NY Times: Could the Holocaust Happen Here?

Could the Nazis take over America? It’s one thing for the ridiculously incendiary notion to be raised in a major magazine by an aging Hollywood lefty.

It’s quite another for it to be raised by writers for the most powerful newspaper in the world. Twice. In the same edition. I don’t know if The New York Times film reviewers Stephen Holden and Caryn James share notes or simply a distain for the Bush administration, but the each managed to link the administration to Hitler’s Nazis in articles appearing on the front page of the “Arts” section.

In a review of “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” a film about a “smart, idealistic dissenter in Nazi Germany,” Holden doesn’t beat around the bush, asking: “Could it happen here?” Holden writes:

“In a climate of national debate in the United States about the overriding of certain civil liberties to fight terrorism, the movie looks back on a worst possible scenario in which such liberties were taken away. It raises an unspoken question: could it happen here?”

(Can a question printed in one of the most widely-read newspapers on the planet really be described as “unspoken”?) Anyway…if Holden didn’t sufficiently alert readers to the Rise of the Republican Nazis in the U.S., the musings of James in the article directly above it makes the point – again.

Five Oscar Nominees: Foreign, Not Alien” takes a look at foreign films nominated for Oscars. James apparently read from the same press release as Holden:

“And the German drama about a real-life heroine who resisted the Nazis, ‘Sophie Scholl: The Final Days’ [Review, Page 1], focuses on the ever-present issue of resistance rather than on historical details.” [Emphasis added.]

Get it? Resisting Hitler, resisting Bush...only the dates on the calendar have changed. (The helpful reference to Holden's U.S.-Nazi item – “Review, Page 1” – is a nice touch.) She later notes: “In this year of politically themed best-picture contenders like ‘Munich’ and ‘Good Night, and Good Luck,’ the foreign films have a similar urgency.”

“Urgency” is critic-speak for “it explains why certain current politicians need to be voted out of office.”

First, while one could argue that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. muted overt political dissent for some time after, no one can seriously make the claim today. With politicians stumbling over themselves in the race to investigate the government’s terrorist surveillance program, and Hollywood churning out mainstream films celebrating dissent, the charge rings hollow.

Then there is this for anyone who actually needs a reminder: Hitler’s Nazis systematically slaughtered millions of fellow countrymen in pursuit of their political goals. Implying a resemblance between Hitler’s Germany and modern America – which is what these writers are doing – reveals more about the writers than the nation.

Finally, if moviemakers really did want to make a point about government censorship and oppression, a logical topic would be Communist tyranny. It was more widespread, and it is ongoing. But, as George Clooney and others have shown, if you want to be feted by Hollywood, you don’t target Communists, you target the anti-Communists. Why is that? There’s an “unspoken question” for you.