Not every antisemite is a Nazi

Each time we use words like “Nazi” or call someone a Hitler, we reduce the enormity of Hitler’s destruction and of Nazi evil.

December 12, 2016 21:30
4 minute read.
Nazi France

A Nazi swastika banner hangs on the facade of the Prefecture Palace in Nice which is being used as part of a movie set during the filming of a WWII film in the old city of Nice, France. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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There are plenty of antisemites out there, real antisemites – and the worst of them fall into the category of those who believe that the solution to the world’s problems is the annihilation of the Jews.

Hitler did not invent antisemitism. There were antisemites before Hitler. He just took it to a new level, a level unprecedented in human history. Throwing around the word “Nazi” as a name for people you disagree with, even vehemently disagree with, is an abuse of the Holocaust. It is an affront to all those who were murdered. Misusing and batting the terms around as common insults is a violation of historical accuracy.

It is a denial of the enormity of the massive catastrophe called the Holocaust.

Nazis plotted and put into place a plan to murder every single Jew, first in Europe, then throughout the world. Yes, there were other victims. But the Nazi murder machine was created for Jews and Jews alone. Other victims, even when imprisoned inside camps, were not the primary target of the Nazis.

Hitler’s Germany was a unique historical phenomenon of hatred and action. It was the first time in history that machinery was crafted, invented and perfected to the highest level of efficiency to produce mass murder.

Of course civilians do die in wars and of course there have been other massacres, but in those cases the murderers abused their weapons, which were designed for defense, or for hunting.

In the case of Nazis, the entire raison d’etre of the Final Solution was to murder innocent Jews. Factories of death were planned and built. These factories were run by the elite Nazi SS. Their existence had no bearing on the war. Their sole purpose was to murder Jews as efficiently as possible.

Murdering Jews was so important to Hitler and the Nazi mission that even after the tide of the war shifted and it was clear the Nazis were losing, they did not slow down the murder process. Actually, they increased the flow of resources to the factories of murder and stepped up the speed with which they murdered at the death camps.

The word “antisemite” was coined in the 1870s, by Wilhelm Marr. Marr, a known racist, created the term based on the name Shem, the son of Noah who became the progenitor of the Jews. It was not his classification, rather, he chose the word antisemite based on the science of language that was evolving at the time.

Etymology and philology became important sciences in the late 1800s. Language scientists classified the languages of the Middle East as part of the Semitic language group. These were languages written from right to left and based on three-letter roots.

Marr picked up on the term Semitic, calling himself an antisemite and his movement antisemitism. He was proud of his new movement and went to great lengths to create huge distance between his antisemitism and traditional Jew hatred of the past.

Marr’s antisemitism was a pure science.

It rejected medieval religious notions of the Jew. For Marr, it was a science of superiority.

This was the period of the advent of the philosophy of racism and chauvinism, deeply entrenched in love of nation. Marr was one of its founders.

Now, fast-forward to today. Each time we use words like “Nazi” or call someone a Hitler, we reduce the enormity of Hitler’s destruction and of Nazi evil.

Regardless of whatever one might think, or how strongly one might disagree with someone else, calling them a Nazi is taking it too far, way too far. Nazism is not what we have in politics in the United States.

I have looked at the Breitbart site. And looked again and again. Breitbart is not what people have labeled it. No doubt some of the talkback comments are off the charts, but that happens in feedback sections in more mainstream websites, too. I don’t read crazy comments, preferring positive dialogue. Showing a lack of respect hardly makes someone a Nazi or an antisemite. It makes them merely disrespectful.

Here’s a bit of information anti-Breitbarters should know: Andrew Breitbart came up with the idea to create the news website while on a visit to Israel in 2007. He wanted to create an unabashedly pro-Israel news forum. He wanted a forum that promoted pro-American points of view that supported Israel against a sea of media enemies.

There is no way then, and there is no way now, that this mission should be misconstrued as antisemitic.

Remember, when we abuse the Holocaust, Hitler and his Nazi movement win.

The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.

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