Nazi X

By | Wednesday, July 26, 2023 Leave a Comment
Given downward trend (or maybe plummet might be a better word) of X/Twitter to a cesspool of right-wing hatred, a lot of people have brought up this idea that Nazis have always been bad, and we literally fought a war to stop them, and we should always fight against hatred like that, and so on. The general message being that America has always hated Nazis and Nazism, and that we would never tolerate their shit. Which is a great sentiment but it's not really accurate.

Let me state in no uncertain terms: Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are fucking assholes. Their hatred is a pestilence on humanity. Every single one of them can fuck right off.

The part that's inaccurate is America's tolerance for Nazis.

Comic fans like to point to Captain America punching Hitler on the jaw on the cover of Captain America Comics #1. Or Daredevil and his companions battling Hitler on the cover of Daredevil Comics #1. Both of which pre-date the attack on Pearl Harbor by several months.

But that's the thing: Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II, but it's a war that had been going on for YEARS before the US became officially involved. World War II officially started in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland! Germany annexed Austria in 1938! The Nuremberg Laws that officially sanctioned the murdering of Jews in Germany was passed in 1935! Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and became it's Führer in 1934! He wrote Mein Kampf in 1925! The Nazi party was actually formed in 1920!

Granted, news moved a bit slower back then, and you could debate at precisely what point it would've made the most sense to act, but my point is that America tolerated YEARS of Nazism before taking a formal stand.

What made these comics visually advocating the punching of Hitler significant is precisely because it was not yet US policy. Yes, Jack Kirby absolutely wanted to go over and kill Hitler. As did Charles Biro. And there were indeed like-minded people who saw those comics and agreed with the sentiment. But it wasn't a universal one.

There's a famous anecdote about the Simon & Kirby offices receiving death threats after Captain America Comics #1 hit the stands, and that New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia personally promised police protection to the studio. But that was only after Simon & Kirby received a bunch of hate mail, and Kirby himself stormed down from the studio to take on group of Nazi sympathizers who were threatening him from the lobby. (They had run away before Kirby made it down to the first floor.)

In 1941, nine years before his first book was published, Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist for PM, a New York newspaper. Many of his cartoons poked fun at the "America First" crowd generally and those who advocated for an isolationist approach to Hitler. But these weren't just vague ideas that he thought someone might hold, these were ideas championed by specific individuals with media platforms, and Seuss called them out by name: pilot Charles Lindbergh and popular radio host Father Charles Coughlin to name two.

The United States didn't enter World War II because of Hitler. We entered World War II because we were bombed by Japan. We wanted revenge on Japan first and foremost. That Germany and Japan were allies meant that Germany was the US enemy by proxy. We sent soldiers to Germany but we dropped atomic bombs on Japan. Unnecessary atomic bombs. We rounded up and put Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps, but left white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers roam free. We were in World War II for revenge against the Japanese.

Let me reiterate. Nazis are bad. If you're advocating the death of an entire group of people because of their skin color or religion, you absolutely deserve to be punched in the face. But saying that America has always hated Nazis and what we're seeing recently is somehow new simply is not true. While a lot of people have hated Nazis for a long time, a lot of other people thought it was better to deal with Nazis by looking the other way.

Which is why we still have to hit them in the face.
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