Respectful Insolence

Hey, it worked for Hitler

Immigration has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, particularly with our President’s speech tonight in which he proposed sending thousands of National Guard troops to the border to reinforce the Border Patrol. Indeed, the subject of immigration all too often brings out the looniness in the right, and this time was no exception.

Enter Vox Day, our “favorite” Libertarian Christian commentator at WorldNet Daily, who never fails to disappoint with sheer unbridled wingnuttery. This time around, forwarded to me by a fellow member of The Holocaust History Project, comes this little gem from Vox:

Dear Jorge plans to address the nation tonight, a speech wherein he will almost surely attempt to deceive citizens into believing that he does not wish the mass migration from Mexico to continue unabated. He will likely offer some negligible resources for law enforcement and border security – resources which will never materialize – in return for an amnesty program that will grant American citizenship to the Mexican nationals who have helped lower America’s wage rates by 16 percent over the last 32 years.

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it’s just not going to work.”

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.


Ooh boy. I was momentarily tempted to sic the Hitler Zombie on Vox again, but decided against it simply because he wasn’t using bad Hitler or Holocaust analyses to smear a political opponent, which is usually the best indication of a Hitler Zombie attack. In fact, he seemed to be iimplicitly comparing the anti-immigration movement to the Nazis, thus shooting himself in the foot. (Of course, much of what Vox writes does make me suspect that something has been munching on his cerebrum, whether it be the Hitler Zombie or something else. In any case, I didn’t have time to write a post that would truly do justice to the Undead Führer, who, sadly, still awaits the appearance of a suitable incident to make his debut on ScienceBlogs.) Believe it or not, Bush was not “lying” this time around. He was actually demonstrating a rare (for him) bit of insight when he asserted that the mass deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants is unrealistic. But let’s accept for the moment Vox’s explanation that he wasn’t advocating another Holocaust (that’s not what makes his analogy so bad, anyway):

For the Nth time, I could not care less what illiterates and cretins such as the sort popping up today think about me or anything else. I suspect WND is similarly indifferent. The idea that anyone should apologize for the mere mention of the Holocaust is absurd. I mean, even those Jews who were previously so quick to get their panties in a bunch over my postulating that perhaps medieval anti-semitism was not merely the result of chance took no umbrage over today’s column, presumably because they are capable of reading at a functional level.

The point is simple. President Bush states that something is not possible. There is a very well-known historical example which proves otherwise. Whether one is sexually stimulated by that historical example or enjoys moral preening by condemning it more often and more loudly than his neighbor, it does not change the fact that Dear Jorge is completely wrong.

No, I don’t take umbrage over your “mention of the Holocaust,” Vox. I take umbrage at the astounding lack of historical insight your analogy demonstrates. First off, let’s look at this assertion by Vox again:

If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.

Point one: The vast majority of the Jews that the Nazis “rid themselves of” were not German and did not live in Germany. Rather, they were residents of territories conquered during the war in the East, particularly Poland and the Soviet Union. Indeed, there were nowhere near six million Jews in Germany. There were slightly over 500,000 in Germany at the time Hitler took power in 1933. Most of them were indeed well-integrated into German society, but they made up only 0.75% of the population (not the 4% of the U.S. population that the figure of 12 million illegal immigrants, if accurate, represents). Vox also does not appear to know that 80% of these German Jews held German citizenship, and the vast majority of those who did not were in the country legally, the latter group being mostly made up of Polish Jews who had been born in Germany and thus were permanent residents. Vox is comparing apples to oranges. (So what else is new?)

You’d think a Mensa member like Vox could at least get the above basic historical facts right. You’d be wrong. Heck, these facts are easily available from many sources on the Internet. Vox wouldn’t even have to crack a history book to find them. Vox is clearly mixing up the mass killings in the East with the deportation and murder of the considerably smaller number of Jews in Germany itself.

Point two: Vox seems not to realize that getting rid of all these Jews caused many difficulties, even for a totalitarian regime. It took far longer than four years for Germany to “rid itself” of its Jews. In Germany proper, during the six and a half years from his assumption of power to the invasion of Poland, Hitler ratcheted up the pressure and discrimination, with laws that stripped German Jews of the right to hold civil service jobs to the Nuremberg Laws, which deprived Jews of full German citizenship and outlawed intermarriage between Jews and non-Jewish Germans. Over that time, because of the steadily worsening conditions, approximately 300,000 Jews emigrated to other countries to escape. Beginning in 1941, German Jews were systematically “relocated” to the East, as described here:

Systematic deportations of Jews from Germany began in late September 1941, even before the extermination camps were established in occupied Poland. Between October and December 1941, nearly 50,000 Jews were deported from Germany, mostly to ghettos in Lodz, Warsaw, Minsk, Kovno, and Riga. German Jews sent to Lodz and Warsaw were later deported along with Polish Jews to the extermination camps at Chelmno and Treblinka, and Auschwitz.

