Tag Archives: Hitler

Holocaust on full display

NUREMBERG, Germany — My friend told me something about the education he received growing up in this country that I feel compelled to share.

While many American politicians seek to avoid teaching our children about all aspects of our country’s history, German children are given the opportunity to tour first-hand one of history’s greatest scourges.

My good pal Martin explained to me that all students are required to take field trips to tour one of the death camps built by the Nazi regime that launched World War II in 1939 and sought to exterminate a race of people.

The Holocaust is on full display in Germany these days, Martin said.

“We have to see it ourselves,” he told me this morning. This is my second trip to Nuremberg; I came here eight years ago with my bride, Kathy Anne and on that 2016 visit, I toured the Documentation Center, the museum built to commemorate the war trials that took place in Nuremberg after WWII.

Martin told me on that first visit that “we aren’t proud of that period in our history, but we do not hide it, either.” He said then that Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror was a “blight” on Germany’s otherwise glorious history.

Today I learned about how German children are taken to one of the sites used by the Nazis to imprison innocent families … and where they were executed!

And to think, thus, that American politicians do not want our children to learn about our own nation’s “blight,” such as, say, our enslavement of human beings.

Absolutely disgusting! We mustn’t hide, either, from the sins committed by our own nation’s leaders.

Yes, words do matter

Let me crystal clear: Donald Trump’s repeated use of Hitleresque rhetoric in describing the state of play in this great country should worry every single American.

Who might it worry the most? That would be direct descendants of those who went to war in 1941 to fight Hitler’s evil Reich, along with the fascists led by the bumbling Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo, the warmongering prime minister of Japan.

Trump is invoking terms like “vermin” and saying immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our nation.” The “poison,” of course, comes from those who are black, or brown.

This man is evil in the first degree. He must be stopped. He cannot possibly ever step anywhere near the White House again.

I happen to be one of those direct descendants of WWII veterans. My late father enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 7, 1941 … the very day of the “dastardly act” committed by Japan’s naval and air forces against our military base in Hawaii. Dad saw his combat duty in The Med and dodged bombs and bullets fired at him by forces loyal to Hitler and Mussolini.

Thus, I take this “vermin” and “poison” rhetoric so very personally.

Trump is a racist madman. He is out of control. He is the embodiment of evil.

Can’t ignore these rants

Worldly perfection normally would allow folks like me to blow off the rants of a rapper-turned-wise ass as just that, meaningless rants.

Except that this world ain’t perfect. So, when a rapper like Kanye West goes on a podcast with Alex Jones — the notorious conspiracy theorist — and declares that Adolf Hitler had redeeming qualities, well, you gotta take this clown a lot more seriously than he deserves.

You see, West has something like 32 million Twitter followers. Twitter has suspended his access to the social medium based on the idiocy he muttered on Jones’s podcast.

But … this is the same idiot who dined with Donald Trump and brought along Holocaust denier/anti-Semite/white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Trump still declines to condemn the rubbish that comes from West’s pie hole, or the moronic rants of Fuentes. He offered some kind of lame “rationale” for breaking bread with these two freaks by declaring that neither of them said anything “anti-Semitic” while they were in Trump’s presence.

It’s all bullsh**!

It’s also frightening to think that a former president of the United States would keep the company he keeps.


Happy Oxhi Day!

OK, I’ll set you straight.

For those who don’t know what “Oxhi” means, it’s the Greek word for “no.” I have provided a rough translation from the Greek.

Oxhi Day is celebrated in Greece, the land of my ancestry, from where my grandparents emigrated near the turn of the 20th century. It’s a day that commemorates an episode in Greek history in which the country stood up to a superior military power and proceeded to kick the stuffing out of it.

On Oct. 28, 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini — who was Adolf Hitler’s hapless ally in the effort to conquer the world — issued an ultimatum to the Greek prime minister, a fellow named John Metaxas. It went something like this: Allow the Italian armed forces to use Greek ports to wage war in Africa across the Mediterranean, or else we’re going to take them over by force.

