Thursday, April 12, 2012

Speak roughly to your Bolter, he only does it to annoy because he knows it teases ...

(Above: oh hell, it's Friday, so why not a little frivolity?)

So why the frivolity?

Well for starters there was Cardinal George Pell in hot water with the Jews, as explained in Cardinal apologises for describing Jews as intellectually inferior. No doubt Greg Sheridan is standing by in the lizard Oz ready to berate the Jews for failing to understand what an intellectual giant Pell is.

Then by curious mischance, the pond stumbled on Andrew Bolt again - that's twice in a week, enough already - and read Hitler escapes atheist's arguments.

If the paywall intervenes, and you truly rooly want to read the Bolter, and googling the header doesn't get you there, try googling this opening sentence:

Richard Dawkins is the world's most famous professional atheist, so it's strange he's so wrong about Hitler. How could a great atheist not recognise another despiser of Christianity?

Yes, it's the dolt turning his attention to history, and you can see why he offered up so many howlers while attempting to debate the question of people identifying as black, and motivations attached thereto.

Now the question of Hitler's relationship to Christianity is complex, and so - if you look at the role of the churches during the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power - is the question of the complicity of German Christian churches in that rise to power.

It's one of the interesting by-ways of history, and you only have to look at the role that Franz Justus Rarkowski played as a Catholic military bishop in the second world war to feel a deep-seated unease.

Rarkowski was officially consecrated in 1938 as episcopus castrensis, literally Field Bishop of the German Army, and it's worth remembering that he thought Germany had god on its side:

"The Germany Nation has a great duty to fulfill in the face of the Eternal Almighty. Abroad and at home the Fuerher has thanked God that his plea for His blessing for our good and just cause was expressed more than once, and was understood. Certainly, other nations opposed to us pray to God and beg Him to grant them victory. God is, in the same manner, Father of all nations, but He is not, in the same manner, arbiter of justice and injustice, of honesty and mendacity. From reports of field chaplains who were with you on all fronts during the past year, I was able to observe how naturally and joyfully you participated in religious services and received sacrament, not only immediately before battle, but also in the many months when the fronts were quiet. Your Christian faith was everywhere where you, as soldiers, often had to achieve the superhuman, and was a valuable part of your spiritual and moral equipment."

At the start of the second world war, there were 560 Catholic military chaplains beavering away in Nazi Germany, and a similar serving of Protestants. That fat fraud Hermann Göring kept them out of the airforce, but the other branches of the military were happy to know god was on their side.

Now it's quite fair to argue that Hitler was a cynical abuser and user of the church, but it should also be noted that he remained nominally Catholic, always paid his church taxes, and never officially left the church.

So it's really silly billy for Bolt to rely on just a couple of private conversations to prove that Hitler was violently anti-Christian, if not an atheist:

Hitler was indeed violently anti-Christian, if not atheist. Check what he said in private conversations recorded at the time and later published in Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944.

"Socialism and religion cannot exist together ... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew."

October 1941: "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure."

This is of course incredibly convenient to Bolt's desire to denigrate Dawkins - it must be hard to profess to be a non-Christian who still has to trawl for the fundie HUN Christian reader - but it means that any contrary evidence also has to be conveniently overlooked.

And here's the thing. Hitler's rhetoric, throughout his political career, is a jumble of references to god, the lord, heaven, and the great Christian crusade against the Jews:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

So there you go. Bolt delivers one version of Hitler's attitude to the Jews, yet plenty of pro-Christian anti-Jew rhetoric can be found spewing from his lips in other places.

The argument about Hitler's religious beliefs is a side-show to the main game, which is whether god actually exists. It could be argued that by allowing Hitler to make his way through the world, god shows a pretty poor attitude to his creation. Talk about setting the clock in motion and then never getting up when the alarm goes off ...

There are of course plenty of sites on the web where all this is examined in detail. Some people take it way too seriously. Jim Walker, for example, reviewing Hitler's religious beliefs and fanaticism, has trawled through Mein Kampf and come up with pages of references to Christianity, god and the lord (here).

Let's just settle on one, Hitler's prayer:

For this, to be sure, from the child's primer down to the last newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this one great mission, until the timorous prayer of our present parlor patriots: 'Lord, make us free!' is transformed in the brain of the smallest boy into the burning plea: 'Almighty God, bless our arms when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!'

