Not Seeing The Problem

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Memo to Rich Iott: BAD NAZI! NO BISCUIT!

You know I've gotta. Even amidst the noise and haste that is the 2010 election, full of fuckholes and morons of every stripe and a few plaids, an Ohio congressional candidate who dressed up as a Nazi? I'm contractually obligated to make fun of that shit.

Let me be clear right off the bat. Rich Iott, the Nazi in question, is not a Nazi. He can say, fairly convincingly, that Hitler was a very bad person and the whole "kill all the Jews" thing was an awful, awful idea. But if you're going to spend several years dressing up like a Nazi and recreating the exploits of a Waffen SS unit AND go into politics, the very least I expect of you is to have a good excuse ready and prepared for when the inevitable photos and videos surface. And by that metric, Rich Iott is the worst Nazi I've ever seen. Let's begin the beguine, shall we?

"I don't see anything wrong about educating the public about events that happened. And that's the whole purpose of historical re-enacting."

OK, that's actually not a bad start. The only way it could perhaps be found deficient is if he'd spent, oh, say, three or four years as part of a regular group of Nazi impersonators, with a website devoted to the history of the specific group of Nazis they were impersonating, with text that makes it sound a bit like they admired the Nazi's anti-Communist zeal. You know, something like this:

"Germany headed a strong movement in Europe to actively campaign (politically and through warfare) against the ideals of Bolshevist Communism. This culminated in 1941, when the German armed forces were pitted against the very home of Bolshevism, Soviet Russia. - The history section of the "Wiking" web site.

Historical reenactments require some people to dress up as evil bastards. There's no getting around that. But there's something more than a little creepy about how Method the Wikings were about it. But it's still too early to assume that Iott felt anything but pride in craftsmanship when he put on his well-tailored SS uniform. Boy, I sure hope his further excuses don't delve into desperation and borderline Nazi apologizing!

"When Rich and I were at the Cannes film festival he was excited to join me at an orthodox Shabbat dinner. He had a great time speaking with the Rabbis and we all enjoyed a very festive and spiritual evening. Anytime the subject comes up Rich is not shy about his stance on Israel and the importance of it remaining a Jewish state. I know he also traveled to Israel to train with their airborne troops. - Rich Iott's Jewish friend, Richard Gabai, explaining in the Jewishest way possible how much Rich Iott loves Jews.

Which is fine, but I think we've already established that Iott was never in favor of the "kill the Jews" stuff. I mean, yay, he's smart enough to change out of his Nazi uniform before having dinner with a bunch of Rabbis, good for him. But that doesn't mean he might not have a slightly rosier view of Scandinavians who joined up with the Jew killers to fight Communists than is strictly appropriate:

"They wanted to fight what they saw as a bigger threat to them than Germany. I don't think we can sit here and judge that today. We weren't there the time they made those decisions." - Iott, on Anderson Cooper's show.

OK. I am, at best, a dilettante when it comes to history. And I'm aware that it's a complex subject with a lot of factors to consider. But you know what? I'm perfectly comfortable judging the fucking SS. I don't have to be standing next to them, suggesting that maybe the Communists of the time weren't as dangerous as Hitler's elite troops. They were the SS, for fuck's sake. I didn't sit through eight years of hearing that we couldn't call Bush evil because fifty years from now he'd be vindicated only to have some Republican asshole in an SS uniform tell me I can't judge Nazis from roughly the same distance.

Again, this isn't necessarily a dig at historical re-enactment. But you've got to remember something about historical re-enactment. It's done by nerds. And nerds, as we all know, have a tendency to stalk their hobbies, to obsess over them and then justify that obsession. And whether it comes from a natural attraction, as with some of the more, shall we say, "heritage-oriented" Confederacy re-enactors, or just through a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, the level of nerd-identification implied by the Wiking's dedication to their art ought to raise some serious fucking eyebrows.

Especially when Iott can't go three days without tacitly defending Nazis on CNN.