Metaxas issued a stern answer: “Oxhi!” he said. Mussolini then launched an invasion of Greece from neighboring Albania, which the Italians had already conquered.

The Greek army let the Italian forces enter the country. Then they cut them off at the border and proceeded to slaughter them in the Pindus Mountains. The Greeks, led by the elite Evzone mountain fighters, then drove the Italians out of Greece and back into Albania, where the fighting stalled. Eventually, in April 1941, Hitler decided to rescue the Italians by invading Greece; he conquered the country after fierce fighting.

To Greeks, this is a big deal, as it should be. Mussolini had delusions of grandeur while he sidled up as Hitler’s key European ally. Except that the Italians couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag. The Greek army was supposedly ill-equipped to handle the machinery that the Italians brought to the fight. They did, however, possess plenty of willpower in the effort to prevent Mussolini from conquering Greece.

And so it went. The Greeks had to endure three years of Nazi tyranny before driving them out of the country near the end of the fighting. The Greek resistance was among the fiercest in all of Europe.

Yes, I am a proud American of Greek descent. Happy Oxhi Day … everyone!


‘Master race’ crack catches up with county commissioner

Louis Klemp went out in a blaze of ignominy.

This clown is the now former Leavenworth (Kan.) County commissioner who told an African-American city planner from Kansas City that he — Klemp — is a member of the “master race.”

At first Klemp dug in, saying he didn’t mean any harm by it. He said his comment was “well-intentioned.”

Well, then he quit. He’s gone. Out of office and one can hope he’ll never be seen or heard from again.

But this brief episode brings to mind so many instances I have witnessed over many years of so-called members of the “master race” making utter asses of themselves in public, with no sense of shame, self-awareness or understanding of their public idiocy.

We often see such demonstrations of sheer stupidity when it involves those who belong to various white-supremacist groups. You know, outfits like the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood . . . those kinds of yahoo groups.

My all-time favorite example of such stupidity being played out in public in front of the whole wide world occurred about 30 years ago in Orange, Texas.

I’ll set the stage briefly.

The Ku Klux Klan wanted to stage a rally to protest federal housing policy that allowed an African-American man to move into an all-white public housing complex in Vidor, an Orange County community with a seedy reputation as being “tolerant” of Klan activity. I attended the Klan rally to observe it, given that I was editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise in nearby Jefferson County. I wanted to comment on what I saw happening.

I was standing near a TV reporter, who extended a microphone toward a KKK sympathizer’s face and asked her why she supported the Klan. The individual — a proud and devoted member of the “master race” — told the TV guy, in the presence of two small children standing next to her, that she didn’t “want my fuc**** kids associating with them people.”

Yes. It happened. So help me. As God is my witness.

Louis Klemp has told others that he was trying to make some comparison — goofy and utterly brainless as it sounds — between his teeth and the city planner’s teeth. He made some idiotic explanation that the two of them have “gaps” in their front teeth, which makes them both members of the “master race.”

Louis Klemp, with that “master race” comment, managed to channel one Adolf Hitler, who sought to create such a thing with his Third Reich. We all know how that turned out.

Good bye, Louis Klemp . . . and good riddance!

Yes, Mr. POTUS, you’ve ‘made a difference’

Americans have known all along that Donald John Trump does not suffer from any lack of self-esteem.

He’s so damn proud of himself. Of his wealth. Of his stunning political victory in 2016. Of his children. Of his smarts. Blah, blah, blah.

He managed to tweet some idiotic messages overnight in which he talked about the things for which he is thankful. He said, if you can believe it, that he is proud of himself. I know . . . I’m stunned, too.

He is proud of the “tremendous difference I’ve made” as president. Well, you know what? I am going to agree with part of what he said. Yes, the president has made a huge “difference.” Except that I apply another viewpoint in assessing that difference.

