Every so often the Monitor feels the need to dust off its files on Pat Buchanan and remind readers why Senator Joseph Lieberman and other Washington eminences are dangerously wrong when they insist Buchanan is no anti-Semite. A column he wrote last month on John Demjanjuk provides the latest opportunity to put Buchanan in proper perspective.
Buchanan’s concern for former Nazis is nothing new, of course. Alan A. Ryan, Jr., a former Justice Department prosecutor, once characterized Buchanan as “the spokesman for Nazi war criminals in America.”
A constant critic of Kurt Waldheim during the latter’s tenure as UN secretary general, Buchanan suddenly became a lot more supportive when the truth about Waldheim’s wartime activities was made public. The ostracism of Waldheim by the U.S. and other countries, wrote Buchanan, had to it “an aspect of moral bullying and the singular stench of selective indignation.”
In addition to weighing in on Waldheim, Buchanan actively lobbied then-Attorney General Edwin Meese on behalf of Karl Linnas, who had headed a concentration camp in Estonia (Meese ignored Buchanan’s entreaties and deported Linnas to the Soviet Union), and made his unhappiness known when the U.S. apologized to France for having sheltered the Butcher of Lyons, Klaus Barbie.
He also took up the cause of Arthur Rudolph, the father of Hitler’s V-2 rocket program who after the war had become an American citizen and part of the U.S. space effort, as well as that of Demjanjuk. The support for Nazi war criminals repeatedly voiced by Buchanan is but one harsh note in the syndicated columnist’s ongoing primal scream against Jews and Israel. His deep-seated resentments were perhaps best summed when he complained about what he called “the caustic, cutting cracks about my church and my popes from both Israel and its amen corner in the United States.”
The controversy that erupted in the late 1980s over the desire of some Carmelite nuns to erect a permanent convent at Auschwitz was made to order for Buchanan. Upset with conciliatory statements made by the late Cardinal John O’Connor and other church leaders, Buchanan sneered:
“If U.S. Jewry takes the clucking appeasement of the Catholic cardinalate as indicative of our submission, it is mistaken…. Be not afraid, Your Eminence; just step aside, there are bishops and priests ready to assume the role of defender of the faith.”
In 1988, angered that The New York Times had published only a tepid critique of “The Last Temptation of Christ,” a movie deemed blasphemous by many Christians, Buchanan lamented “a ‘newspaper of record’ that can sniff out anti-Semitism in some guy turning down a kosher hot dog at the ballpark.”
Though he claims that at one time he was an “uncritical apologist for Israel,” Buchanan was already on record as early as the mid-1970s imploring Congress not to listen “to the counsel of the Jewish lobby” and criticizing legislation designed to counter the Arab boycott of Israel.
In 1979 Buchanan insisted that Americans were asking themselves “how long taxpayers must subsidize Israel with annual billions … [and] why the United States is siding with three million Israelis – instead of 100 million Arabs who have oil.”
In 1982, Buchanan referred to the mass killing of Palestinians by Lebanese Christians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps as the “Rosh Hashanah massacre” and opined that “the Israeli army is looking toward a blackening of its name to rival what happened to the French army in the Dreyfus Affair.”
And so Buchanan already had something of a history when, shortly before the 1991 Gulf War, he famously declared that “There are only two groups that are beating the drums…for war in the Middle East: the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States.”
In the years since, he’s authored books and columns arguing that the U.S. should not have fought Nazi Germany in World War II and has been in the forefront of those charging that the war in Iraq was dreamed up by a cabal of neoconservative Jews and their Knesset handlers.
And then last month, in a column that appeared on Good Friday, an apparently demented Buchanan wrote that the Justice Department’s determination to deport Demjanjuk to Germany is reminiscent of “the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.”
In other words, Buchanan likened the plight of an accused Nazi war criminal to that of Jesus Christ, the very object of his religious veneration. Wonder if Joe Lieberman would still say, as he did to the late Tim Russert in 2000, “I enjoy [Buchanan’s] company. He’s a bright, interesting guy … no, I wouldn’t call him an anti-Semite at all.”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org