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October 9, 2010

GOP HOUSE CANDIDATE PRETENDS TO BE A NAZI.... I don't generally begrudge politicians' leisure habits. We all have hobbies and various recreational activities we enjoy, and who's to say which leisure pursuit is better than the other?

That said, when a congressional candidate chooses to spend his weekends pretending to be a Nazi, just for the fun of it, there may be a problem. Josh Green had this rather remarkable scoop.

An election year already notable for its menagerie of extreme and unusual candidates can add another one: Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite, who for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments.

Iott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself Wiking, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II. Iott's participation in the Wiking group is not mentioned on his campaign's website, and his name and photographs were removed from the Wiking website.

When contacted by The Atlantic, Iott confirmed his involvement with the group over a number of years, but said his interest in Nazi Germany was historical and he does not subscribe to the tenets of Nazism.

Now, I've heard about Civil War re-enactments, and I'm certainly not inclined to criticize those who "fight" for the South in these make-believe scenarios to be slavery-loving traitors. But Iott dressing up like a Nazi isn't quite comparable.

Indeed, reading Green's piece, it seems Iott and his fellow Nazi re-enactors had a certain admiration for Hitler's Germany, and its fight against "Bolshevist Communism."

In fairness, it's worth emphasizing that the re-enactors' website includes a disclaimer noting that they "do not embrace the philosophies and actions" of the Nazis, and "wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities which made them infamous."

On the other hand, Iott's little troupe also said it exists in part to "salute" the "idealists" and "front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS" and their "basic desire to be free." It also characterizes Wiking volunteers as "valiant men," overlooking the minor detail that they also rounded up Jews to be slaughtered.

Green spoke to one historian who noted, "These guys don't know their history. They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred." Another scholar said, Iott and his buddies have an understanding of World War II that is "so unhistorical and so apologetic that you don't know to what degree they've simply caught up innocent war memorabilia enthusiasts who love putting on uniforms."

Iott is not, by the way, just some weirdo who managed to somehow win a GOP primary -- he's a member of the NRCC's "Young Guns" Program and a party favorite against incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D).

I know Republicans are likely to have a very good year, and will likely even take back at least one chamber of Congress. But I continue to marvel at the caliber of GOP candidates who'll be on the ballot this fall. Win or lose, many of these major-party nominees are a national embarrassment.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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"But I continue to marvel at the caliber of GOP candidates who'll be on the ballot this fall."

It's rather frightening to think about, actually, because some of them will be elected to Congress.

Posted by: pol on October 9, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Remember that incident with Jim Webb's aide and the handgun?

Get ready for a whole lot more of that sort of thing.

Posted by: Blue Girl on October 9, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

An SS officer? SS!!! In Eastern Europe. Oh, no attrocities there.
Uhm, who play the poor Poles, Russians and Jews in their little war games? And, can I vote for that person? I'm sure I'd rather have that person represent me than a guy who likes to wear full-length leather coats and goes goose-stepping for his weekend's entertainment.

Rich Iott - Just one GOOSE STEP away from our House!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 9, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

"...many of these major-party nominees are a national embarrassment."

It pleases me that Benen finally speaks out forcefully about Obama! If we elect a few Nazis, it is ok because they will be fighters against our Socialist, Commie, Black Muslim pretender to the presidency!

If Benen was actually speaking about Republican candidates, remember that we republicans do NOT do embarrassment or apologies! We are at war with the biggest threat to our nation since its founding - the black in the White House. Any tactics are acceptable as the end justifies the means during war.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on October 9, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

-And this fantasy of Iott wearing an SS costume is different in what way, from Senator Vitter wearing diapers?

Posted by: DAY on October 9, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Check out the coverage in the Toledo Blade, the paper in the district where Mr. Iott is running.

"I'm not a Nazi, but I play one on weekends."

