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Bruce Wilson is co-founder of Talk To Action, an online publication that monitors the Christian Right.
In May 2008 Wilson wrote about a video he compiled of controversial McCain endorser John Hagee’s anti-Semitic speech. His follow up essay at The KailyKos demonstrates how a lone blogger inadvertently altered the course of a US presidential election.
Wilson’s four minute video God Sent Hitler, Jews Have Dead Souls caused a national furor when the mainstream media picked up the story a week later, forcing McCain to reject Hagee’s endorsement.
by this author:
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Hagee Down But Not Out
Although the Kehlsteinhaus, known in English as the “Eagle’s Nest”, is probably a fine place to uncork a thermos and enjoy a piping-hot draught of cocoa, one might think that the recent history of the very name–the “Eagle’s Nest” was commissioned by Martin Bormann and presented to Adolf Hitler as a 50th birthday present–would deter a contemporary, rising American Christian religious leader from giving his blessing at the dedication of a new building to house a ministry which over two decades has existed bearing the historical nickname of Hitler’s personal aeyrie.
But, how Pro-Israel is hagee really ? John Hagee and his Cornerstone Church members sing for the invasion and devastation of Israel, quite literally, hardly a “pro-Israel” behavior and Hagee’s strangely transfigured version of what used to be classic Christian Zionism”doesn’t look at all like Hitler’s Nazi movement, nor does Hagee have Panzers and Stukas, but the Middle East is quite heavily armed and tensions are always high–so Hagee and CUFI don’t really need the heavy armaments. Those are already in place and so one single act of terrorism could set the entire end-times conflict in motion. And, as CUFI Regional Director Billye Brim has pointedly declared in an internationally televised “Believer’s Voice Of Victory” segment, “God’s plan” doesn’t simply happen of its own accord. Humans make it happen. Chirped Brim, to millions maybe, “It takes you“.
In the end, from a functional perspective, Hitler’s envisioned “Final Solution” for Jews and John Hagee’s eschatological vision on the role he expects Israel and Jews will play in the “end-time” apocalyptic drama don’t look all that different and, as observers such as author of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and The Struggle For The Temple Mount Gershom Gorenberg have noted, Hagee’s end-time drama doesn’t end very well for Jews who, in fact, disappear altogether in the third or fourth part of the five-part drama and that’s sobering considering that, for Hagee, CUFI members and Christian Zionists around the world it’s no play at all or, to put it differently as would Shakespeare, all the world’s a stage and the play’s the march of history, towards the long awaited, longed for Apocalypse: and, to make that happen… “It takes you”.
In clinical terms, the loudly and perhaps quite sincerely professed love of Christians Zionists for Jews is not the sort that leads to marriage and more or less happy or at least peaceful or even grudging coexistence. Rather, it’s the sort of love held for a wife by an abusive husband (or vice versa) who beats her and then, when she tries to flee the home and the abuse, shoots her or, to draw the lies more clearly to CUFI, convinces someone else to shoot her.
Pastor John Hagee has repeatedly declared publicly, while more or less simultaneously giving televised lectures on the Book of Revelations, that his and CUFI’s obsession with Israel have nothing whatsoever to do with eschatology and that claim is, technically, impossible to really confirm or disprove but it’s nonetheless plainly absurd and if Hagee truly loved Jews one would think he wouldn’t promote, in such profusion and with such gusto and dedication, classic anti-Jewish stereotypes and slurs. One might also think that Hagee would consider the symbolic implications of putting his stamp of approval on a long-time “Eagle’s Nest”.
As a strict point of fact, Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee won’t be doing that because the “Eagle’s Nest Christian Fellowship” will be changing its name, to “Summit Christian Fellowship”, on the very day Pastor Hagee is scheduled to bless the “Eagle’s Nest” speaking, Saturday June 7, 2008. at the dedication of the [soon to be former] Eagle’s Nest ministry’s vast new 72,000 square foot church complex in San Antonio, Texas. One might guess that the noisily philo-semitic Pastor John Hagee would decline to wave his slightly tarnished wand and confer blessing on the “Eagles Nest Christian Fellowship” simply on the basis of the ministries’ [soon to be] historical name but John Hagee has a split personality, a philo-semitic and an anti-semitic side that coexist within even the same Hagee sermons, in which Hagee’s denunciation of anti-Jewish hatreds often exist alongside Hagee’s promotion of an international banking conspiracy theory remarkably similar to one that can be found in Joseph Goebbels anti-Jewish propaganda film “The Eternal Jew”, in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and distributed broadly and deeply across the American political spectrum, especially on the right, to be found espoused by Nazis, Neo-Nazis, Libertarians, proponents of “Christian Identity” and “British Israelism” religious views and, not least, by Christian Zionists, avowed lovers of Jews and of Israel.
