THE alienated left-intelligentsia invariably enjoys a comfortable life in Western societies.
Unable to complain with any credibility about personal oppression, members tend to express embarrassment about their society in general and/or seek to rationalise the actions of its declared enemies.
So it came as no surprise that when Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize for his novelThe Narrow Road to the Deep North, he restated his mantra: “I’m ashamed to be Australian.”
The reference was to climate policy in this instance but, in his book The Unknown Terrorist, Flanagan exhibits a certain ambivalence to terrorists. Flanagan is a green-left type. He admires David Hicks (who once boasted he was “well trained for jihad”) but opposes Tony Abbott, who has committed Australian forces to support Iraq– against the Sunni Islamists of Islamic State.
On October 5, I appeared with The Saturday Paper’s Mike Seccombe plus others on the ABC’s Insiders program. Seccombe criticised the Prime Minister’s statements about Islamists. Abbott’s comments were directed at his government’s policy of attempting to prevent radical Sunni Islamists departing Australia with the intention to kill Shia Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
Seccombe’s position was that the Prime Minister exaggerated the threat of Islamic State fighters to Australia and Australians. He alleged Abbott is “clearly conflating a small handful of allegedly Islamic — but really, you know, not; they’re Islamic in the same way the Nazis were Christian, right?”.
No. Wrong on all points. Those who have joined Islamic State are avowedly Islamic. Moreover, they plan to establish a Sunni caliphate ruling in accordance with sharia law. Seccombe may claim the members of Islamic State are not Islamic but that is not how they view themselves. His approach is an attempt to distance Islam from Islamist extremists.
Then Seccombe threw the switch to moral equivalence. Hence his line that the “Nazis were Christians”. In fact, the Nazi movement was a secular organisation that advocated paganism. An example of the Nazi mindset is provided in Robert Wistrich’s documentaryGood Morning, Mr Hitler! and his book Weekend in Munich: Art, Propaganda and Terror in the Third Reich.
Wistrich’s work covers the Day of German Art festival organised by the Nazis and held in Munich in July 1939, shortly before World War II.
The festival opened on July 16, 1939. It was attended by such German leaders as Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Robert Ley, Adolf Wagner, Joseph Goebbels and Albert Speer. The moving pictures and still footage of this event depict a pagan festival replete with Nazi secular symbols, including the pre-Christian symbol insignia of the swastika. There was no reference of any kind to Christianity.
When I mentioned to Seccombe on-air that Nazism was a secular movement, he was none too impressed. During a break in the program, while a video clip was shown, I commented that Pope Pius XI had condemned Nazi Germany in a papal encyclical in 1937. Seccombe looked at me as if I had made this up. In such discussions, a little bit of historical knowledge can be helpful.
It’s true that, in 1933, the Nazi regime signed a concordat with the Vatican. This was intended to preserve the rights of the Catholic Church under the new regime. However, once the Nazis began to establish themselves in power, they moved against the Catholic Church along with most Protestant churches.
It is well known that in 1937 Pope Pius XI condemned communism in an encyclical titled Divini Redemptoris (on atheistic communism). Not so well known is that, in the same year, Pius XI issued an encyclical titled Mit Brennender Sorge (on the condition of the church in Germany).
In Mit Brennender Sorge, released on March 14, 1937, Pius XI declared that the Nazi regime had initiated “a war of extermination” directed at Catholics. He complained especially about the regime’s attempts to close down Catholic schools along with its actions taken against Catholic Action youth movements. The Pope also hit out at Germany’s atheist rulers — accusing them of supplanting the gospel of Christ with a “myth of race and blood”.
Pius XI associated the Nazi regime with “ancient paganism” and sent his “words of gratitude and commendation” to priests who were “imprisoned in jail and concentration camps”.
What the likes of Seccombe do not understand is that the Nazi regime was in a contest with the Catholic Church and some Protestant churches for members and supporters. In the early years of the regime, what became the Hitler Youth competed with Catholic Action for members.
Then there is the allegation that Hitler was a Catholic. Writing in Fairfax Media on October 3, social commentator Hugh Mackay commented that “a mere 75 years ago, Nazi Germany had even grander territorial goals than ISIL”. He added: “Many Nazis wereChristians who believed that God was on their side: Hitler himself was a Catholic.”
Well, Hitler was baptised a Catholic — at the instigation of his parents. However, as an adult, Hitler never regarded himself as a Catholic or Christian. Rather, he was a proud atheist. This stands in stark contrast to today’s members of Islamic State, who proclaim their allegiance to Islam. Hitler’s detestation of Christianity, Catholic and Protestant alike, was attested to by the likes of Speer and Goebbels. In the event, the Nazi regime was destroyed by Judaeo-Christian nations.
As Joe Sharkey commented in The New York Times in January 2002, after examining some of the prosecution’s material prepared for the Nuremberg war crime trials: “Once they had total power and set off to launch a world war, the Nazis made no secret of what lay in store for Christian clergymen who expressed dissent.”
Obviously the Nazis overwhelmingly targeted Jews, not Christians. But the Nazi leaders were not Christian. The unfashionable fact is that Islamic State’s leaders are all Muslim. It’s just that alienated types such as Seccombe and Flanagan like to underestimate the intentions and beliefs of the West’s enemies.