sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-04-11 11:06 pm

You and me knew life itself is

I think it was at Lunacon this weekend that I was saying to [personal profile] spatch that people don't think about chemical weapons being used in World War II. They are so much a part of the Tarot of World War I, especially the Western Front—Trenches, Poppies, Shells, and Gas—that just because they were not widely employed in combat between 1939 and 1945, in the popular imagination they might as well not have been part of the war at all. Which is one of those weird gaps of definition, I remember saying, because the Nazis used fucktons of chemical warfare, it just wasn't directed against Western Allied troops. It was used chiefly on non-combatants. And being thus compartmentalized off the battlefield, when people around here say "chemical weapons," for many of them I suspect Zyklon B falls into a kind of memory hole. If you have any sense of the Holocaust, however, you think for a minute and the compartmentalization collapses; the memory hole closes. It's not rocket science.

Dammit, Sean Spicer.

(My mother, by contrast, looked at Spicer's remarks and did not think the issue was an unexamined separation of World War II and Holocaust: she thought it was an older problem of definitions. Of course Hitler didn't use chemical weapons on his own people. The Jews weren't his own people. That was kind of one of the key points of National Socialism. So nothing about Spicer's initial statement was wrong, if you take Hitler's word for it. You should just never take Hitler's word for anything. Especially not if you're speaking for the White House.)

So, yeah. I spent most of today away from the internet and then I find out that happened. It does not feel to me as deliberate or as boundary-testing as this administration's earlier omission of Jews from Holocaust Remembrance Day—I think it's more likely that Spicer, who has so far manifested the approximate historical understanding of a turnip, got flustered and tried to bluster his way out of the question and instead just blurted his foot even farther into his mouth—but he's still thrown another bone of garbage to the Holocaust deniers and done nothing to improve the ignorant racist image of the current administration, though truly at this point I believe they are more or less projecting what they intend to, they just don't want to have to get called on it. I'm just amazed that apparently they want to project an image of that level of flailing incompetence.

I'm probably slandering turnips. They're older than Linear B. They're not even unique to Europe. I'm not even going to touch "Holocaust centers." It wasn't like daycare, you know?
asakiyume: (turnip lantern)

[personal profile] asakiyume 2017-04-12 03:41 am (UTC)(link)
You're definitely slandering turnips. (And the icon is not because there's anything to smile about in the entry or my comment--it's because it's a turnip)

That remark about Hitler and "his own people" was evil in two ways. The first was the one your mother was talking about--the denial to Jews of the status of Germans. Since that's what fell out of Spicer's mouth, one has to wonder what groups of Americans he's deny the status of Americans. Only wait, never mind: we know. But beyond that, or underneath that, is the tribalism that says that what you might do to others you'd never do to "your own people." There are two standards of treatment: one for people in the tribe, and one for people out of it. If you kill an "us," the punishment is grave; if you kill a "them," you might get a slap on the wrist, or maybe a blind eye turned, or maybe a commendation. Similar with torture, or infringement of rights.
Edited 2017-04-12 03:41 (UTC)
asakiyume: (more than two)

[personal profile] asakiyume 2017-04-12 04:14 am (UTC)(link)
as if he's trying to backpedal and double down at the same time.

That is hilariously, awfully, exactly what it's like. In fact, that's probably exactly what he's doing.

"I didn't mean something stupid, and by the way I'm right, and *you're* stupid, and shut up!"
moon_custafer: (Default)

[personal profile] moon_custafer 2017-04-12 01:23 pm (UTC)(link)
You feel that people who are going to make statements that are both factually wrong and morally appalling should do so either with skillful dogwhistles or with unabashed openness.

Once, while watching tv, I came in on the ending of an adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand. The part that struck me was when two of the heroes laugh in Randall Flagg's face, saying they'd been bracing themselves for sophisticated arguments and subtle moral temptations, and *death threats* are the worst he can throw at them?

This feels kind of like that, except that it's more enraging than laughable when someone is malicious, and stupid, and *still* has the power to get away with it.
dewline: (Default)

[personal profile] dewline 2017-04-12 11:02 pm (UTC)(link) if he's trying to backpedal and double down at the same time.

