Tuesday, August 31, 2010

[mssyovsq] Censorship of Nazism

Neo-Nazism is based on racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, etc.: the same old boring xenophobia that has existed forever everywhere and is likely human nature.  (I use "xenophobia" to mean broadly "hatred or distrust of people who are not like us" rather than narrowly "fear of foreigners".  Is there a better term?)

Nazism was based on German national pride, and less obviously, a very justifiable German national pride.  Looking back on what was then recent history for them, Germany had just produced Beethoven and Einstein, as well as Goethe, Gauss, Wagner, Brahms, Hilbert, and Kant, and these are just the famous names I recognize.  (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms: all German, not too shabby.)  Germany had been towering over the rest of the world, combined, in achievements in culture and science.  This is a fact probably well known to German historians, but I only just realized. Nazism was then born in an attempt to maintain (or recover) this rate of German awesomeness, but things went horribly wrong as that ever-present xenophobia was not kept in check, and this is what they are remembered for.

Unfortunately, we lump Neo-Nazism and Nazism together and aggressively censor them both (or make a taboo topic), when they are very different things.  Censorship causes ignorance, in this case my ignorance until now of the historical lessons of Nazism.  Censorship is bad!

The lesson of history from Nazism is a paradoxical one: great achievements are great, but pride in them, especially a factually justifiable national, cultural, or religious pride in them can lead to (thinking superiority) horribly bad things.  This is a lesson relevant to several countries today.  In a word, the lesson is humility.

This essay was inspired by a great many things: one was the humorous realization that the 88-word statement of the "Fourteen Words" means something very different than what Neo-Nazis nowadays take it to mean: Neo-Nazis only see the phrase "purity of our blood" but that's not the important part.  The important part, its point, is its intense statement of German pride.  The "purity of our blood" stuff is a quaint anachronism of the incorrect science of the time, as if he had referenced the "four humors" of medicine.  That cheap-beer drinking, English-speaking, fried chicken loving Neo-Nazis raise as their anthem a statement of pride about a culture of good-beer drinking, German-speaking, bratwurst loving Germans, that is, a culture to which they have no connection or similarity, is humorous.

Another was Google's decision to censor some Nazi-themed application from the Android Market, equating Nazism and Neo-Nazism.

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