Some of John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church Christian Zionists are probably unaware of the key role conspiracy theories related to the “The Protocols” have played in driving modern anti-Jewish hatreds but a troublesome fact suggests that Hagee and many of his church members may be more, rather than less aware–especially to the extent they thumb through their John Hagee Prophecy Study Bibles:
According to Hagee’s own exegesis of scripture in his own (1997, still sold) “Prophecy Study Bible”, the Biblical scripture from the 2nd Book of Joel, Chapter 2, verses 1-11 which comprises the lyrics of the song “Blow The Trumpet In Zion”, that Hagee’s church members sing at “Night To Honor Israel” events, concerns, writes Hagee in his “Prophecy Study Bible”, the expected, coming and inevitable invasion and devastation of Israel.
Hagee’s church members, rather than expressing philo-semitic sentiment, appear to be singing, with fair frequency, a celebration of a coming war against Jews and Judaism: and to watch them do this it’s hard to escape the impression they’re envisioning themselves as playing a personal role in that.
CUFI leaders, such as CUFI regional director Billye Brim have made that component, to the neo-Pentacostalist, apocalyptic and Dominionist syncretic theological ferment bubbling up within such “Word Faith” ministries as Pastor Hagee’s Cornerstone Church, quite overt. Recently, on a “Believer’s Voice of Victory” broadcast from Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Brim stated that humans can consciously and actively play a role in enacting “God’s [end-tine] plan” – which Hagee, Brim and others claim to know personally–down to every last jot and tittle, every last river of blood and thermonuclear blast.
God needs humans to bring his plans to fruition, declared Brim to the millions who might have been watching the television broadcast, and she summed it up with: “It takes you”. Billye Brim has also said she knows exactly when God, presumably [per Brim’s views – which John Hagee probably shares] acting through human agents will destroy the Dome of the Rock, Islam’s 3rd holiest site on Earth. Billye Brim spoke publicly of the need, according to beliefs of hers which are widely shared among CUFI’s Christian membership, that the Dome of the Rock must be removed –by force one would guess, because the late-7th Century, sublimely elegant and graceful Islamic structure will not simply grow legs and relocate of its own volition.
“God has a plan for that hill,” declared Billye Brim at close the the end of CUFI’s July 18, 2007 “Night To Honor Israel” event at which John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church orchestra and singers had performed a rousing, passionate rendition of their expectation on Israel’s supposedly coming invasion and devastation, by singing “Blow The Trumpet In Zion”. One of the few events that might bring such a horrible fate to pass might be the destruction of the Dome of The Rock–an act which the State of Israel classes as a national security, terrorist threat of the highest order given the widespread expectation that such a destructive act of religious desecration, against the Islamic holy site revered by hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, could trigger regional war or even a world war.
And, for CUFI’s membership, who expect and hope for apocalyptic violence and war, that might be just the point. It’s impossible to say if CUFI’s leaders have any direct connection to apocalyptic fundamentalist Christian, Jewish and Muslim would-be terrorist groups that have been scheming, for decades, to destroy the Dome of The Rock and the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque but even if not CUFI’s leaders clearly egg such would-be terrorists groups on with their rhetoric and with pointed symbolic messages. The original organizational logo for Christians United For Israel features a picture of Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall and Temple Mount from which the Dome of The Rock had been intentionally airbrushed out.
In April of 1945, as WW2 was winding down and allied and Russian armies, racing towards Berlin, chewed through the already mauled and faltering German armies, RAF bombers were sent, in what would have been a purely symbolic blow to the pride of the already crumbling “Thousand Year” Reich, to bomb the Eagle’s Nest but they couldn’t hit the relatively tiny chalet-style structure and and wound up accidentally bombing the local, nearby town of Berchtesgaden.