And that of course is what a substantial number of Protestant and Catholic clerics did, in the churches and on the battlefield, while a brave number dissented and were persecuted and died for their beliefs.

As to whether Hitler believed in his prayer, who knows. He was addle-headed a lot of the time, fluctuating like the wind, an inept military strategist, prone to contradictory gestures and thoughts. Like a lot of rhetoricians, in the heat of a speech, he might well have imagined god was on his side, and then after another day of fighting in Stalingrad, imagined that the Jews were in league with the Communists and the Satanists, and there was no god.

It's too flip and simple-minded to write Hitler off as vehemently anti-Christian, giving his vehemently pro-Christian (of a certain kind) speechifying.

It requires too much revision to the written record. Judging belief is always difficult - the pond sometimes finds it hard to imagine that Cardinal George Pell really does think he has the first clue about climate science, or come to think of it, the role of Neanderthals in the evolutionary process. And Pell's reference to Hitler was exactly the same sort of slip he made as the one he made about the Jews.

But that's the Bolter for you. Simplistic and simple-minded. Is there any weighing of the evidence, any signs of the contradictions and complications and tensions arising in Germany, a country which remained largely Christian as it goose-stepped its way to war?

Of course not. It's just another opportunity for point-scoring, as if the point was to score points, rather than to come to some consideration of the complexities of the issues. What happened to Germany in the nineteen thirties was deeply divisive, and just as it's possible to have Christian socialists, it's also possible to have right-wing fascist Christians.

It seems Bolt would do anything to line up alongside Pell, but what does that say about Bolt as a thinker? Let alone as an amateur historian?

Perhaps the Bolter could join in a prayer with Adolf, the one that Hitler delivered in Nuremberg on the 6th September 1938:

“National Socialism is not a cult-movement-- a movement for worship; it is exclusively a ‘volkic’ political doctrine based upon racial principles. In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship... We will not allow mystically- minded occult folk with a passion for exploring the secrets of the world beyond to steal into our Movement. Such folk are not National Socialists, but something else-- in any case something which has nothing to do with us. At the head of our programme there stand no secret surmisings but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief. But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will-- not in the secret twilight of a new house of worship, but openly before the face of the Lord… Our worship is exclusively the cultivation of the natural, and for that reason, because natural, therefore God-willed. Our humility is the unconditional submission before the divine laws of existence so far as they are known to us men.” (here)

By golly, Hitler even disavowed cultism. Who'd have thunk it?

Guess he can't have meant what he said, or said what he meant.

The Bolter and Cardinal Pell must know a thing or two about that ...

Oh enough already, what's the point of reading Andrew Bolt and getting irritated?

Speak roughly to your little Bolter
and beat him when he sneezes
he only does it to annoy
because he knows it teases.
I speak severely to my Bolter
I beat him when he sneezes
for he can thoroughly enjoy
the pepper when he pleases

Hey, it's the weekend. Time to unwind with some melancholy music ...

(Below: the seventies, Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon live on!)


  1. Please find a reference which says all that needs to be said about how right-wing catholics were more than happy to support herr Shicklegruber - because he was prepared to do something about the "problem" of the Jews, and the socialists, the bolsheviks, the bohemian non-conformists etc etc etc.

  2. Indeed. And he didn't even believe in the war on Xmas!

  3. The motto on all standard issue SS belt buckles (a little different in each case)

    Gott mit Uns

    Translation: "God is with us"

    An example from 1SS "Totenkopf" - aka "Deaths Head" - Division

    (Also the Wiki entry)

    'nuff said.

    Bolt is talking crap. Also many biographers point out that Hitler viewed himself as a Christian Knight "protecting" Europe from the "other", from Kershaw through AN Wilson to any number of others.

    It's a commonplace. Hitler may not have been personally very observant but he was definitely from the Christian tradition and regarded Christianity as one of many ideologies - one that he personally favoured, was comfortable with and grew up in. He was not an atheist. Other than when it suited him to spout crypto-Neitzchian slogans.

  4. Thanks JM, interesting links. An equally important question is when Bolt doesn't talk crap. Is there any recorded moment?


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