the cinematic travest)’ with an ideological warning against thernfilm’s presentafion of historical events and racial stereot’pes, arnnew regime was taking shape, hi the anti-Sonthern/anti-Americanrnworld in which we find ourselves, the memorable performancesrnof Hattic McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen wouldrnconstitute hate speech, and Selznik, Victor Fleming, MargaretrnMitchell, and Clark Gable would ver- likely stand trial for perpetratingrna thoughtcrinie.rnAvisitor from 1960 might fliink he had lost his mind if someonerntold him that here in America a citizen could be finedrnand imprisoned for expressing a prejudice, fliat a misdemeanorrncould be promoted to a felony if flie criminal could be shown tornhave been motivated by racial, religious, or sexual bigotry.rnPA’CU New Republic/Weekly Standard liberals—and God knowsrnfliese are people who have spent their cnHre lives injectingrnnovocainc into flieir frontal lobes — even liberals are uncomfortablernwith the overcriminalizafion of thought and expression.rnOvereriminalization and excessive punishment for certainrnclasses of crimes arc a clue to understanding this and ever)’ t’pernof regime, hi the Middle Ages, for example, parHcularly in areasrnwhere the Church exercised strong political influence,rnhcrcsv and dissent could be treated as veiy serious, even capitalrncrimes — a fact which would have astonished Greek and Romanrnpagans. Although the “crimes” of the hiquisition havernbeen grotesquely exaggerated bv the anti-Cafliolic propagandarnwe call histor)’, medieval Chrisfians were serious about flicir religion,rnregarding it as the foundation of their moral and socialrnlife and punishing deviations from it much as honeybees stingrnto death flie dcfcchvc member of flic hive who improves uponrnriie bee dance.rnReligion — and 1 include even the false anti-religion ofrnMarx—is not the only ideological basis for a regime. In Florence,rnwhere class warfare was the dominating principle, anrnaristocrat who slapped (even jusfifiably) a commoner could incurrnfines that exceeded his entire estate, and the liability for paymentrnextended to his cousins and uncles. If the Florentinesrnreallv wanted to punish someone, they simply declared him noble,rnmuch as Walter Williams and Clarence Thomas, for theirrnopposition to fliis race-based regime, seem to have been declaredrnvirtual whites.rnFaigland vent flirough a scries of phases. In the MiddlernAges, flic shrine of Thomas of Canterbuiy was the chief desfinationrnof Christian pilgrims. In ‘i’udor England, when a seriesrnof thug monarehs were consolidating their power over thernchurch and flic economy, flic principles oipraemunire and lesernmajeste were invoked to eliminate — literally—anyone unwisernenough to consult the pope on theolog}’ or crificize the king (orrnqueen), and the shrine of St. Thomas, which had been the visiblernsymbol of flie church’s power to limit tyranny, was brokenrnup. Bv the I8tli century, however, when capitalism had replacedrnflie divine right of kings, there were hundreds of capitalrncrimes in P’.ngland, most of them having to do wifli propert}’.rnWliv belabor flie point? In each ease, the power base of thernregime is virtually defined by flic overeriminalization of actsrn(and riioughts) which would be punished lighfly, if at all, in anoflicrrnsociet}-. Defenders of Henry VIII or Robert Walpolc or N.rnI.euin will always find other reasons for admiring theirrnregimes —flic dignit}- of flie Anglican prayer book, a boomingrneconomy, flie enfranchisement of flic poor—but the core of fliernregime is whatcxer it overproteets.rnThe Third Reich is a case in point. Nearly everv’ monfli, I receiverntwo or three hysterical cards from American brownshirts,rninsisfing fliat the Fiihrer was simply a patriotic German who didrnnot really persecute the Jews. It goes wifliout saying that manyrngood Germans found plausible reasons for supporting the Nazisrnagainst the communists, but what sort of patriohc regime deprivesrnits own citizens of libert}’, propert}-, and life on the basisrnof a race-riieor’?rnNazi apologists argue that Hitler was responding to excessivernJewish influence over German institutions. If that were reallyrntheir concern, the Nazis might have followed the example ofrnearlier antisemitic rulers who persecuted or expelled pracficingrnJews, along with any converts they suspected of duplicit)’. Somernhalf-Jews, it is true, did remain in Germany; some, even, werernfound wifliin flic ranks of flic Nazi Party. However, the Nazisrnwere not interested in Judaism as a religion but as a race, andrnthey punished even c[uarter-Jews whose parents and grandparentsrnhad converted, often sincerely, to Christianitv.rnNo, flic Nazi regime was defined by its obsession with racernand nation, and Slavs no less than Jews had to be eliminated, exceptrnas a source for slave labor. To describe flic Third Reich asrnmerely “antisemitic” is a slur on anfisemites.rnHitier’s regime in Germany was at least as evil as flie Bolshevikrnregime under Lenin and Stalin, but such an ecpiationrnsounds mildly subversive in a eountiy where one component ofrnthe reigning idcologv’ is the holocaust, transformed from histor}’rninto a myrii which has displaced the realit}’ of millions of Jews,rnPoles, Gypsies, and Catholic priests murdered by the Nazis andrnwhich, for many American Jews, has also displaced (as JacobrnNeusncr has observed) the authentic religion of Judaism. It is arnmyth, not because flic Nazis did not kill a great many people,rnbut because flic meaning of those terrible years has been twistedrnand distorted into a weapon to destroy every real and goodrnfliiug in the traditions of I’airopean and American Christendom.rnThis point was driven home to me when I was ser’ing on arnDepartment of lulucation panel fliat reviews curriculum projectsrnto determine flieir suitabilitv’ for flic USDOE seal of approval.rnOne of flic projects given to niv panel was a holocaustrncducafion unit wifli flic fifle (as I recall), “Facing Histon.’ andrnOurselves.” Even more than flie enormous errors of historicalrnfact and interpretation fliat were being fed to middle-school students,rnwhat really appalled me was flie assessment of blame. Afterrnreviewing flic materials, I got flic impression that the realrnguilty parties were the (German people, Martin IjUthcr, thernpope, and, ulfimately, Jesus Christ, who founded the religion ofrnanfisemiflsm. The National Socialists got off eomparafivcly unscathedrn—perhaps because flicy were, after all, socialists.rnThe significance was clear to me. The propagators of thernnew religion of flic holocaust are not actually interested in flicrnsufferings of the Jews but in the destrucflou of every good fliingrnfliat can be tarred with flie Nazi brush: 1 .utheran and CafliolicrnChristianit}’, patriotism and flic affection for one’s own peoplernand traditions, conventional moralitv, traditional art and literature.rnLeo Strauss called it the rediictio ad Hitlerwn. If Hifler likedrnneoclassical art, that means that classicism in every form isrnNazi; if Hifler wanted to strengthen flie German family, fliatrnmakes the traditional fiimily (and its defenders) Nazi; if Hiflerrnspoke of flie “nation” or flie “folk,” then any invocation of nationalit}’,rncflmicit}’, or even folkishncss is Nazi; and alflioughrnsome leftist Jews who exploited the holocaust tried to exemptrnflieir own religion and traditions from flie rules they were set-rnMAY 2000/11rnrnrn