Given that the planned, methodical bombing and firebombing of German civilians had long been a dubious staple of the British war effort, it’s possible that RAF targeters just rewrote the mission’s imperative ex post facto.
Like the allied bombing of Axis civilians–which postwar studies have shown to have contributed little to nothing to the Allied war effort and which, had such bombing campaigns been carried out with such dedicated ferocity by the Axis powers, would have been prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials along with other Nazi and Japanese war crimes–the bombing attempt on Hitler’s Kehlsteinhaus was in the end purely symbolic : Hitler didn’t actually didn’t seem to like the Eagle’s Nest all that much and by some reports only visited the spot less than a dozen times, belying the relative profusion of photos and footage of Der Fuehrer atop his putative aeyrie, amidst his bustling captains, gazing out across the soaring expanse of sharp mountains and plunging valleys towards an envisioned world conquered, united under a thousand-year Reich purged of Jews, communists, gays, gypsies, troublesome artists and other various cultural subversives, and other societal elements in vogue to demonize and slaughter at the time.
On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Pastor John Hagee is scheduled to speak at a church which until that very day has carried, reportedly for 24 years, a phrase, “The Eagle’s Nest”, that has been since the Eagle’s Nest was built and given as a birthday present to the rising dictator, associated with one of the great mass-murderers of history, a man whose acts shaped contemporary views on the meaning and nature of racial hatreds and who targeted Jews with special ferocity: Adolf Hitler.
Given John Hagee’s career track record and the recent history of Hagee ascent onto the national political stage, as a rising king maker of the Christian right whose vote-getting power has until recently commanded the attention and fealty of 2008 presidential hopeful Senator John McCain, it is probably safe to assume that Hagee is not dumb as a rock or a slab of wood.
Because of John Hagee’s writing, sermonizing and speech against anti-Semitism, it would be next to impossible for Hagee not to be aware of the connotations inherent in a ministry name such as “The Eagle’s Nest”. But, Hagee’s plan to bless the newly rebranded ministry is part of a pervasive pattern, because the [soon to be former] “Eagles Nest Christian Fellowship” is in San Antonio, home also to Pastor John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. Thus, a new, now huge church community that’s clearly theologically aligned with Pastor Hagee’s religious views has been founded, twenty for years ago, and risen up in San Antonio bearing a name associated with Hitler and John Hagee, during that twenty four year span which comprises almost exactly Hagee’s career as a publicly outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism, either did not think to recommend a name change for “The Eagles Nest”, did not speak out against the church’s name, or simply did not care. That, we shall see, is part of an extensive pattern – even as John Hagee decries anti-Semitism in sermons he also promotes, in the same sermons, many of the great anti-Jewish slurs, religious smears and conspiracy theories known to human history.
There was deeper symbolism inherent to the Kehlsteinhaus, to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest atop a rakish five and a half thousand-foot peak in the Bavarian Alps : along with the Roman Fasces, that bundle 0f rods cum-axe used to either slowly bludgeon to death or quickly, mercifully decapitate enemies of the regime, eagles have symbolized fascistic imperial power since at least the time of the Roman Empire. American numismatic artists, A. A. Weinman and others, helped bring the symbol of the eagle–the symbolic fierce bird of prey favored by the Roman Empire, the Austrian monarchs of The First Reich, Mussolino and his blackshirts, the Nazis of the Third Reich and also many Americans–and the thuggish Fasces back into vogue. Eagles on coins proliferated in the early 20th century even as reactionary, anti-communist efforts, backed and shaped by captains of industry and right-wing Christian ideologues, were on the rise. A. A. Weinman put the Fasces on the 1916 Mercury Dime, and two symbols–the eagle and the Fasces–can also be found, along with swastikas, in profusion in the 1930’s-era beaux-arts style United States Supreme Court.
