the catholic church, the CSU (christian social union), put up crosses in public buildings, the churches where two of the biggest critics of this blandly political move.

    And they are so outspoken against the AfD (the new nazi party), that the AfD uses anti church rhetoric.

    *At least until topics like abortion rights and LGBTIQ+ inclusion are reached.

  10. nomdeplume says

    @12 Both sides in the First World War believed god was on their side!

    Guggisberg is yet another example of the ability of the Right to talk absolute nonsense with the greatest confidence.

  11. says

    Doubting Thomas @ 1: I always thought that Hitler & co. called their party “National Socialists” as a cunning form of branding. Both nationalism and socialism were hot-button topics in the 1920s in the wake of WWI and the Russian Revolution respectively. By invoking both, they appeared to be fashionably up-to-date while appealing to tradition at the same time (“no, see, we’re national socialists! Proper German ones, not like those icky international communists! You know who we mean, eh? Eh?”)

    If they were setting up in the modern-day US, they’d probably call themselves the “Patriotic Libertarians” or something but their party platform would be exactly the same.

  12. microraptor says

    Cat Mara @14: I think they’d probably call themselves the “Freedom Caucus” or something along those lines.

  13. Holms says

    Anyone that can claim “Back then the 1% were jews” – as if analogous with the modern usage of ‘the 1%’ – is remarkably dishonest.

  14. Paulino says

    This, er, “debate” has been raging here in Brazil ever since the Worker’s Party took the presidency in 2002 for three and a half mandates (Dilma Roussef was impeached). All because of the name of the Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) Recently the German consulate put up a video to explain that this debate is non-existent in Germany, and that Nazism is a extreme right movement. As you might imagine, Brazilian right wingers are now saying the Germans know nothing about nazism because they are all socialists. And to prove that Brazilians know all about Nazi History, we risk electing Jair Bolsonaro a populist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic former military that believes that killing is the right answer for almost everything. Stephen Fry and Elen Page interviewed this guy on two occasions, they are on YouTube, if you’re morbidly curious.