I never thought I’d live to see Holocaust denial in a White House press briefing. I’m trying to give Press Secretary Sean Spicer as much of the benefit of the doubt that I can muster, but there’s no way to spin his statement that isn’t horrifying.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a, you know, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” said Spicer, with his usual elegant prose. “So you have to if you’re Russia, ask yourself: Is this a country that you, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with? You have previously signed onto international agreements, rightfully acknowledging that the use of chemical weapons should be out of bounds by every country.”
Except that, yes, Hitler did. He asphyxiated millions of people with gas. He didn’t use sarin; he used Zyklon B. But he certainly used chemical weapons and he used them in calculated, premeditated killings again and again and again.
Spicer got a chance to explain himself a moment later, and he flubbed it again. “I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”
Not on his own people? Well, no, because the Nazi regime didn’t view Jews of any country, Roma, the mentally ill, homosexuals, communists, Slavic people and the disabled as their own people. Only Germans who looked and acted a certain way and had the right kind of ancestors were their own people. No one else was considered a person at all. I’ve never heard this ethical distinction put forth by the staff of the President of the United States before– he just came right out and admitted that he thinks it’s less of a big deal for the government to use poisoned gas to exterminate socially unpopular classes of people, than it would be if the government used poisoned gas to exterminate those who are considered “our own people.” I wonder whom President Trump considers his own people. And I just know that I’m going to get the verbal spanking again for daring to point out any similarities between President Trump and the neo-Nazi leaders who rejoiced when he was elected, but honestly. Who does the president consider his own people? I’d like to know which of us would be safe from a chemical attack if he gets a mind to do such a thing.
Spicer continued to force his foot farther and farther into his own mouth, of course. “I mean, there was clearly, I understand your point, thank you. Thank you, I appreciate that. There was not in the, he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that. What I am saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought — so the use of it. And I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent.”
Let that sink in for a moment, everybody. The press secretary for the President of the United States just blurted out that the victims of the Holocaust were not innocent. All of those millions of men, women and children were not innocent people, or they would have been in a town and not a concentration camp.
The people this man witnessed sent to their deaths were not innocent, according to Spicer.
There is an extremely dangerous assumption I have noticed among many well-off and comfortable people: they assume, without thinking, that people who are imprisoned must deserve it. We shouldn’t fight the death penalty or help drug addicts in prison because they must deserve what they’re getting. They are in prison, aren’t they? Better to help the innocent. That attitude is bad enough. But now we’re hearing the press secretary for the President of the United States take this to an entirely new level. He just casually applied that misguided notion to Holocaust victims in death camps. If Hitler had dropped a bomb containing Zyklon B on people in a town, those victims would have been innocent. But since he used Zyklon B in a so-called “holocaust center,” which is actually called a killing center and which I do encourage you to read about in the embedded link, they weren’t innocent.
Now, you can claim that he just misspoke terribly, but is it really possible for a professional press secretary, a man whose job it is to stand at a podium and explain things to people in the name of the President of the United States, to misspeak this badly even when given a chance to retract his statement? Remember, this isn’t the first time Spicer has dismissed people’s concern about the holocaust. He’s had some time to think about what not to say since then.
But he just claimed that the victims of the Holocaust were not innocent, and he did it on Passover.
He’s either completely stupid or he’s doing this on purpose. Either way, why does he still have a job?
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect has released a statement, which I’d like to share with you all; it expresses my opinion of Spicer’s blathering better than I could.
In his afternoon press briefing, Sean Spicer invoked Adolf Hitler in describing Syrian President Assad. Spicer said “Even Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.” Reaction of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect: “On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death. Spicer’s statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary. Sean Spicer now lacks the integrity to serve as White House press secretary, and President Trump must fire him at once.”
This is an excellent opportunity for the president to convince us he denounces holocaust denial. It’s fine time for him to show us he’s not a bigot. We’re all waiting.
(image via Pixabay)