Unlike in Germany, streams of nativist bigotry ascendant in American during the early part of the 20th Century, backlash movements arising in response to immigrant waves flooding in through Ellis Island, did not meet and fuse, as did analogous societal tendencies in Germany of the 1930’s, with the strong-arming, sleek and well ordered fascist cult of trains on time and political foes beaten to submission that was pioneered by Mussolini and elevated to hateful, destructive heights by Hitler’s high priests of state propaganda, by his generals planning Blitzkreig, by their apotheosized Fuehrer gazing out from his Eagle’s Nest aeyrie.
Though the Fasces, the eagle and the swastika coexist on the walls of the Supreme Court building the cultural tendencies they represent that were peaking in America of the 1930’s were soon to ebb; Father Coughlin was pulled off the air and Roosevelt was soon to inspire America, mired in a deepening economic depression, with work programs, symbolic gestures, fireside chats and at least the semblance, but probably much more than that, of a government that cared about average, working American men and women. Hitler’s National Socialism, with it’s car for the working class, the Vokswagen, and plans for state-subsidized vacations for the masses, cared too in its own way but the simple fact is that while Germany had tumbled from shaky Weimar democracy into demogogic authoritarianism, America narrowly, despite it’s penchant for putting eagles and the Roman Imperial Fasces on US coins and federal buildings, escaped such a slide into fascism.
American yearning for the jack-booted, oily black leather and clipped, brutally precise ethos of fascism has never quite gone away though, and an entire generation of Americans born and now grown to adulthood largely lacks a sense of horror and dread of World War Two, a grasp of the savagery and scope of the destruction or the psychic ravaging of those who fought in the war or survived Hitler’s death camps and concentration camps. Stylistic flourishes evoking German fascism pop up in American pop cultural, hastily tamped down in an ongoing whack-a-mole, with regularity and it’s hard to gage exactly whether or not this phenomenon is growing or ebbing but the latter may well be the case.
In the summer of 2007 the governor of California, son of a former Nazi who also (like Hagee) has gone out of his way to support Jewish causes, to the extent of presiding over highly successful fund raising events, appeared on the cover of Time Magazine wearing a custom made belt buckle with a skull and crossbones, and there was considerable debate on the Internet, at the time, on whether or not Arnold Schwarzenegger had appeared on a magazine that’s at least seen if not read by probably tens of millions of Americans, had been captured by Time magazine’s photographers wearing the symbol of the Waffen SS whose ranks were initially built from former Nazi concentration camp guards.
It was not technically true: Schwarzenegger was not in fact sporting the SS Totenkopf, the distinctive art-deco death’s head that subsequently has become popular among fans of Nazi ideology. However, Schwarzenegger’s belt buckle was not some innocent invocation of swashbuckling, comic book pirates from the recent Pirates of The Caribbean film franchise: actually California governor Schwarzenegger had chosen to broadcast, through the Time Magazine cover photo, a death’s head symbol, very closely related to the Totenkopf, which invoked the Austrian monarchy which comprised the First Reich. The cluster of symbols on Schwarzenegger’s custom made belt buckle included the Fleur-De-Lys and the Chrysanthemum, symbols that are associated with the royal line of Austrian monarchy tracing back to Charlemagne and which can be found on display, in the former residence of the Austrian monarchy on display in the treasure room of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, upon the crown of the last Kaisers of the 1st Reich.
Schwarzenegger’s choice of symbols for his belt buckle, his symbolic display to the world, caused some buzz and discussion but the California governor was not censured for showcasing symbols closely related to the Totenkopf even though Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father was deeply associated with Nazism and appeared closely ideologically aligned with the movement’s goals. Gustav Schwarzenegger joined the Nazi Party on March 1, 1938 and he also joined the Brownshirts, the Nazi SA, about six months after the SA instigated Kristallnacht. Gustav Schwarzeneger then went on to join the German military police, the Wermacht, which played a substantial, working with the Nazi Einsatzgruppen, in carrying out the Holocaust in Eastern Europe and Russia:
Without the cooperation of the Wehrmacht, the Einsatzgruppen and the units of Higher SS and Police Leaders would have been unable to realize the mass murder of the Jewish population of the Soviet Union. The Wehrmacht established military administration headquarters in the field and in towns and villages; these headquarters were the seat of executive power in the area as long as a particular territory was under military administration. All such Wehrmacht headquarters were charged with registering the Jewish population of the region, forcing Jewish inhabitants to wear a readily visible mark on their clothing, and concentrating Jews in the ghettos. Besides implementing these anti-Jewish measures, Wehrmacht units were also involved in executions. Numerous commanding officers expressly legitimized the mass murder of the Jews in their daily orders.