Some Jews deported from the German Reich (including Jews from Austria and the annexed Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia) to ghettos in the Baltic states and Belorussia were shot shortly after arrival, by Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units). Jews surviving the initial slaughter were enclosed in special “German sections” of eastern ghettos, where they were segregated from local Jews. Such sections were established, for example, in Riga and Minsk. Most of the Jews from Germany were killed during the destruction of these ghettos. In 1942 and 1943, the majority of Jews remaining in Germany were deported directly to the extermination camps, mainly Auschwitz-Birkenau.

So, if Vox wants to be accurate, he would have to acknowledge that it took Germany over 10 years to “rid itself” of less than 500,000 Jews, approximately 40% of whom ended up being murdered in the process (in actuality over 90% of the Jews who didn’t get while the getting was good were murdered). Even with Hitler’s “best” efforts, several thousand Jews remained in Germany at the end of World War II. Indeed, Victor Klemperer, whose famous diary I Will Bear Witness, was one of them. He even survived the bombing of Dresden. Most of those that survived were, like Klemperer, usually Jews by racial definition, who were protected by non-Jewish spouses, although a few managed to stay in hiding. The vast majority of the 6 million to which Vox referred were residents of conquered nations under military occupation.

Point three: Besides apparently not knowing that German Jews made up a relatively small proportion of the Jews “gotten rid of” by the Germans, Vox seems intentionally to neglect to mention how the Germans “rid themselves” of 6 million Jews in less than four years. it was mainly by murder, either through intentional overwork and starvation, shooting, hanging, or gas chambers. It began in conquered Poland in late 1939, when the Germans started rounding up Jews and restricting them to ghettos, where they lived in appalling conditions, looting their property and murdering many. Disease and starvation ran rampant, and eventually the Germans decided to “liquidate” the ghettos in 1943. Meanwhile, after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Einsatzgruppen mobile killing units roamed the countryside, rounding up and shooting Jews and perceived political enemies by the thousands, adding approximately 1 million to the death toll of the Holocaust. In 1942, the killing accelerated, with the construction of dedicated death camps and concentration camps that also had a components that served as death camps. Eventually, the Germans turned their attention to rounding up the Jews in the rest of Europe, including Italy, France, Hungary, Denmark, and other nations, and sending them to the East for extermination.

That‘s how Germany “rid itself” of six million Jews–by systematic deportation to places where they murdered the Jews expelled from their homes. Funny how Vox didn’t see fit even to mention in passing the part about murder. (He also neglected to mention that an addition 5 million or so non-Jews also were killed by the Nazis.)

I suppose on a strictly hypothetical basis, it is possible to round up 12 million illegal immigrants and deport them in a few years, but the example that Vox chose undermines his argument to the point of irrelevancy. The Nazis weren’t concerned with due process or civil rights. We are. In the beginning, they didn’t care how many Jews died as they were deported, and at the end they were intentionally killing them when they arrived at their destination. The vast majority of Jews deported and murdered were the subjects of conquered nations under military rule, and those who weren’t were subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship whose citizenship and civil rights had been intentionally stripped away by Hitler. I doubt that even the most dedicated enemy of the Bush administration seriously believes that the U.S. could descend into such depths of barbarism in a mere few years, barring an almost unthinkable catastrophe.

Point four: One has to wonder why Vox chose that particular example. In the comments some defended Vox (and Vox defends himself) by stating that he was only arguing that it can be done. OK, it can be done. So freakin’ what? Leaving aside the murders committed by the Nazis, though, let’s look at what it took them to achieve the feat of evicting millions of what they considered their racial enemies from their homes in the conquered territories of the Reich. It took a ruthless military occupation by millions of troops, a dictator holding a racialist ideology that viewed Jews as the implacable enemy of the German people, was dedicated to “cutting out the cancer,” and who happened to have the absolute control over his military forces necessary to carry out such a program–even at the expense of diverting desperately needed troops and rail transport away from the fighting and to the task of extermination as the Germans were being beaten back by the Red Army.

Presumably, if there were a historical example of a mass deportation or involuntary relocation of several million people accomplished in a few years that didn’t involve at the minimum brutality, bloodshed, and wholesale trampling of the most basic of human rights, I’m guessing that Vox would have used it instead. He couldn’t–or wouldn’t. By his choice of examples, though, by the implied threat behind his example, Vox joins so many others on the far right in using eliminationist rhetoric, this time with a “nudge, nudge, wink wink.” After all, Vox was only arguing that it’s “possible” to deport 12 million in eight years. The implication behind his example, however, is that it’s also “possible” to emulate the Nazis further and build a machinery of death waiting at the end of the deportations.

