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Republican defends Nazi re-enacments

By ANN SANNER
October 12, 2010

This undated photo provided by Republican congressional candidate Rich Iott shows Iott, center, during a WWI re-enactment as an American infantryman. Iott said Monday Oct. 11, 2010 that he has been involved in re-enactments on and off for roughly 35 years. He said he has dressed as an American soldier from World War II, as well as a soldier from each side of the Civil War. Iott said he could not recall when he and his son joined the Wiking group but that he was no longer involved. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Rich Iott)

A Republican congressional candidate from Ohio, countering criticism from a House GOP leader, said Monday that he did nothing wrong by wearing a Nazi uniform while participating in World War II re-enactments.

Rich Iott told The Associated Press in an interview that he took part in the historical re-enactments to educate the public, and does not agree with the Nazis‘ views or their actions against Jews.

Asked whether it was wrong to wear a Nazi uniform, Iott said: “I don’t see anything wrong about educating the public about events that happened. And that’s the whole purpose of historical re-enacting.”

Iott faces Democratic incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur in northwest Ohio in the November election.

The Atlantic magazine first reported Friday that Iott had participated in the re-enactments wearing a Waffen-SS uniform.

Iott said Monday he was in a re-enactment group called Wiking for three or four years — though he believed his name remained on the group’s roster for longer. He said he and his then-teenage son had joined as a part of a shared interest in history.

The House Republicans’ No. 2 leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, on Sunday said he repudiates Iott’s actions and would not support someone who would dress in Nazi attire. His remarks on “Fox News Sunday” came after Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida, cited Iott as an example of GOP candidates with extreme views.

“You know good and well that I don’t support anything like that,” said Cantor, who is Jewish.

Iott said Cantor had no information or background about his re-enacting.

“What Cantor did is exactly the illustration of why people are disgusted with politicians,” Iott said. “He made comments and took a position that was good for him at the time, regardless of whether it was good for anyone else or good for the voters.”

Iott said he has been involved in re-enactments on and off for roughly 35 years. He said he has dressed as an American soldier for World War I and World War II re-enactments, as well as a soldier from each side of the Civil War. Iott said he could not recall when he and his son joined the Wiking group but that he was no longer involved.

“Never, in any of my re-enacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war, especially the Jewish Community,” Iott said in a statement Saturday.

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, called Iott’s actions “a profoundly disgraceful expression of anti-American values.”

“His failure to apologize is particularly shameful and desecrates the memory of all victims of the Nazis, Jew and non-Jew,” Steinberg said in a written statement.

During the peak of his involvement in the early 2000s, Iott said he dressed up about a half dozen times a year at the most. He said he wore the Nazi uniform in battle re-enactments, presentations at schools and public events.

Asked what he said while wearing the Nazi uniform in the schools, he said, “We talked about the atrocities that were committed and it was a horrible, horrible part of history. But we can’t forget about it or, you know, sweep it under the rug. Because those who forget about history are destined to repeat it.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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8 Responses to Republican defends Nazi re-enacments

  1. DejaVuAllOver

    October 14, 2010 at 1:15 am

    The real news is that this is even considered taboo. Or, in other words, that asking legitimate and historical questions, the answers to which do not serve the interests of the elite, is unacceptable. How many blacks were killed in the American Civil War? Why is the NBA almost entirely negro? Why is it impossible to annihilate 6 million Jews with the known incinerators, in a year and a half, without many, many, mass graves, also, which have never been found? Why was Neville Chamberlain such a wuss? Could Hitler have been right about Stalin? Was Leo Strauss a racist? Is Larry Summers really a sexist pig? (well, scratch that….. the answer is obvious….) The fact that this is even a story means nothing more than the establishment propaganda is falling apart. ‘Bout freakin’ time.

    • Guardhouse Lawyer

      October 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      “Why is it impossible to annihilate 6 million Jews with the known incinerators, in a year and a half, without many, many, mass graves, also, which have never been found?”

      Why is it possible to live in a world in which there are still people who state unequivocally or imply in the same manner that the Holocaust never occurred?

      Why is it possible to live in a world where those who present themselves for public office are so obtuse or naive as to believe that their perceived glorification of Nazi Germany is anything other than a stumbling block to their aspirations? Please note that I am not saying that any one person has actually glorified the Nazi cause in any way, I am talking about how such action will be perceived by a voter.

      I have no problem with people who want to dress up in soldier uniform (of whatever stripe so to speak), though personally I consider it to be vaguely childish. But a person having dressed as a Nazi, whether he or she has expressed or implied any approbation for the Nazi cause, has to be aware that Nazism is a very sore spot with the American public and always will be; such activities, innocent though they may be, will be detrimental to success on the campaign trail. Whether that is right or wrong is not my place to say, as I only control one vote.

      • griff

        October 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm

        I don’t believe he stated that the Holocaust never occured. Some one would have to be pretty dumb to think that. You berate the public for being naive yet you show no understanding of the basis for so-called Holocaust Denial.

        I’m no denier, of course, it’s pretty well documented that the Holocaust did indeed occur. I guess there probably are some folks out there that really believe it never happened, but they of course are protrayed in the media as the poster boys for any one that may question any part of it at all.

        I remember reading that our own American Red Cross put the figure at 4 million. Quite a large difference – 2 million souls.

        On top of that, not all the victims were Jews. There were plenty of other folks “put to the sword,” to include Christians and even Gypsies. In fact, any one not of pure Aryan stock would have been fair game.

        Did the Gypsies get their own homeland after the war?

        As far as re-enacting goes, some one has to play the bad guys, unless Disney is willing to produce a few thousand Nazi automatons to play the parts. But then I guess they’d be under fire for that as well.

        Aren’t we Americans just a tad too over-sensitive these days?

  2. woody188

    October 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    One might think they had learned something from the whole Shirley Sherrod affair about jumping to conclusions without all the facts. It’s always fun to see an Israeli first-er like Cantor look even dumber than usual. Lucky for us this isn’t Israel and people can dress up and play/learn however they want.

    I appreciate your comments DejaVu. Of course I can understand that you didn’t say lots of people didn’t die, only that the claim of the total number of deaths is likely exaggerated and lacking proof. And your allusion was to the fact that the corporate media promotes the Jewish Holocaust story as an excuse for atrocities committed by the state of Israel.

    Cantor probably would have preferred the historical inaccuracy of wearing dishdashs and abayas as it would promote the current war in the Middle East and would be acceptable propaganda in Israel.

  3. Almandine

    October 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Just wondering who would have played the Germans in those reinacted WWII battles if American Patriots can’t do it. Ditto for Civil War Yankees vs. Rebels.

    Another tempest-in-a-teapot, eh?

    • griff

      October 14, 2010 at 9:33 pm

      Yeah, let’s not forget the many “American” corporations involved in funding and supporting the Hitler regime, to include Ford Motor Company and IBM. And there was a certain Bush family patriarch that was heavily involved in supporting Hitler. And we went on to elect his son and grandson to be President.

  4. Carl Nemo

    October 16, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Griff you’ve turned an article of trivial consequence into something serious with ‘negative’ overtones… ; )

    We all watch “reenactments” of war on the History Channel et al. Someone has to play the German, Russian, British et. al. soldier roles. It’s just a job and thank goodness there are folks that make their living or supplement their incomes by doing so. If an actor doesn’t want to portray a German in uniform then sobeit, but if someone does it’s really stupid to condemn them for doing so. It’s simply entertainment and possibly education too. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff

      October 16, 2010 at 6:49 am

      Hee hee. My bad.