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on October 9, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

What does Mr. Iott have for any actual military service? Will he bring any realistic perspective on the issues that effect our veterans? Or will he treat the issues of actual war and combat as the weekend theatrics of these re-enactments?
He is campaigning to be one of the national votes on spending for two ongoing wars and on Pentagon and Homeland Security budgets that have exploded.
JimK

Posted by: JimK on October 9, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK
I'm certainly not inclined to criticize those who "fight" for the South in these make-believe scenarios to be slavery-loving traitors.
Actually, this whole incident has caused me to wonder why I don't have issues with people playing Confederate soldiers. I might be rethinking that. Viewed from a different angle, would you disqualify someone who played a WWII video game and took the side of the Nazis? Things like this are complicated. Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on October 9, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, Iott's little troupe also said it exists in part to "salute" the "idealists" and "front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS" and their "basic desire to be free." It also characterizes Wiking volunteers as "valiant men," overlooking the minor detail that they also rounded up Jews to be slaughtered.


This is no different than the confederates down here who say their great grandaddies never owned slaves and were fighting to protect their freedoms and states rights and...it's all bullshit.

You cannot separate the politics from the war. That people were led to believe they were doing their "patriotic" duty by those in charge is an explanation, not a justification. The history of war is the history of the lower classes being used by the upper classes.

You want to play a Nazi or a confederate in public, fine, just don't ask me to believe they were mostly good guys.

Posted by: martin on October 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Nazis and Confederates are equally offensive. They represent the organized murder, enslavement, and oppression of other people based on the presumption of Aryan or White superiority.

The fact that white people in this country have openly romanticized Nazi/Confederates to the point of doing re-enactments of their activities is horrifying.

Consider the following:

An election year already notable for its menagerie of extreme and unusual candidates can add another one: Rich Idiott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Sharia Party favorite, who for years donned a Al Quaeda style thobe and participated in 911 re-enactments.

Idiott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself I'm Al Quaeda You're Al Quaeda, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Al Quaeda terror cell, which fought mainly in Europe and the United States the during Jihad against the Great Western Satan. Idiott's participation in the I'm Al Quaeda group is not mentioned on his campaign's website, and his name and photographs were removed from the group's website.

When contacted by The Atlantic, Idiott confirmed his involvement with the group over a number of years, but said his interest in Al Quaeda was historical and he does not subscribe to the tenets of Islamofascism.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 9, 2010 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Iott re-enacts and admires the 5th SS Waffen Panzer Wiking division - who crushed the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, whose combat medic was Josef Mengele (until wounded then promoted) and held the primary officers/guards positions at the forced labor camp of Ravensbrueck. But in today's GOP/T-Party world the Nazis are revered - after all they fought for racial purity and believed that "those other people" not like them should either die or be slaves. Yup sounds like the GOP to me.

Posted by: Greytdog on October 9, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Good points, but I take exception to your dismissing the parallel with Civil War reenactors.

I'll grant that many such folk aren't outspoken racists, and most would likely not welcome the return of slavery. But the "Wiking" group also explicitly denounces Nazi excesses. Both groups claim admiration for the idealism and courage of the people they emulate, and for both groups that requires divorcing that idealism from the actual ideals it promoted, and divorcing feats of arms from their goals and consequences. What's wrong in both cases is that the admirers of these long-gone wrongdoers can see the events they obsess over - a war to preserve slavery in America; a war of conquest and genocide across Europe - without seeing what they meant to the victims of the people they honor. And in that they are equally blind.

You don't have to be an overt Nazi to recognize the military prowess of the Nazi forces, and you don't have to be overtly pro-slavery to recognize the courage of the Confederate forces. But you have to be willing to focus just on those selected aspects of organizations and events whose far more salient characteristic was their thoroughgoing commitment to violent destruction of innocent lives by the millions, driven by hideous and inhuman theories of racial superiority. That's a kind of moral insensitivity, a perversion of moral judgment, that is troubling even if it isn't precisely equivalent to frank racism or Nazism in itself. And in respect of that moral failing there is no difference between the Nazi reenactors and the Confederate reenactors.