In reality, though, as PZ notes, being the good “Christian Libertarian” that he is who doesn’t want to see the unbridled state power that the mass deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants would require, Vox seems to have some bizarre fantasy idea that, if we just change the laws to strip illegals of their rights and impose immediate deportation upon discovery and put in place the apparatus to start the mass deportations, magically many would flee, and private citizens like the Minutemen would take care of the rest:

A fence is not necessary, for there are other means of efficiently resolving the problem without resorting to such an obviously dangerous measure. Instant deportation policies, employer fines and bounty programs combined with the denial of all social services to non-citizens would suffice to settle the matter without the need to imprison the American citizenry. As the Minutemen have proven, again, unleashing the power of motivated private citizens is far more efficient than relying on government bureaucrats.

Of course, Vox also neglects to mention that stirring up private citizens to act against the group a government wants to deport is also a page out of the Nazi playbook. To continue on Vox’s apparent desire to show that Nazi methods to deal with the immigration problem are “possible,” remember the Nuremberg Laws or Kristallnacht?

We all know how all that turned out, don’t we?

At least I do. I’m not so sure about Vox. There is, of course, the possibility that he’s just intentionally picking the most inflammatory example he can just to stir people up, bad historical analogy or not, in which case his choice of historical analogies says a lot about him. However, what scares me is the possibility that maybe Vox does know how that all turned out, and that’s the idea.

ADDENDUM: Even Captain Ed is getting on Vox’s case over this:

Vox likes to take controversial positions, but this is just reprehensible. The Germans “rid” themselves of six million Jews by annihilating them through industrialized mass murder. In fact, a great many of them weren’t German at all and never spoke German or were assimilated into German society. A great deal of them were Poles, Russians, French, and so on, an inconvenient fact that renders his point moot. And how exactly did the Germans accomplish this feat that Vox finds so exemplary? They transformed Europe into a racist police state from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave S.
    May 16, 2006

    If we want to see what an enforced deportation would look like under American laws all we have to do is check out what happened during the relocations of the native peoples such as the Georgia Cherokee. The US government promised the state government in 1802 that the 17,000 Cherokee would be removed. Because of legal (the Cherokee faught all the way to the Supreme Court) and political (some leading politicos like Daniel Webster and Henry Clay were opposed) maneuverings, this was not actually done until 1838.

    With disasterous results anyway.

  2. #2 TheProbe
    May 16, 2006

    I get several newsletters from groups concerned with the rise of hate groups in the US. Over the past six months, or so, I have noticed that the “traditional” hate groups have donned the cloak of being ‘anti-immigration’ with an alarming degree of success. A recent KKK cross burning in Alabama drew 300 people, when it would normally have drawn less than 30. There are more…

    There has been what seems to me a rise in anti-immigrant activities, legal and otherwise, which draw more and more people. The illegal activities include assaults, grafitti, etc.

    The more I read the rhetoric of the anti-imigrants, the more I get that queasy 1930’s German feeling.

    Oh, and I use ‘anti-immigrant’ because some of the loudest ones are merely using the mantra of ‘illegal immigrant’ to cover their real positions.

  3. #3 Barry
    May 16, 2006

    Orac, Vox Day likes nazi insinuations; I doubt that it’s just a coincidence that he picked the Holocaust.

  4. #4 Dave S.
    May 16, 2006

    And it seems that Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math is wondering where Vox (whom he refers to as a “miserable walking shitbag”, but I think he meant that in the nicest possible way) gets his stats from.

    Good question.

  5. #5 Prup aka Jim Benton
    May 16, 2006

    The Probe:
    American hate groups, from Jedediah Morse, through the Anti-Masons andKnow-Nothings, through the Anti-Semites both of the late nineteenth Century and the Thirties, through the KKK (most obviously the ‘second Klan’ of the twentites and thirties which joined forced with the American Nazi movement and was as anti-Semitic as Anti-Black) through the McCarthyites have always been ‘anti-foreign’ — whether that ‘foreign’ meant ‘ideas’ or ‘people.’ The hate groups are merely returning to their roots, if they ever left them.

  6. #6 DouglasG
    May 16, 2006

    Another thing that gets lost in this, is all of the Spanish Speaking people who are here legally. Does he give a bear’s behind how many innocent American Citizens get swept up in his illegal immigrant purge? (The answer of course is “no” as long as they’re Hispanich and not “white”)

  7. #7 Sailorman
    May 16, 2006

    You know, it’s a pity.

    It’s a pity that we can’t have at least a theoretical argument about this without traipsing into idiocy.

    Vox is an idiot.

    However, many people claim it would be “impossible” to (for example) physically remove a vast majority of the illegal immigrants currently in residence here.

