The Atlantic magazine reported last week that Ohio GOP candidate and Tea Party favorite Rich Iott (center of the photograph) has participated in WWII battle reenactments wearing a Waffen-SS uniform since 2003.
Iott is drawing criticism from all sides for his reenactment participation as a German SS soldier despite the fact that Iott has also participated in reenactments as a Civil War Union infantryman, a World War I dough boy and World War II American infantryman and paratrooper. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) appeared on ‘Fox News Sunday’ and both condemned Iott for having chosen to take part in reenactments as a member of the Nazi 5th SS Panzer Division.
I am certain that the condemnation is a political necessity given that some might be offended by what Iott chose to do with his leisure time. However, it must be noted that since everyone must have an ancestor who was victimized to some extent by someone at some point in history, it is difficult to do anything of a historic nature, or even at a historic site, without offending someone. These days it is impossible to hold any political, religious, philosophical, or historical view-point by which no one will be offended. That is just the way things are.
The insanity is in the consideration of everyone’s intolerant sensibilities as if they are rational and justified, even to the extent that one cannot discuss God at a ‘sacred spot’, or the wearing of religious jewelry or emblems in certain places, or even affix certain bumper stickers to your vehicle. These are symptoms of a society driving itself into insanity in a futile effort to avoid giving offence.
Much of the reaction to real or imagined offences are based on an odd form of situational morality. If Mr. Iott had been a Hollywood actor playing a Nazi SS officer (or even Hitler himself) in a film reenactment, I doubt very much if either Cantor or Wasserman Schultz would have offered any criticism of his involvement.
Mr. Iott says that he chose to participate in the reenactments with his son as a bonding experience and that he chose the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking because they fought mainly on the eastern front against the Russian Red Army, and not U.S. or British soldiers.
In any battle reenactment, someone must play the bad guy. Is Iott is being criticised for having played the bad guy? Between the Red Army under Stalin and the Nazis under Hitler, who is the bad guy? Stalin murdered at least 30 million people before Hitler began his extermination of Jews and gypsies. Stalin starved to death or executed one-quarter of the Ukrainian population. Stalin was far and away the greater mass murderer, and yet , of the two, Hitler has become the more notorious and hated. I assume that if Iott had chosen to take part on the Red Army side he would not now be condemned for having done so. Insanity, pure insanity.