Sunday, December 23, 2007

Breathtaking revisionism

by shamanic

Kudos to Jeff at Shakesville who caught a really breathtaking bit of historical revisionism, with Jonah Goldberg apparently arguing in his new book that the Nazi Party was effectively a gay organization.

I've read pretty extensively on this era over the years, and all I can say here is that if Jonah is seriously making this argument, Jeff is exactly right: Jonah has joined the ranks of holocaust deniers.

Here are the facts as recognized by historians and scholars of the gay 20th century: there was a growing and relatively open gay culture that thrived in pre-Nazi Berlin. The Nazis took over and smashed a vibrant gay universe, rounded up gay men, used address books to round up their friends, and interred many in concentration camps. Some were given the choice of castration. When the Allies liberated the camps, the men wearing pink triangles were often forced to finish out their "sentences", and the governments of Europe did not recognize gays as a persecuted class under the Nazi regime until very recently.

While it's certainly true that there were homosexuals in high ranks (until they were killed, anyway) in the Nazi party, it's worthwhile to note that the same is certainly true of the GOP, another group that actively works against civil liberties for gays and lesbians. I'm not saying gays are the smartest people in the world, just that you can find us in the most unexpected places.

If you want to see and hear the stories of some of the men and women who survived this atrocity, the film Paragraph 175 is a stunning meditation on the experiences of gays and lesbians in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. It effectively rebuts the kind of revisionism that Goldberg seems to aiming for, and it's a chapter of the holocaust that has not been told very effectively because of our lingering prejudice against gays and lesbians.

And check out Sadly, No!'s takedown of Jonah's blathering. And kill this meme before it has a chance to become a tenet of whatever is left of conservatism.

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