The Ayatollah Khomeini “made a difference” when he took power in Iran; so did Adolf Hitler in Germany; same with Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union. They all “made a difference.”

I don’t equate Donald Trump with those hideous monsters. I merely use them as examples of how one can interpret the “difference” reference differently than what the president is asserting.

Trump has taken a politician’s penchant for self-aggrandizement to astonishing new levels. He said we’re “stronger now than before” he became president. How does he measure that strength? He doesn’t say. He alludes to allies that flock to our side. Who? When? Under what circumstance? He doesn’t say. Trump refers continually to the “fine-tuned machine” at the White House and how hundreds of applicants are knocking down the doors to come to work there. How does he explain all the key vacancies in Cabinet departments? He doesn’t.

Yeah, the president has “made a difference.” It’s just not the kind of difference with which he has deluded himself.


Happy 97th birthday, Dad

I play mind games with myself on occasion. One of them involves the man in this picture. He is my father. This weekend would be his 97th birthday. He didn’t live much beyond the date of this picture.

He was 59 years of age when fate intervened. Dad was fooling around with some friends and business associates in British Columbia when their speedboat crashed. Dad died on the spot. That was in September 1980.

The mind game involves asking myself what kind of old man Dad would have become. Pete Kanelis could be a complicated man. He was well-educated and well-spoken; he often was the life of any gathering he attended; he came from a large family with many siblings, to whom he was devoted beyond measure; he was the eldest of seven children born to my grandparents and on occasion had to assume the role of family “leader.”

Dad also had some heartache in his life. He sought to run a business, but it didn’t work out. He and my mother faced financial ruin in the early 1950s.

How would he have aged? I cannot know this, but my sense is that he would have traveled a difficult journey into his so-called “golden years.” Dad didn’t take good care of his body. He was an “old” 59 when he and his pals crashed that boat.

I am left, thus, to merely speculate.

Today, though, I want to call attention briefly to another key aspect of Dad’s life. He was part of the Greatest Generation. I salute his service in the U.S. Navy today — and always. He went to war just a few weeks after Pearl Harbor.

He joined roughly 16 million other Americans to fight the tyrants in Berlin, Rome and Tokyo who sought to conquer the world. Dad would have none of it. He saw the bulk of his combat in the Mediterranean Sea theater of operations. He fought the Germans and the Italians from the deck of a ship, firing his anti-aircraft weapon at fighters and bombers flown by men intent on killing him and his buddies.

We’re going to honor those who didn’t come from various battlefields over the course of our nation’s history. Dad, of course, did return home after World War II. So this Memorial Day holiday doesn’t honor his sacrifice precisely. I choose to honor it here and, yes, I am likely to say something again on Veterans Day.

Fate dealt Dad a mortal blow 38 years ago when left this world without warning. I am proud of and grateful for the role he played in keeping us safe from the monstrous tyrants who sought to enslave an entire planet.

Thank you, Dad, for saving the world. And happy birthday.

We’re winning the ‘war,’ but the fight will go on

Iraq has declared victory in its war against the Islamic State.

It has declared that ISIS is defeated in Iraq. The terrorist fighting force no longer is able to wage war against the Iraq military machine. Good news, yes? Of course it is.

But wait. What about the terrorist who tried to kill innocent victims in New York? He is “ISIS-inspired,” according to the FBI and New York law enforcement officials. How are we going to stop these monsters? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” terrorists from perpetrating their evil acts against civilized society?

We cannot?

A Bangladeshi immigrant is now recovering from his injuries after he terrorized people in a New York train station. He tried to blow himself up, but failed.

Bold pledges and declarations of our intent to “destroy” the Islamic State shouldn’t be ignored. Indeed, our military forces have taken out many thousands of ISIS fighters; they killed or captured many ISIS leaders; they have disrupted ISIS’s command and control network.

The fight should go on. It must go on.