Exactly what it looks like, I suspect.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-12 05:41 am (UTC)(link)
"Holocaust centers" was just really....yeah.

And, not that we need to dwell on this, but with really hardcore Holocaust deniers, a huge thing is "there was no gas, there were no gas chambers," and even "the concentration camps are later fakes," altho from what little I've read about them, saying there is 'no evidence' that nobody was ever gassed in concentration camps is a big, big thing. So when he said "Hitler didn't use chemical weapons" I was like HOOOOOOOOOOOooooooly crap is he saying what I think he's saying?

I'm still not quite sure if it was coded denialism or if he's just.....absolutely fucking moronic. Of course it could be both. Trump certainly is surrounded by enough "alt-right" and neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic asshats that I wouldn't be surprised if members of his staff believed such crap.

And it was the first time since Obama organized a Passover Seder in 2009 that the President (and this one has actual Jewish relatives even!) didn't go, nor did his family, and it wasn't held in the White House, either.

Not a good sign. So many of the signs of this man are so not good.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-12 03:18 pm (UTC)(link)
There are things to which hysterical laughter is the only reasonable response.

When we were watching Rachel Maddow's segment on it T and I were alternating cracking up and staring in paralyzed horror. I imagine it was pretty amusing.

Because I have encountered "at least the horrors of WWI prevented the use of chemical weapons in WWII OH SHIT SORRY NEVER MIND" in contexts where people were clearly not trying to be David Irving,

DAVID IRVING, that was it. What a pile of human garbage. Altho I was thinking also of that horrible Willis Carto.

it's still going to be taken as White House-endorsed denial by the people who are looking for it and I am quite sure that the background radiation of anti-Semitism in the current administration is higher than I'd even like to think about, so it's kind of the same thing from the perspective of results.

Yeah. I'm sure those Heil Trump idiots are happy. It's the same thing over and over again with this administration -- everything is so fake and they tell such outrageous lies the opposition gets exhausted just trying to establish basic facts, like X happened historically or the sky is blue. It's like the attrition of reality or something.

On the other hand, the distinct absence of "OH SHIT SORRY NEVER MIND" from Spicer's immediate reactions goes some way toward making me not care.

I can't feel sorry for Spicer, but lately he looks like his soul is being sucked out through his eyeballs or something. Talk about being hired above one's capabilities!

I hadn't heard that. Ivanka passed up the opportunity to hold the perfect, enviable, have-it-all-without-working-for-it Seder? I guess she would have had to do that pesky "let all who are hungry come and eat" bit and that really isn't in keeping with her politics.

ZING! No, she and her husband and Trump didn't attend, and it wasn't held in the White House either, and it was limited to WH "staff." I actually hadn't known about Obama's Seders, shame on me, but they sounded really nice. Inclusive.

Not a good sign. So many of the signs of this man are so not good.
About the only good sign I've seen is that we're all still here.

Yeah, and at least the Pentagon was like "wait whoah no" when he wanted to have tanks and missiles down the middle of Pennsylvania Ave for the inauguration. He and the Republicans are trying their damn best to break the government (!!!!) but at least it's still resisting. Some.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-12 09:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I saw Denial (2016) within the last six months, so I thought of Irving first.

I didn't see that, but I saw, no lie, Leonard Nimoy in Never Forget in 1991 (don't tell me how far long ago that was by now) and read about it a little afterwards.

No, it's like being gaslit. Doesn't make reality go away.

That's true. I need to remember that. It's just bizarre to see them completely DENYING reality and not caring, or laughing, when it's pointed out. Jesus.

Spicer looks as though he knows he's not up to his job.

Would that Jared Kushner also thought the same thing! Since, as Rachel points out, he's now in charge of the internet and peace in the Middle East and tax reform? and insurance and and....

I assumed they were a tradition that would continue, although of course I also assumed that Obama's successor would not be a cruel and incompetent wingjob.

