International Holocaust Day, 2017: Sean Spicer called his critics ‘pathetic’ for informing him that the Holocaust killed Jews. He was calling the kettle black.
Sometimes a White House press secretary’s error is so egregious, so jaw-dropping, so empty of the slightest fact or logic, so beyond any understanding, that a critic cannot even offer the requisite correction, denunciation or satire. One can only throw up one’s hands and say: Move on. Try another job. Get an education. Wake up. Resign.
Just such an error was made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week, revealing both his incompetence and his confusion of inexcusable ignorance with foot-in-mouth disease.
Spicer, trying to point out how terrible Bashar Assad was for gassing innocent human beings, including children, said that even Hitler did not stoop this low.
Putting aside the utter vacuity of comparing Assad, profoundly evil though he surely is, to Hitler — itself a turn of mind that reveals Spicer to be too historically ignorant for his present position — Spicer ignominiously (take your pick):
• never heard of Hitler’s gas chambers at Auschwitz and other concentration camps;
• never knew that Zyklon B was a poison gas and was used as a weapon of mass destruction in Hitler’s camps, or never knew of Zyklon B at all;
• never knew of Hitler’s mobile, poison gas vans;
• never took a course in basic 20th-century history (either that, or never passed the course);
• never acquired the requisite intellectual skills for the position he holds.
Rather, Spicer believes that he made an “insensitive” comment, a mishap for which one apologizes, which he did.
As if people took “offense” at his remark, thus requiring an apology.
As if one could apologize for deep, profound ignorance.
As if Spicer’s error were merely an egregious example of foot-in-mouth disease. Spicer believes that he merely fell prey to an innocent confusion: his intended reference to the use of poison gas in warfare, which, Spicer meant to say, Hitler did not do and Assad did do; and his (Spicer’s) actual reference to Hitler’s not stooping so low as Assad — since only Assad, but not Hitler, used poison gas in warfare.
Clearly, sadly, pitifully, Spicer did not understand that no one took “offense.”
The initial response in those present when Spicer made his remark was not an objection or a remonstrance. Rather, it was a collective gasp. The same as if Spicer had stated that George Washington never lived. The emotion that such a statement elicits is not offense. Spicer’s error eclipsed the category of offense. The emotional response was pity and shock, pity for the utterly out-of-his-depth character of Spicer, and shock that a person could get so high in government without ever having acquired the requisite knowledge and experience.
Does Spicer not know that part and parcel of Hitler’s war was the destruction of the Jews?
Has Spicer never heard of Hitler’s idea of “Lebensraum,” Hitler’s perverse “living space” which the “Aryan race” needed and which the “Jewish race” obstructed, such that the destruction of the Jewish race — via poison gas — was an essential military goal of Hitler, an elemental motivation of Hitler in going to war in the first place?
Does Spicer not know that at the end of WW II, when militarily Hitler was losing, Hitler diverted trains from the front to ensure that the rail lines to the death camps were kept in full operation — that, to Hitler, the war against the Jews and the war against the Allies were interchangeable?
Really, Mr. Spicer, we have no animus, only pity. We find you not offensive, but empty, untenable, astig- matic, incompetent. Totally unread in history.
Should Mein Kampf have been brought back into print a couple of years ago when its copyright expired? The debate was vigorous on both sides. We firmly believe that Mein Kampf should remain in print in order to educate people about what drove Nazism, and about how depraved it was. You Sean Spicer, are one of the people for whom it is important that this manifesto remain in print.
Your job is words. Your job is formulations. Your job is knowledge. For your sake, for our sake, for the country’s sake, for the president’s sake, resign. Go back to school. Get an education. Not a PhD. Not an MA. Not a BA. Just a basic high school education.
Your tenure at the White House needs to be bracketed: 2017-2017.
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