Y OU DOUBTLESS have come upon the Associated Press headline of a Julie Watson article informing the world that “US Marines posed with [a] Nazi symbol in Afghanistan.” I myself suspect, but cannot yet prove, that this represents an instance of all-too-familiar ignorance, plain and simple. Having taught military-aged youth, I’m depressingly aquainted with the history-challenged. This is quite bad enough, and also indicative of a systemic rot, the depth of which was soon revealed in the even more objectionable media coverage which ensued. I submit to the court of opinion the following example:
THIS PAST week news arrived of a forthcoming Mel Gibson project, a Warner Brothers “biopic” concerning the life of Judah Maccabee. The announcement provoked the inevitable outrage, an example of which is Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who stated the proposed film is akin to “having a white supremacist portray Martin Luther King Jr.” The analogy however is founded, even if understandably and legitimately enough, not upon logic but rather emotion. Considered on logical grounds alone, Gibson’s fitness to portray sympathetically the life of a guerilla war hero and anti-secular reactionary religious fundamentalist is beyond question.
REVISIONIST CLAIMS of a website dedicated to the British fascist and politician Sir Oswald Mosley bring to mind the expression “damned with faint praise.” This, for example, cited from the historian A. J. P. Taylor: “He was never anti-Semitic — only opposed to a Second World War for the sake of Jews elsewhere. He was never unpatriotic — only indifferent to German conquests in eastern Europe … A superb political thinker, the best of our age.”