Yyyyyyyyeah. How, how did we get here. (I mean, I know how we got here. In exhaustive detail, I couldn't stop reading analyses at first. But, man. It still really won't sink in.)

(Is 45 the first U.S. president to have Jews in his immediate family? If so, the seder non-attendance is even more conspicuous.)

Yeah, according to Tablet, "the first president to be the parent and grand-parent of observant Jews."
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-13 09:40 am (UTC)(link)
That sounds really good! It might be a little heavy for right now, but I remember reading about Lipstadt and really admiring her, and I heard Weisz got great reviews. Altho it might cheer me up. Actually, if Sean Spicer either gets fired or breaks down gibbering in front of the WH press pool Monday morning, I'll watch it to celebrate.

....we're all gonna need pillows nailed to our desks, man. Or padded desks. Hopefully not padded walls. I cannot believe it hasn't been 100 days yet; it hasn't even been like THREE MONTHS. I already feel like he's driven me half crazy. I wouldn't say I miss the days when I got upset about stuff like, oh, how we're all gonna die, or I feel I've utterly wasted my life, or whatever, but "He's gutting the country, AND he could decide to bomb North Korea, wipe out everyone living there, and then China retaliates!" is not a great thing to realize on waking every morning. I mean it's like the best case scenario here is not ALL of our civil rights get torched and the economy doesn't dive to the bottom of the sea, AND he doesn't start WWIII on Twitter.

I dunno, it still all feels more than a little unreal, which I know is stupid. But I feel kind of like poor Winston Smith trying really hard to see five fingers.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-13 07:45 pm (UTC)(link)
He's really going to kill us all, isn't he.

But hey, nobody's talking about Spicer anymore! Altho I suspect this is the real news that Global Bombing Theatre is intended to bury:

They've been furiously spinning an anti-Russia pro-NATO line the past few days so hard even the NYT bought it. I guess this is where the "we should bomb them and taken the oil" part of his Presidency comes in.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-13 09:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, the press has done quite a job of rallying after the campaign/election, but Trump really still commands the news cycle.
rydra_wong: the illuminated Sarajevo haggadah (sarajevo haggadah)

[personal profile] rydra_wong 2017-04-12 08:04 am (UTC)(link)
"Holocaust centers" was just really....yeah.

Scalzi had a good bit of snark on that:

I'm still not quite sure if it was coded denialism or if he's just.....absolutely fucking moronic.

It's so hard to tell! On one hand, the flailing and worsening multiple attempts at clarification; on the other hand, the visible lack of OH SHIT INCREDIBLY SORRY.

(Also from Scalzi: )

(I was checking Scalzi's Twitter last night because OdysseyCon, and then went ... wait wait Sean Spicer a thing?)

My comment to a friend yesterday was:


I mean, I could honestly buy the possibility that he was thinking about using chemical weapons of the battlefield variety and had a terrible terrible brainfail for a moment. But the reaction isn't OH SHIT SO INCREDIBLY SORRY I'LL JUST CRAWL INTO A CORNER AND DIE OF SHAME, it's basically "you people are so picky, you knew what I meant, anyway yeah the Holocaust was super-bad and all that but my point still stands, which was ... something ..."

I see (this morning my time) he's finally made some kind of apology, so I anticipate that we will be proceeding rapidly to "look, he apologized, what more do you want???"
Edited (edited for my own clarifications.) 2017-04-12 08:07 (UTC)
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-12 03:26 pm (UTC)(link)
SPICER: Sorry, all, I was thinking of Holocaust Center, that nice shopping mall built next to Dachau


Also, Rachel is best: "White House Ineptitude Shown In Its Spokesman Sean Spicer | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC"

(carefully enunciating "Turn-bull" is now a joke around the house)
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2017-04-12 03:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Hilariously during the apology he also kept getting Assad's name so wrong Wolf Blitzer broke in and was like "It's BASHAR AL-ASSAD" in such a grade-school teacher way I thought he was going to tell Spicer to repeat it after him. Just. wha. (And DURING PASSOVER! If someone wrote a novel with all this the editor would be like "Oh, no way, this is too unbelievable, you need to cut some of this out.")
sami: (Default)

[personal profile] sami 2017-04-12 10:20 am (UTC)(link)
hello I am a history nerd

Where the deniers get a lot of material is essentially in blurring certain definitions, and making use of popular misconceptions about things. The best lies are built on truth.

