Posts Tagged ‘Nazis’

Annie Jacobsen opposes the kinds of conspiracy theories she started

August 15, 2011

It’s silly to believe they’re aliens… They’re clearly part of a Nazi/Communist alliance’s propaganda campaign!

If I were to write a BEAST editorial about how journalists these days are being too offensive to people of faith and spirituality, everyone who read it would rightfully think of me as a huge hypocrite. Or maybe they’d think I’d suffered some kind of brain injury. When you’ve written about faith issues in the way I have, you kind of forfeit your right to complain about people doing the same

Similarly, if you write a book about Roswell and then promote it largely based on the final chapter which invents one of the most out-there conspiracy theories ever, you forfeit your right to complain about loony conspiracy theories. At least you should.

Apparently the NY Daily News doesn’t think so. Last Sunday they featured a mostly reasonable column by Annie Jacobsen about how America has become what she calls a conspiratocracy. It gives a crash course in the history of American conspiracy theories, and speculates as to why they’ve spread so rapidly recently.

There isn’t much with which to disagree in her piece, aside from that the subject she’s writing about is much too wide for a 450 word column. All of the conspiracy theories she mentions are definitely silly and deserving of increased mockery. But it’s definitely odd that Jacobsen would choose this as a topic given her recent past.

A few months ago, Jacobsen released a book about Area 51, the secretive military base which UFO believers claim is the headquarters of the government’s secret research on extraterrestrials and flying saucers. I have not read her book, but I did pay attention to how she promoted it, as authors do, in the media. Here she is on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but probably the most in-depth interview I heard was on NPR’s program Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I’ll get to that in a minute.

From what I’ve heard, most of the book is in the same vein as the NY Daily News column, rightfully debunking loony conspiracy theories about Area 51. But when you get to the last chapter, she introduces a bizarre conspiracy theory of her own to explain the 1947 Roswell incident which many believe to be a case of an alien spacecraft crashing in the New Mexico desert which was then quickly hushed up by the government. Here’s how she explained it to Terry Gross:

“The child-sized aviators in this craft [that crashed in New Mexico] were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, and it was a warning shot over President Truman’s bow, so to speak. In 1947, when this would have originally happened, the Soviets did not yet have the nuclear bomb, and Stalin and Truman were locked in horns with one another, and Stalin couldn’t compete in nuclear weaponry yet, but he certainly could compete in the world of black propaganda — and that was his aim, according to my source. …

“What is firsthand information is that he worked with these bodies [of the pilots] and he was an eyewitness to the horror of seeing them and working with them. Where they actually came from is obviously the subject of debate. But if you look at the timeline with Josef Mengele, he left Auschwitz in January of 1945 and disappeared for a while, and the suggestion by the source is that Mengele had already cut his losses with the Third Reich at that point and was working with Stalin.”

So let’s count how many layers of absurdity we have here. The Soviets collaborated with the notorious Nazi Josef Mengele (1) in order to scare Americans by sending a flying saucer (2) across most of the continental US without detection until it crashed (3), presumably because it was piloted by mutated children disguised as aliens (4). And all of this is substantiated solely by one anonymous source speaking about something which allegedly happened over 60 years ago (5-infinity).

In that same interview, Jacobsen speculates that Mengele’s “child-sized aviators” were the subject of either surgical or genetic mutation. So the latter option would mean that Mengele rounded up people with odd genes in order to selectively breed them specifically for this program to be launched decades in the future in collaboration with the Russians. He must have had pretty amazing foresight in order to predict such an unlikely partnership.

Obviously this is all pretty ridiculous. If you have really low standards of evidence then it’s pretty easy to get away with this kind of “reporting” – all you have to do is find an old man far enough gone to make some kooky claims about having worked on this or that secret government project a lifetime ago, and you’ve got yourself a story. Make it the last chapter of your book and you’ll get on all the talk shows and sell lots of copies. It’s probably not a coincidence that “Con artist authors making up bullshit” doesn’t appear anywhere in Jacobsen’s explanation for why America’s become so obsessed with bullshit conspiracy theories lately. But it probably should be.


How the right deals with Nazis vs. How the left deals with Nazis

April 28, 2010

A couple of weeks ago those teabagger people had their April 15 demos. They had been on their toes looking for infiltrators who would pose while carrying ridiculous signs so that the media would report on how crazy those teabaggers were. To be fair, there’s something to that fear because some blogger announced exactly that as a strategy, and he tried to organize people to that end.

