June 11, 2014

At the Wall Street Journal, Politico Refugee Epstein Plays the ‘Hitler’ and ‘Holocaust’ Cards on David Brat

It took less than two hours for leftist media types to imply that voters in VA-07 who ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in last night’s Republican congressional primary did so partly because of Cantor’s Jewsh faith. It took less than 12 hours for Poltico refugee Reid Epstein to go after Brat with a misleading headline — “David Brat’s Writings: Hitler’s Rise ‘Could All Happen Again’” — which was repeated in the opening sentence. Without presenting any evidence, Epstein also claimed that Brat predicted a “second Holocaust.”

Uh, Reid: Adolf Hitler died 69 years ago. David Brat, based on what you presented, was talking about the rise of tyrannies like Hitler’s (who was predominantly a leftist; what about “nation socialism” doesn’t anyone understand?) — or Stalin’s, or Mao’s, or Ho Chi Minh’s, or any number of relatively petty Eastern European tyrants propped up by Moscow during the Cold War. But an apparent desperate need to get a Hitler reference into a headline about a Republican insurgent ruled the day.

Here's Epstein's opening sentence:

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David Brat, the Virginia Republican who shocked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) Tuesday, wrote in 2011 that Hitler’s rise “could all happen again, quite easily.”

Notice the dishonest placement of the quote marks. Again, Adolf Hitler died 69 years ago.

Now let's get to what Epstein says that Brat actually wrote (produced in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes; italicized text is said to be from Brat's paper; bolds are mine):

Mr. Brat’s remarks, in a 2011 issue of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, came three years before he defeated the only Jewish Republican in Congress.

In his 13-page essay titled “God and Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” Mr. Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., near Richmond, calls both conservatives and liberals hypocritical and wrote that “the government holds a monopoly on violence” because it enforces the law.

But it is the reference to Hitler’s Germany that is likely to turn heads during Mr. Brat’s first full day as a tea party star.

The full context of his second Holocaust prognostication comes in a section about how if Christian people “had the guts to spread the word,” government would not need to “backstop every action we take.”

He writes:

Capitalism is here to stay, and we need a church model that corresponds to that reality. Read Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the weak modern Christian democratic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things happen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actually made people better. Then came the Christians. What happened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit passive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with unified resistance. I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily. The church should rise up higher than Nietzsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong, and do something about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.

Mr. Brat also criticizes both ends of the political spectrum for inconsistencies. He blasts conservatives for the pursuit of individual liberty while pushing laws restricting abortion, gay marriage and gambling. He writes:

Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality. The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise. What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty)

Memo to Reid Epstein: If, as YOU claim, this is "the full context" of Brat's "second Holocaust prognostication," we have a serious problem.

The text above contains no prognostication of a second Holocaust.

The word "Holocaust" isn't even present. You haven't demonstrated that Mr. Brat prognosticated a second Holocaust, a word which has a very specific meaning and historical context involving the religious and ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people. Mr. Brat's text clearly communicates a concern that what "could all happen again" is the rise of totalitarian tyranny. Sadly, there's no shortage of evidence that the U.S. and other parts of the world are headed in that direction. Though a full rise of totalitarian tyranny would likely involve the persecution of disfavored groups, by definition it would not be a "second Holocaust."

On the brave assumption that you spent the $30 involved in getting access to Mr. Brat's paper (or did you unethically piggyback someone else's free account access?), did you even find the word "Holocaust" contained therein? Where did David Brat specifically predict a second religious and ethnic cleansing of all Jews? If it was in the full paper, why didn't you quote it instead of pretending that the text you quoted, which doesn't even contain the word, "prognosticates a second Holocaust"? (By the way, Epstein is not absolved if Brat’s full paper contains references to multiple historical atrocities with the Holocaust among them.)

The Journal should seriously reconsider its decision to hire Mr. Epstein. His post is a disgraceful smear which would be bad enough if found at Epstein's old hangout at the Politico. It's completely beyond the pale to see it appear at the Wall Street Journal.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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3 Comments

  1. I really hope that paper isn’t by Brat, as I find it troubling in so many ways. He says Christians need to stand up and fight for what is right but then criticizes conservatives for passing laws on abortion and homosexuality? Talk about inconsistency and hypocrisy.

    I even find the very title of the essay inflammatory, capitalism is not just about money, it’s a system of freedom and opportunity of which money is a large part of the end result of all that but only a part. (And not even the most significant part, IMHO.) It is not merely “Advanced Mammom.”

    And the part about supposed conservative hypocrisy is absurd. Ignoring the side issue that all laws, “secular” or otherwise, are an enforcement of morality in one way or another, conservative legislation on abortion and gay marriage have nothing to do with curtailing “individual liberty”. Abortion is a form of murder, not a matter of individual liberty. Next Brat will say laws against thievery and adult homicide is conservative coercion by forcing the Ten Commandments on people. And I find it really troubling for a supposed Christian to have such a detached and hands off view on the right of the unborn to live. Gay marriage is also not about “individual liberty”, if marriage was merely a matter of individual freedom than marriages based on incest, bestiality, and polygamy would all be legal and okay. Marriage is a societal institution, and thus can’t be defined and dictated by every individual whim, there have to be standards and definitions via law, or the institution becomes meaningless and ceases to exist. As for gambling, I have no idea what he means, anti-gambling is not a part, major or minor, of the GOP or even any conservative of substance’s platform or beliefs that I know of, and if he is referring to laws restricting casinos and such, that is hardly an infringement of individual liberty, but more of a public and community issue and such decisions are done everyday by local communities on virtually everything, not just casinos.

    Also, he makes a specific list of things conservatives supposedly want to “force” their “teachings” about, but for libs all he can do is cite some vague and broad coercion in regards to funding social programs? Okay, that’s true, vague and broad as it is, but where is the mention of liberals forcing their own beliefs in everything from what we can eat, what we can drive, what light bulbs we can use, and whether we can worship in public or not? Why do conservatives merit specifics while libs get a minor in comparison slap to the wrist?

    If Brat is really a conservative, and this paper is really his, well, he sure seems to talk and think like a liberal. Maybe we’d have been better off with Cantor instead. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

    P.S. It’s telling that Epstein did find something of significance, but completely misses where the the significance is, and instead focuses on something completely trivial and erroneous.

    Comment by zf — June 11, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

  2. I also should mention that if gay marriage becomes legal, than for sake of consistency and the rule of law people who oppose it and/or find it immoral would be forced to recognize it and support it. Funny how Brat does not seem to find that coercive or an imposition of personal morality at all.

    Comment by zf — June 11, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

  3. zf, I think Brat is saying that right ought to acknowledge that “individual rights and individual liberty” have limits, and that the ability to kill a baby, gamble your family’s life savings away and engage in behavior civilizations have considered aberrant for millennia are on the wrong side of that “individual rights and individual liberty” line.

    Otherwise, he wouldn’t be strongly prolife to the point of being accused of “church-state fusion” by the likes of Business Insider’s Henry Blodgett.

    Comment by Tom — June 11, 2014 @ 10:34 pm

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