Technically speaking, there wasn't much in the way of facility for gassing people at concentration camps. Most of that was done at extermination camps like Treblinka, and the extermination camps were largely dismantled before the end of the war, because doing so was quite easy, because they didn't have any structures for containment or imprisonment, and most of what remains now is a lot of ash.

Some was done at hybrid locations like Auschwitz, but not that much. Holocaust deniers also make much of the fact that Auschwitz's facilities couldn't have processed the numbers the Holocaust involved, which is true, but not really relevant.

But the surviving prisoners of the camps only had stories about Auschwitz and the concentration camps, because the extermination camps didn't have survivors. (Notably, a lot of information was nonetheless recorded via Franz Stangl, erstwhile commandant of Treblinka.)

So I could almost - almost - see it as kind of an end-run around deniers, since "Holocaust centers" does implicitly acknowledge the Holocaust definitely happened and avoids referring to concentration camps and thereby allowing the "but technically that's wrong!!" argument, but at the same time, it's awful and sounds too dismissive and the whole thing was such an amazing display of idiotic incompetence that I can't give it that much credit.
sami: (Default)

[personal profile] sami 2017-04-13 01:49 am (UTC)(link)
Realistically, if he were capable of that kind of thing this entire incident wouldn't have been such a masterclass in incompetence.

If someone made a comedy TV show about an incompetent White House, Spicer would, at this point, be ruining it with how implausible it is that someone could be White House Press Secretary this badly.

My actual read on the whole thing is that he probably isn't consciously anti-Semitic and he may not have any actual hostility towards the Jewish, but he *is* at least somewhat susceptible to the idea that Jews are resident aliens.

Because if I, personally, were invoking Hitler because somehow I felt the need to make the case that Assad is a bad person - which I can't imagine myself doing for several reasons, but let's get hypothetical - the closest I'd come would be to say that Hitler's use of chemical weapons was against people he didn't think were his people. (But I have no idea how Assad categorises his people versus not his people and oh, I could write essays about how stupid this was.)

If anything, the reason this worries me is mostly because of what it says about the people Spicer's hanging around with. I don't think he's very bright, and I think he's easily led, and what worries me about the Trumpalos with regards to anti-Semitism is that they've been making clumsy use of excerpts from Goebbels' Greatest Hits for some time now, and I'm not happy about hints that some of them buy into it.

I take comfort from remembering that they're really not very good at it, their official leader is terrible at delivering the speeches and they have no-one at all who possesses an appreciable fraction of Hitler's charisma, and it is abundantly clear they cannot muster the organisational competence or loyalty necessary to do what the Nazis did.

People say a lot of unkind things about the Nazis, and in fairness, I've studied them in some depth and I did come to the conclusion that their leaders were not good people.

But I would always point out that - barring later breakdowns in military strategy which I could go into some depth about but won't at this juncture because I have a sprained wrist and have already typed too much - what they did tend to be was competent.

If Spicer worked for Goebbels he'd have quietly had him killed by now.
sami: (Default)

[personal profile] sami 2017-04-13 10:53 am (UTC)(link)
To be honest, I thought he went for the Hitler comparison simply because this administration sleeps, eats, and breathes hyperbole and if they're going to have enemies, then those enemies are going to be the worst ever and who's worse than Hitler? Well, since we're about to fight him, obviously Assad!

That's a really good point. Although they managed to do that implausibly badly too, what with the barrel bombs thing and stuff.

They are crap fascists. They don't even have the visual style. And I agree that's a good thing! But just because they can't achieve the second coming of the Third Reich doesn't mean they can't hurt a lot of people—including people who don't even exist yet—and I want them out of power before they get any farther in their demolition of this country and destabilization of the planet than they have already.