We are going to fight this war, however, for as long as terrorists exist anywhere on Earth. U.S. and Allied forces bombed Germany to ashes during the World War II; our forces killed thousands of Nazis; Adolf Hitler killed himself in that Berlin bunker.

Did that eradicate Nazi sympathizers in Europe — or in the United States of America? No! Nazi lone wolves are still on the prowl throughout the world.

This post-9/11 world continues to teach us a hard but necessary lesson, which is that we cannot let our guard down — ever — against those who would do us harm.

They are everywhere.

Media attacks = dictatorship?

I have been reluctant to equate Donald John Trump Sr.’s constant attacks on the media with the behavior of tinhorn dictators — and truly evil despots.

That is until now.

The president tore into the media again Tuesday night at that campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz. He called them “fake” and “dishonest.”

Trump echoed much of what he has said ad nauseam ever since he launched his presidential campaign.

For seemingly forever, the media let him get away with it. They would report on his rants, letting his words speak for themselves. Trump obliged. He courted the media.

Then something happened. The media began calling the president out on the lies he kept repeating. The media started to reveal falsehoods. Trump didn’t like that. Then the attacks got really hot.

There’s a pattern developing, according to media watchdogs and political pundits. It’s disturbing in the extreme. The pattern follows a familiar course: political leaders seek to delegitimize the media, to reduce their standing among citizens. These leaders have sought to turn the people they want to lead against the media.

Hitler did it in Germany. Stalin did it in the Soviet Union. There have been assorted Third World dictators who have done the very same thing: Pol Pot in Cambodia, Idi Amin in Uganda, Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

I cannot pretend to know what is motivating Donald J. Trump’s incessant attacks on the  media. Nor can I pretend to understand anything as it regards the president’s thinking.

I just know that presidents for as long as I’ve been alive have sought to understand the media’s role in a free society. They’ve all reached a form of bipartisan understanding. None of them has liked reading or hearing critical news stories about their presidencies.

However, as former President George W. Bush said recently, the media are “necessary to keep public officials accountable.”

And, no, the media are not — as Donald Trump has said — the “enemy of the American people.”

This is how we remember traitors?

I want to discuss briefly a subject that makes me a bit uncomfortable: Confederate memorials and statues.

It’s been in the news of late. Communities across the land are pondering whether to remove statues commemorating leaders of the movement that ignited the Civil War, tearing the nation in half, killing roughly 600,000 Americans on both sides of that terrible struggle.

And for what purpose? The Confederate states wanted to continue to enslave human beings.

It’s news these days, of course, because of what transpired this weekend in Charlottesville (which has become a form of shorthand for “racism,” “bigotry” and “intolerance”).

I join others who are asking: What other country “honors” those who betray their nation, secede from it and then start the bloodiest war in that nation’s history? Slavery is undoubtedly this nation’s most visible scar. We cannot hide it, push it aside, ignore it. It’s part of our past.

In that context, Confederate descendants say that individuals such as Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis and a whole host of others also are part of our nation’s history. Oh, sure they are. Do we honor them? Do we revere their memory or their legacy? I think not.

My wife and I visited Germany this past September. We stayed with friends in Nuremberg, which has a special place in world history: It was the city where Nazi leaders were put on trial for their crimes against humanity.

One of our friends, a journalist and a highly educated man, told us that Germany has come to grips with Nazis’ role in plunging the world into the bloodiest conflict in its history. There’s a place called the Documentation Center in Nuremberg. It tells the story of the Holocaust and the unthinkable misery that the Nazis brought to Europe and sought to inflict on the rest of the world.

“We don’t hide from it,” our friend said. “We are ashamed of that time.”

But the Germans damn sure don’t honor anyone associated with that period of their nation’s otherwise glorious past. One doesn’t see statues of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering or Himmler in public places.

Perhaps we ought to ponder whether these Confederate “heroes” deserve the same level of scorn.