Thursday, November 06, 2003

BLOOD 'N' GUTS REDUX. After yesterday's rousing column, I thought General Ralph Peters' minders would have insisted on a week of bedrest for him at least. Yet here he is again with an even more enraged article. For if there's one thing that gets Peters' goat worse that Iraqis firing on Americans, it's Germans.

Peters has had this bee in his helmet for some time -- here, for instance, he tells us that Germans are loud and smell bad. But now the General has an excuse, sort of: a German general named Guenzel got caught passing some anti-Semitic remarks.

Guenzel was summarily fired, and denounced by the Chancellor, but Peters insists that "millions of Germans" also hate the Jews -- in fact, to hear Peters tell it, all citizens of Germany hate Jews:

There are good Germans. Plenty of them. But they live in Philadelphia, not Frankfurt. They and their ancestors all left Germany by 1938. Those who stayed didn't just support Hitler - they loved him and fought for him to the bitter end...

The whopping difference between the Allied occupation of Germany and our occupation of Iraq is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis welcomed their liberation. We had to force freedom and democracy on the Germans at gunpoint.

They'll never forgive us...

Right off the bat, this prompts a question: do German Jews, being German, also hate Jews? But we know better than to interrupt the General.

On he rages, explaining that a lot of the universal anti-Semitism of Germans is craftily hidden: "Oh, sure, making anti-Semitic remarks is a crime in today's Germany. But anti-Israeli remarks are just fine. You've merely got to choose your words carefully."

Of course, stateside we are well-used to this mad idea that criticism of Israeli policy = the blood libel. But why would anti-Semitic Germany have such notoriously strong laws against anti-Semitic speech -- and try so hard to get the rest of the world to follow them? Shouldn't they instead be pushing a free-speech line, in hopes that their children may one day be allowed to watch Jud Suss and yell ethnic slurs?

Again, there's no containing the General. His conclusion: we must boycott Germany as we boycotted France. "The boycott of French wine sent a strong message," avers Peters. Well, considering that, as Reuters reported, "Americans overtook Germans as the biggest spenders on France's Bordeaux wines in the 2002-03 sales year," that message must be that Americans are too fucking self-indulgent to stage a decent boycott.

I was at first disposed to declare Peters mad. He has all the attributes of a lunatic: he has strongly fixed ideas about people that experience cannot dispel, he takes chimeras for hard facts, and he is in a perpetual state of rage. But I haven't shaken the feeling that perhaps Peters is playing a different game: maybe he's just deliberately inattentive to facts and reason, not because he's nuts but because he's aware that his function is to stimulate anger at selected enemies rather than rational debate.

The "either evil or crazy" formulation, though, I could live with.

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