    Are they idiots as well? Possibly. (note: “can” is not “should”). I’d like to know what’s possible and to talk about it, without being accused of being a nut job.

  8. #8 Sergey Romanov
    May 16, 2006

    Orac, a little point which does not diminish your argument – from the EG documents alone “only” about half a million deaths can be established, most of the Jews (cf. Benz and Wetzel’s report, to which you probably have access as THHP member). Of course, some deaths weren’t accounted for in the reports, and there were lots of other murdering mobile units (like police battalions).

    Also, “5 million non-Jews” is an incorrect meme (depending on how you define genocide, the number is either way too low or way too high; cf. Deborah Lipstadt’s 5th reply here), and it will be addressed later at our blog ;-)

  9. #9 jre
    May 16, 2006

    Now, what, I wonder, would be Theodore Beale’s worst nightmare? And, for that matter, who would be more deserving of a worst nightmare than Vox Day? Hmmm … well, we know he hates women, and now immigrants are on the list, not to mention welfare-state liberals and druggie youth culture .. Wait! I have it!

  10. #10 Cath
    May 16, 2006

    Isn’t Vox in Italy at the present
    Cath

  11. #11 Orac
    May 17, 2006

    Sergey: E-mail me off blog.

  12. #12 Orac
    May 17, 2006

    However, many people claim it would be “impossible” to (for example) physically remove a vast majority of the illegal immigrants currently in residence here.

    Are they idiots as well? Possibly. (note: “can” is not “should”). I’d like to know what’s possible and to talk about it, without being accused of being a nut job.

    Strawman argument. We don’t claim it is “impossible.” We state that it is totally impractical (and it is) and would require a commitment of resources and a brutalization of our nation that none of us wants, other than nutjobs. The fact that the best analogy Vox could come up with was the Nazis ought to tell you all you need to know.

  13. #13 Kiwiwriter
    May 17, 2006

    What’s interesting to me is that this little extrusion by Mr. Pringle shows how Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis are obsessed with the very thing they deny and minimize. The fact of the matter is that they know the Holocaust happened.

    If the Holocaust didn’t happen, they would be admitting that the Nazi state was a weak one, easily manipulated by its underhanded enemies and defeated by its open ones. It would be admitting that the Aryan race is incapable of defending itself against its enemies, real or imaginary. They need the Holocaust to happen, so that Nazism in all its forms can maintain its pwoer and grip, and their own connection to an important force.

    What really upsets the neo-Nazis is how the Holocaust is told. They are enraged that it is a tale of brutal mass murder and kleptomania, all run in a highly organized and bureaucratic manner. They want it to be told as a heroic Aryan people rising as one behind their noble Fuhrer, to rid civilization of the conspiratorial infestation that has plagued it for generations…cleansing moneychangers, criminals, and pornographers from the temple. They want to make the killers into heroes and say the victims got what they deserve.

    I think that’s more sickening than denying the Holocaust happened.

  14. #14 coturnix
    May 17, 2006

    There are so many good responses to VoxDay around (your being the best IMHO), we could have a whole issue of the Carnival of Bad History devoted just to this paragrah of his.

  15. #15 Orac
    May 17, 2006

    The firestorm over his article has led me to write a followup. Look for it tomorrow. ;-) Vox ads more bad history. For instance, he claims that there was “very little violence” in the Holocaust.

  16. #16 s
    May 18, 2006

    “Strawman argument. We don’t claim it is “impossible.” We state that it is totally impractical (and it is)

    Um, a priori argument? Though I am a liberal (and FWIW a Jew who is horrified about the Holocaust comparison) I can’t concede this fast.

    Isn’t the practicality what we’re discussing? Sure: If you assume it’s impractical then no, we shouldn’t do it.

    and would require a commitment of resources

    Hmm. Rounding every last person up via police would require an immense resource drain. I’m curious, though, as to what percentage you think could be effectively deported WITHOUT a large resource drain.

    Acheiving theoretical perfection (“no illegals left” is ludicrously expensive, as we can see with crime. However, acheiving a significant improvement (“the majority of them deported” or “the vast majority of them deported”) is much sheaper–again, as we can see with crime.

    and a brutalization of our nation that none of us wants, other than nutjobs.
    Ad hominem attack. (I admire your posts too much to let this one slide).
    I don’t like Bush, I don’t like the administration, and I don’t like brutalization. However, I also don’t like illegal immigration. I am intelligent enough to see that you can have a balance of these things: you don’t NEED to be brutal to have a big effect.

    The fact that the best analogy Vox could come up with was the Nazis ought to tell you all you need to know.

    It doesn’t. Vox is an idiot. Shall I cite you a link of some more intelligent people who share my point of view? Or shall I begin to attack your position by associating you with any fool who shares it?

    You think it’s impractical? Let’s talk.

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