At the Wall Street Journal, Politico Refugee Epstein Plays the 'Hitler' and 'Holocaust' Cards on David Brat

It took less than two hours for leftist media types to imply that voters in VA-07 who ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in last night's Republican congressional primary did so partly because of Cantor's Jewish faith. It took less than 12 hours for Politico refugee Reid Epstein, now inexplicably at the Wall Street Journal, to go after Brat with a misleading headline — "David Brat’s Writings: Hitler’s Rise 'Could All Happen Again'" — which was repeated in the opening sentence. Without presenting any evidence, Epstein also claimed that Brat predicted a "second Holocaust."

Uh, Reid: Adolf Hitler died 69 years ago. David Brat, based on what you presented, was talking about the rise of tyrannies like Hitler's (who was predominantly a leftist; what about "nation socialism" doesn't anyone understand?) — or Stalin's, or Mao's, or Ho Chi Minh's, or any number of relatively petty Eastern European tyrants propped up by Moscow during the Cold War. But an apparent desperate need to get a Hitler reference into a headline about a Republican insurgent ruled the day.


Here's Epstein's opening sentence:

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David Brat, the Virginia Republican who shocked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) Tuesday, wrote in 2011 that Hitler’s rise “could all happen again, quite easily.”

Notice the dishonest placement of the quote marks. Again, Adolf Hitler died 69 years ago.

Now let's get to what Epstein says that Brat actually wrote (produced in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes; italicized text is said to be from Brat's paper; bolds are mine):

Mr. Brat’s remarks, in a 2011 issue of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, came three years before he defeated the only Jewish Republican in Congress.

In his 13-page essay titled “God and Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” Mr. Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., near Richmond, calls both conservatives and liberals hypocritical and wrote that “the government holds a monopoly on violence” because it enforces the law.

But it is the reference to Hitler’s Germany that is likely to turn heads during Mr. Brat’s first full day as a tea party star.

The full context of his second Holocaust prognostication comes in a section about how if Christian people “had the guts to spread the word,” government would not need to “backstop every action we take.”

He writes:

Capitalism is here to stay, and we need a church model that corresponds to that reality. Read Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the weak modern Christian democratic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things happen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actually made people better. Then came the Christians. What happened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit passive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with unified resistance. I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily. The church should rise up higher than Nietzsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong, and do something about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.

Mr. Brat also criticizes both ends of the political spectrum for inconsistencies. He blasts conservatives for the pursuit of individual liberty while pushing laws restricting abortion, gay marriage and gambling. He writes:

Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality. The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise. What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty)

Memo to Reid Epstein: If, as YOU claim, this is "the full context" of Brat's "second Holocaust prognostication," we have a serious problem.

The text above contains no prognostication of a second Holocaust.

The word "Holocaust" isn't even present. You haven't demonstrated that Mr. Brat prognosticated a second Holocaust, a word which has a very specific meaning and historical context involving the religious and ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people. Mr. Brat's text clearly communicates a concern that what "could all happen again" is the rise of totalitarian tyranny. Sadly, there's no shortage of evidence that the U.S. and other parts of the world are headed in that direction. Though a full rise of totalitarian tyranny would likely involve the persecution of disfavored groups, by definition it would not be a "second Holocaust."

On the brave assumption that you spent the $30 involved in getting access to Mr. Brat's paper (or did you unethically piggyback someone else's free account access?), did you even find the word "Holocaust" contained therein? Where did David Brat specifically predict a second religious and ethnic cleansing of all Jews? If it was in the full paper, why didn't you quote it instead of pretending that the text you quoted, which doesn't even contain the word, "prognosticates a second Holocaust"? (By the way, Epstein is not absolved if Brat's full paper contains references to multiple historical atrocities with the Holocaust among them.)

The Journal should seriously reconsider its decision to hire Mr. Epstein. His post is a disgraceful smear which would be bad enough if found at Epstein's old hangout at the Politico. It's completely beyond the pale to see it appear at the Wall Street Journal.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.