The glamorization of the Old South and the Confederacy has infected America far more than we like to admit, even among those who are not Confederate apologists. It leads us to turn a blind eye to people like reenactors, pretending that their chosen hobby says nothing about their beliefs or inclinations. (See Tony Horwitz's book "Confederates in the Attic" for a hilarious and sobering corrective.) At least we are not so deluded in the case of Nazi enthusiasts, and hopefully our right and natural revulsion at people like Iott will give us the chance to look more closely at the free pass we have been giving to Confederacy enthusiasts as well.

Posted by: Kevin T. Keith on October 9, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm certainly not inclined to criticize those who "fight" for the South in these make-believe scenarios to be slavery-loving traitors.

why not? the southern confederates were/are traitors and disgusting humans with their slave culture. They should be constantly lambasted as such for their indecency. The southern slave culture is on the scale of nazi Germany and its slaughter of Jews. The southern atrocities should NOT get a sanitized bye?

Posted by: pluege on October 9, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Was not the favorite Leid of the Wikings, "Those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end......we'd fight and never lose, aCh, yes, those were the days, my friends".

Posted by: berttheclock on October 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

In the dying days of the Third Reich, as Hitler and his dramatically diminished band of die hard followers played out the final act of the nightmare that was the Nazi regime in the bunker beneath the Chancellory, the citizens of Berlin (men, women and children with little or no military training) were sent out to face the approaching Russian juggernaut with rifles and single-use anti-tank weapons (Panzerfausts). Those were desperate times, but desperate enough to send this out of shape band of middle-aged extras from "Hogan's Heroes" or "The Producers" ("Can we have the singing Hitlers on the left, and the dancing Hitlers on the right") into action? Probably not.

P.S. When did Mel Brooks become a Republican consultant?

Posted by: broken arrow on October 9, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

...and while you're talking atrocities, the US genocide of 10 million Native Americans, two thirds of an entire culture, and incineration of two entire Japanese cities of hundreds of thousands of people ranks right up there with the nazis too. And there are many more. The US is as dirty as can be, leading the history of man in commission of atrocities.

Posted by: pluege on October 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

What's his campaign slogan? I recommend:
"I know nussing!"

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 9, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Those volunteers from Holland, Estonia, Finland and other countries occupied by Nazi forces were not seeking freedom. They were, in most case, supporters of the 3rd Reich.

Another canard is this rejecting "excesses" by the Wiking re-enactors. Yes, the 5th became an elite fighting force on the Russian front, but, their troops did engage in murdering innocent civilians, as well. These were not simply "excesses". It reminds me of the dustup following a film in Germany which showed that it was not just fanatics from the Einsatzgruppes who killed civilians, but, showed actual photos sent home from Wehrmacht soldiers to their families, showing them smiling while shooting children and older civilians. This became such an issue that Pat Buchanan and George Will wrote articles defending their beloved Anti-Commie forces and they both castigated the film maker. This is no different than RepuGs in the US defending the killers of the infamous Malmedy execution of our soldiers.

Posted by: berttheclock on October 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Wannabee Nazis always use the "good ones" of the Waffen SS ("Hey, they were the SS guys fighting on the front lines, not the SS guys running the concentration camps!") as their way of showing their "admiration."

In fact, the Waffen SS was just as bad as the concentration camp guards. They led the way in committing atrocities on the Eastern Front. They were all dedicated Nazis, mostly recruited from the Hitler Youth. On the Western Front, they were commonly shot out of hand when captured by American GIs or British Tommies, fewer than 20 percent of them making it to a POW camp.

If these guys are "honoring" the "idealists" of the Waffen SS, they are honoring the worst aspects of Nazism.

The Nazi re-enactors are entirely creepy, and are considered such even among the rest of the morons in the re-enactor movement.

Given the emotional and ideological closeness of the American right wing to the Nazis, I find it completely unsurprising this guy would be doing this.