But in this instance, what it looks like is that some honestly racist person decided to show up to protest big guvmint in a swastika shirt. So the Republican teabaggers decided he was a “crasher” and kind of sort of chased him out. So good for them, I guess.

I’m not so much interested in their paranoia or their willingness to believe he wasn’t really “one of them” with no evidence whatsoever. That’s kind of to be expected from those people. But what’s even funnier is how lame and weak their response to this guy was:

Oh no! He’s on NOTICE. Tsk, tsk…

I’m not a violent guy, and if I were in their shoes I’d probably try to talk to him for at least a minute before attacking, too. But sheesh… Talk about using kid gloves on an open fascist.

So that’s one case of how the right deals with Nazis. Basically they wag their fingers at them while calling them “Sir” and make sure the media sees them doing it. And then they let him stick around.

On the other hand:

Three men wearing Nazi garb sparked a brawl with approximately 50 people outside a hardcore punk concert in Philadelphia.
Witnesses said the men were mocked inside the Khyber club Friday night for sporting tattoos of Nazi symbols and wearing camouflaged combat pants, WWII-style coats emblazoned with SS emblems and Third Reich hats with Nazi insignias…
“One Nazi was caught right in the middle of 2nd street as punches, kicks, bottles, boots and blows rained down upon his prone and turtled body. He could be heard crying for help all up and down the block,” the Examiner report read. “The other two were caught nearby and beaten severely.”…
The Examiner reported that the fracas inspired Murphy’s Law to write and play an impromptu song called, “You Should Have Known Better,” prompting an uproarious response from concert-goers.

Unfortunately I cannot find video of the beating. And you better believe I looked.

To be fair, a punk show isn’t exactly a political gathering – but it’s pretty close to one. On the other hand, nobody in Murphy’s Law starting ranting about how the Nazis were plants from some other band’s fanbase. I guess they were confident enough that things would kind of work themselves out, which it seems they did. LOLenfreude.

Jews and Freemasons force Catholic priests to rape kids

April 14, 2010

I’ve really got to make a big caveat here because the original source I’m getting this from is in Italian. Since I don’t speak it, and haven’t even needed to speak Spanish since 2001, I’m at the mercy of Google Translate. So it’s possible that, like most things I say, all of this is completely wrong. The difference here is that it wouldn’t be entirely my own fault. So there.

There’s this retired bishop named Giacomo Babini who decided to speak out against all this hoopla over priests raping kids and whatnot. Babini is even more old-school than the standard Catholic kid-rape apologist, deviating from the “It’s all teh ghey’s fault” line in favor of a conspiracy theory defense about the Jews and the Freemasons:

Last week, retired Bishop Giacomo Babini of the Italian town of Grosseto told the Catholic Pontifex website that the Catholic pedophile scandal is being orchestrated by the “eternal enemies of Catholicism, namely the freemasons and the Jews, whose mutual entanglements are not always easy to see through… I think that it is primarily a Zionist attack, in view of its power and refinement. They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God-killers.”

Jews can kill gods? And that’s a matter of history? Really?

Oh, but wait – he’s not done yet:

“The Holocaust was a shame for all of humanity,” the good bishop told the world, “but now we have to look at it without rhetoric and with open eyes. Don’t believe that Hitler was merely crazy. The truth is that the Nazis’ criminal fury was provoked by the Jews’ economic embezzlement, by which they choked the German economy.”

Wow. Didn’t this start off being about kid-rape? How did it veer so quickly into conspiracy theories about Jews and Freemasons and Nazis in the 1930s? I wish I could just start rambling made up bullshit about history whenever I’m accused of a crime.

Ray Comfort, still retarded

September 19, 2009

Bananaman Ray Comfort is distributing his own abridged version of copies of On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection to college campuses. I’m sure there are some interesting edits in chapter 6 (“Difficulties of Theory”) where Darwin tries to anticipate objections and deal with them. Guess which of those two will be included in Comfort’s version of Origin? He even wrote an introduction, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at the cover. His name is suspiciously absent, for some strange reason. But it’s 50 pages! And it’s online as a .pdf file, but I’m not going to bother looking it up and linking to it because fuck that guy.