Gustav Schwarzenegger is recorded as having left the German military police, from an illness, before the genocidal campaigns of mass-murder truly began but it’s highly unlikely Arnold Schwarzenegger is unaware of his father’s past association with Nazism and although a son is not, of course, guilty or responsible for his father’s sins the question remains: why would Arnold Schwarzenegger choose to broadcast, and in a sense mass-market, a symbol closely associated with a regime and an ideology responsible for the mass murder of millions, for a collective crime that has come to define the very word “genocide” ? The author of the landmark article Dances With Nazis raises the wider context: the spread and apparently increasing popularity of symbols associated with Nazism:
Recently, it has become fairly common place to see people in public, whose dress has symbols that can be associated with Nazism. It is obvious that not all of the people wearing these styles know what the symbolism means, but many do know and use them on purpose, either as a political statement, to provoke others or for both reasons.If you know what to look for, you can see people daily in public in the U.S. and in Europe that are wearing clothes that hint or suggest support of Nazism and/or right-wing extremism.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has also been observed, in a trip to Austria, wearing a death’s-head ring, and that clearly establishes intent. There are many possible reasons Schwarzenegger might choose to display and so promote such symbols but in the end it the the lack of broad or even moderate societal censure, for Schwarzenegger’s choice to display what could be considered fascistic neo-Nazi cultural artifacts before millions of Americans that is truly noteworthy.
Could any nationally prominent US politician of the 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s have gotten away with displaying such fascistic, Nazi or Neo-Nazi symbols ? It is probably safe to say that the Swastika, the Iron Cross, and other symbols invoking the Third Reich, and it’s eliminationalist project–the Holocaust, no longer carry the same sort of cultural stigma as they once did. A few days ago, waiting at a street light in my car, a strange-looking cap on the tire-stem of an adjacent waiting car caught my eye: a tiny chrome Totenkopf, stylistically correct–not the “skull and bones” or some other style of skull but the very skull-and-bones, the Divisional insignia of 3.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division of the Waffen SS
Does philo-Semitism demand sensitivity ? Or can professed philo-Semites declare (and profit off such declarations by selling the sermons in which they say such things) the following ? Here’s a quick roster of professed philo-Semite John Hagee’s ‘greatest hits’, all of which Hagee’s nonprofit church has mass-marketed :
In sum: Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee, founder of “Christians United For Israel”, has for years mass-marketed theological claims that comprise the scaffolding of an overtly anti-Jewish Christian theological system.
Pastor Hagee’s theological views are distinguished from the religious beliefs of overtly anti-Jewish beliefs such as “Christian Identity”, and Christian white-supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups, mainly on the basis of John Hagee’s noisy philo-Semitic pronouncements. John Hagee makes great show of decrying anti-Semitism but even in the very sermons in which pastor Hagee attacks anti-Semitism he makes claims about Jews that trace back to Nazi propaganda, to Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish writings, to the 13th Century outburst of anti-Jewish religious ideas and to the 3rd Century Catholic saint who invented many of the classic anti-Jewish tropes, St. John Chrysostom.
At the root of it all, John Hagee promotes a class of conspiracy theory [ [such as in a March 3, 2003 Cornerstone Church sermon entitled “The Final Warning, The Coming Crash and The New World Order” ] that during the past several centuries has grown up over the backbone of historic, theological Christian anti-Jewish belief, to shape modern anti-Jewish animosity
that there exists a worldwide international banking conspiracy, based in Europe and associated with the Jews and Jewish dynasties such as the Rothschild family, which has Illuminati and Masonic origins and is satanic or doing the work of the devil, which exerts a parasitic financial burden on working classes worldwide through deriving profit from the manipulation of currency values.
That conspiracy theory, also proposed by Hitler, Goebbels and the Nazis, was proposed in Joseph Goebbel’s notorious anti-Jewish film “The Eternal Jew” and also in what has formed, and does to this day, the core of anti-Jewish conspiracy theory, The Protocols of The Elders of Zion.
The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News.
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