Posted by: TCinLA on October 9, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

REPUBLICANS, Republicans uber Alles.

Meanwhile, it would not surpass me if post election Jan Brewer and the AZ Republicans plan to invite Herr Iott and friends demonstrate the fine techniques used to clear the Warsaw gettto on the "illegal aliens" infesting Arizona cities and towns.

While Attorney General Tom Horne demolishes the Tucson Unified School District for teaching Hispanic studies.

YOU think I am kidding. But these folks are about as cultural lmperialistic as I have ever seen.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on October 9, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I belong to a group which reenacts the exploits of the Inglourious Basterds as depicted in the Quentin Tarentino film of the same name.

We're going to be in Ohio later this month.

We look forward to hunting down the Nazi Republican vermin infesting the United States of America.

How many of these Nazi shithead murderers can be found in the woods in Northwest Ohio? We want to make room on our belts for the scalps of these Jew/Muslim/gay/liberal-burning Wikings.

Should Gauliter Iott abandon his chicken farm to bring the Reich to Capitol Hill, tune in to C-Span next year to check out the voluptuous scar on his forehead for proof that my little weekend play group exists.

Posted by: Countme? on October 9, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

So were those "victims" interred at Bitburg from Das Reich, a Waffen SS Panzer division, involved in a "military" operation at Oradane-sur-Glane?

Bonzo goes to Bitburg said they were victims because they had been forced to fight for Nazism. Kohl said he had escaped from the SS, due his only being 15, but, that a 17 year old had been hanged with the work "Traitor" place upon his body for refusing to join. In the latter days of WWII in Germany, you could be shot merely by putting out white sheets to welcome the incoming GIs. However, the vast majority of Waffen troops had volunteered, from the early days of the invasion of France through the conquests in Estonia and, even the Balkans. So, apt for General Lammerding, the commander of Das Reich to die peacefully at Bad Toltz, the school for SS officers. He served only a pittance for his crimes.

Perhaps the Young Americans for Freedom are "victims" of the Republican Party.

However, as a born and bred Kansan, it really galls me to see revisionist history films made by Eastwood and others depicting the Quantrill killing thugs who murdered the men of Lawrence, Kansas as "victims" of Northern Aggression. "Why, they invaded our beloved homeland". Who fired on the US flag and US soldiers at Ft Sumter, Rebs?

Posted by: berttheclock on October 9, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Geez, with apoligies to Blue Girl for not proof reading before hitting Post. My sixth grade English teacher, somewhere far out there, would not be amused.

Posted by: berttheclock on October 9, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

The Viking Division was made up of volunteers from Scandinavia, the Baltic States, The Netherlands and Belgium. In return for fighting for the fuhr they were promised farmland in the Ukraine after the war was over. And what of the people already living on that farmland? They would either become serfs serving the master race, or be exterminated. Fighting for freedom? Only if you include the freedom to commit war crimes.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on October 9, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'm certainly not inclined to criticize those who "fight" for the South in these make-believe scenarios to be slavery-loving traitors.

Why not? They love to pretend to be slavery loving traitors who hated America and killed more Americans more than Osama bin Laden could ever dream of. Why wouldn't you criticize someone who dresses up as a terrorist? They're free to pretend to be slaves who revolt and kill their cracker masters, but instead they choose not to play the good guys.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on October 9, 2010 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Quick!

Someone pick up the 'TardPhone and alert Jonah Goldberg, the conservative expert in all things fascistic.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on October 9, 2010 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Those volunteers from Holland, Estonia, Finland and other countries occupied by Nazi forces were not seeking freedom. They were, in most case, supporters of the 3rd Reich"

Bullshit. My family came from Lithuania, and some even fought alonside the Germans, not out of love for Hitler, but against the bigger evil of Communism. Since only Hitler was fighting them, they really didn't get to pick allies to defend their own countries from the upcoming Iron Curtain.

They sinply had to choose the lesser of two evils (who killed more people again?).

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