I do wonder how they are so bad at this. They use so much thinly-or-not-at-all-veiled material lifted straight from history, but they also use it really incompetently.

I suppose the intelligent, historically literate people also already know how this ends, and aren't going to sign on with the Keystone Klan.

Did you see the text of Richard Lugar's address? I disagree slightly with some of his arguments, but I thought it was overall an interesting and solid critique of the record so far on foreign policy.
sami: (Default)

[personal profile] sami 2017-04-14 02:48 am (UTC)(link)
(Keystone Klan is, as far as I am aware, my coinage, so thank you.)

The inability to bomb your way to security is, it seems pretty clear, one that the current decision-makers don't recognise, given that what the hell they just used a MOAB, but I choose to share Lugar's hope that maybe they're going to learn it soon.
wanted_a_pony: photo of Rodney McKay from Stargate: Atlantis leaning on a large sythe (McKay thigh-holstered with sythe)

[personal profile] wanted_a_pony 2017-04-13 08:05 pm (UTC)(link)
If Spicer worked for Goebbels he'd have quietly had him killed by now.

I... am ashamed at how my immediate gut reaction was "oh god if only!" Yuck. I think this administration is rubbing off on me.
:: shivers, runs for the shower ::
sami: (Default)

[personal profile] sami 2017-04-14 03:04 am (UTC)(link)
It's probably worth bearing in mind that Spicer is so very much a symptom, not a cause. For the issue of America's image internationally, he's irrelevant; from the perspective of a foreigner outside the US (which I am), I think the damage to the reputation and image of the United States of America was done when Trump was elected. Overall, the world at large thought that Americans were better people than this; the global consensus on McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan was oh hell no and they didn't win, and Trump was just so much worse.

And then Trump won, and everything since has been more-or-less exactly what we expected.

Sean Spicer calling Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "Prime Minister Trumble", was kind of funny; President Trump being rude to him wasn't as funny, but neither of those things outraged Australians nearly as much as detaining and traumatising Mem Fox. (It helps that Australia, as a nation, doesn't care about the minor details on this kind of thing. And overall, Australians like Americans, so we can cheerfully hold the current American government in contempt without forming a grudge.)

I will say that it's bordering on the archetypal expression of "be careful what you wish for" to predicate an "oh if only" thought on the idea of Goebbels being in charge of the White House press operation. Goebbels was actually good at this. If this lot were competent at fascism we would be in serious trouble.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

[personal profile] rydra_wong 2017-04-12 08:08 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not even going to touch "Holocaust centers." It wasn't like daycare, you know?

Permission to [community profile] metaquotes?
phi: (Default)

[personal profile] phi 2017-04-12 12:33 pm (UTC)(link)
I share your mother's analysis of Spicer's comments.
rinue: (Default)

[personal profile] rinue 2017-04-12 12:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I like all your analysis here. Is there an actual WWI tarot deck, or is that a metaphor? (Either way, I approve.)
kenjari: (Default)

[personal profile] kenjari 2017-04-12 12:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Sean Spicer's college newspaper once "accidentally" dubbed him "Sean Sphincter", and I think they were spot on considering what is coming out of his mouth these days.
ethelmay: (Default)

[personal profile] ethelmay 2017-04-13 01:17 am (UTC)(link)
The Mouth of Sauron?
Edited 2017-04-13 01:18 (UTC)
gwynnega: (Barry Ryan)

[personal profile] gwynnega 2017-04-12 06:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd say that "Holocaust centers" is the epitome of the banality of evil, but I think that would be giving blundering Sean Spicer too much credit.
dhampyresa: (Default)

[personal profile] dhampyresa 2017-04-12 09:45 pm (UTC)(link)
And here I thought Marine Le Pen's comments would be hard to top :/

(I went to the Vel d'Hiv memorial today, because I felt like I had to and someone had put flowers in the statues' hands, which made me feel better.)
dewline: (bad news)

[personal profile] dewline 2017-04-12 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Bunch of damned fools are sweating like crazy to make the competition exists anyway.