The 9/11 hijacker was a member of its Engineers Syndicate. The Times and willful blindness.
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“Anti-Semitism Discounted” the paper told Americans in a headline of the day. The Nazis themselves were “discouraging” the notion that they had this Jew-hating obsessive kind of thing going. Got that? Really. Germany, after all, had long had a history of a bit of this admittedly unseemly sentiment, don’t you know. So there was nothing really new here. Certainly nothing to get excited about.
However, there were those irritating Americans back in the U.S. who were concerned about Hitler, wrote the unnamed Times reporter in a “Special Cable” for the paper. Word of this unsettling worry had reached the Times bureau in Berlin and, well, being right there on the scene and all the reporter could say for a fact that this kind of thing was actually just… crazy. To be specific, the Times wanted to allay “some anxiety” that a “Hitler gospel of hate” had any traction as a political movement. You know, the kind of political movement that could actually take over all of Germany and pose some sort of imaginary threat to its European neighbors, as silly an idea as that obviously was to the Timesman on the scene.
Reported the crack Times reporter in Crowley-esque terms: “Among those whose opinions are worthwhile because they know Germany best, the chance of a victory for Adolph Hitler is calculated at a small percentage indeed.”
It was those nasty outsiders — read anxious Americans and a cranky out-of-government Brit named Winston Churchill — who were constantly spreading these scurrilous rumors of life and politics in the Germany of 1932. The paper insisted — insisted — that “rumors from outside of a widespread anti-Semitic revival because of the Nazi campaign [are] discounted by the facts.”
What a relief! Exactly how did this rejection of anti-Semitism come about? Well, believe it or not, it seems that “the Nazi leaders themselves are not encouraging it.”
Phew! That was great news, no? The Nazi leaders told the Times and the Times believed the Nazi leaders.
Fortunately, this wasn’t good enough for everybody at the New York Times. Nope, the paper was determined to get out there in the German countryside and see for itself just what examples of Nazi anti-Semitism they could find to illustrate all of this hysterical psychodrama being played out in some anxious American and British minds. By golly, what they found was some uncomfortable evidence those Nazis had an inappropriate sense of humor. You see, there was “concrete evidence” that was just as solid as could be that Adolf’s merry pranksters had actually been caught “pelting” a Jewish school kid with “orange peels and banana skins.” Banana skins, get it? The Nazis (and today’s Islamic fundamentalists) referred (and refer) to Jews as “apes.” Yuk, yuk. Actually, it was really Nazi-sympathizing kids who did this and there was no solid link to Mr. Hitler. And the paper was happy to say that “the offenders were promptly disciplined by the school authorities.” That was showing ‘em.
See? No problem, Americans of 1932. The wild beast was indeed checked. It was OK to let loose the chain. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi’s were Just One No Big Deal.
Besides, even if some sort of highly unlikely series of events led Herr Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party to some degree of participation in a German government they just wouldn’t have the votes to get what the Times labeled “the visionary economic measures” (ahhhh, the lure of parties with words like” Socialist” and “Workers” in their title — even then sucker bait for Timesmen) actually enacted into law. As a matter of fact, in another unsigned “wireless” report for the Times later in the year when, amazingly enough, Herr Hitler and his party seemed to have gained a wee bit of traction in spite of all the poo-pooing from the Times, the power they now seemed to be on the verge of grabbing would — damn! — have to be obtained strictly “through legal means.”
So how would a Nazi participation in governing Germany actually work? The Times explained. “The party, it is thought, will possibly figure as part of a coalition Cabinet with the majority…possibly as a Cabinet minority dependent…on tolerance by the actual Reichstag majority.” See? No problem. Even “Financial Berlin” was not “alarmed” at this, the Times said.
But there was a problem. Hitler quietly noted to one supporter that everything he was promising was in fact a charade. All of it. His promise to act within the democratic system, to be non-violent, all of it was a fraud. “We shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag” as elected members, he said. “If outvoting them [the other parties] takes longer than outshooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own constitution. Any lawful process is slow…. Sooner or later we shall have a majority — and after that, Germany.”
After that, Germany. And the rest, as they say, is history. The pelted orange peels and banana skins became concentration camps that murdered six million Jews — and eventually World War II.
Why is any of this important today? Who cares if the New York Times of 1932, like the liberal Prime Minister of Bavaria in 1924, got Hitler hopelessly wrong, illustrating in vivid terms a mind-boggling naiveté? This is 2011. We’re talking about Egypt, not Germany in 1932.
Right? Wrong. Would it be great if the “Twitter Revolution” provided Egyptians who won’t be terrorized into an Iranian-style Islamic dictatorship? Or an Egyptian version of the Nazis? Of course.