Of course, he goes on about how evolution led to the Nazi Holocaust. That’s not just bad history and shameless opportunism, it’s actually Holocaust denial because Comfort is denying the actual truth of the history of the Holocaust. The standard creationist objection when they present an Argument ad Hitlerum is that Hitler accepted evolution, thought that it should be incorporated politically, and the next thing you know it’s Jews-In-The-Ovens time.

The first problem is that even if it were true, this doesn’t actually prove evolution wrong. It just means that people can misuse it via the naturalistic fallacy in order to reinforce their own political beliefs. In order to accept that though, you have to ignore the fact that we are unique among species (as far as we know) in that we can actually distinguish between What Is and What Ought To Be. Just because the natural world is a cruel and heartless place where selective pressures mold species in particular ways at particular times, it does not follow that we ought to institute such policies in our governments. If we did, we would also set up huge molten rock reservoirs and unexpectedly unleash them on populations at random, because hey, that’s what nature does, right?

The second problem, the major one, is that the premise isn’t even true. Hitler, like Ray Comfort, was an evolution denying creationist. Like everyone else, including all of his fellow creationists, Hitler knew that artificial selection (breeding) could create different breeds in a specific way, but he denied that this could be done in what Comfort and his fellow creationists would call “across kinds of animals.” “Kind” is a biblical term for some vague, undefined classification of organisms. Although I don’t think Hitler actually referred to “kinds” of animals, he clearly understood the concept.

“The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.”
Mein Kampf, vol. i, ch. xi

“For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.”
Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x

“From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.”
Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier

Talk like that could appear on the walls of Ken Ham’s creationist “museum” and nobody would even blink. Besides, which position makes it easier to believe that you’re qualified to best know who lives and who dies – that there’s a purpose to life which is given to us by a deity that holds certain peoples in esteem and others in contempt, or that we’re the product of an imperfect and unguided process taking place over billions of years?

The suggestion I’ve been hearing lately has been to get kids in colleges to request this book from their university, remove the pseudoscientific proselytizing in the 50 page intro and give it to other students, or the local library. But that’s going to make it a little lopsided, so maybe pick up a copy of Michael Shermer’s book on Alfred Russell Wallace and stick it in there to balance it.  With all the hoopla over this being the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin, Wallace could use some props, too.

Pat Buchanan’s Nazi apologetics

September 3, 2009

One thing I should just make clear right away: The title of this post is not a hyperbole. I never much liked the Bush=Hitler thing I saw over the past five or six years of the previous administration, and the comparisons that come up now from the extreme right wing and the Lyndon LaRouche cult are just plain absurd. So I’m not just carelessly tossing around a phrase like “Nazi apologetics” with only superficial support.

There’s no need to take my word for it though. Check out his column on which marks the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Jamison Foser at Media Matters provides some context from Buchanan’s history of sympathy for the Nazis, as has Zachary Roth at Talking Points Memo.

Buchanan: John Cleese started WWII

Buchanan: "John Cleese started WWII"

I’ll have to quote a bit at length to get into the context of where Buchanan’s argument falls apart:

On Sept. 1, 1939, 70 years ago, the German Army crossed the Polish frontier. On Sept. 3, Britain declared war.

Six years later, 50 million Christians and Jews had perished. Britain was broken and bankrupt, Germany a smoldering ruin. Europe had served as the site of the most murderous combat known to man, and civilians had suffered worse horrors than the soldiers.

By May 1945, Red Army hordes occupied all the great capitals of Central Europe: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin. A hundred million Christians were under the heel of the most barbarous tyranny in history: the Bolshevik regime of the greatest terrorist of them all, Joseph Stalin.

What cause could justify such sacrifices? The German-Polish war had come out of a quarrel over a town the size of Ocean City, Md., in summer. Danzig, 95 percent German, had been severed from Germany at Versailles in violation of Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination. Even British leaders thought Danzig should be returned.

It might be almost understandable for a columnist to take the German invasion of Poland as merely a result of “a quarrel over a town the size of Ocean City, Md. in summer” as the events were actually unfolding 70 years ago. But now we have the benefit of hindsight, as historians have for over half a century now. We have the Nazi internal records and transcripts of Hitler’s speeches and lots of other lines of evidence which converge on an explanation for the Nazi invasion of Poland being the first step of a psychopath’s strategy to conquer the world. I can’t believe something like that even needs to be pointed out anymore. Then Buchanan goes on to claim that the Holocaust was really all the Allies’ fault. What a douchebag.