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The Sins Of Pat Buchanan
Mon, 02/20/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week
Menachem Z. Rosensaft
Menachem Z. Rosensaft

Better late, even extremely, excruciatingly late, than never.  MSNBC’s decision to oust Patrick Buchanan as its arch-conservative political commentator last week was long overdue.

Some of Buchanan’s erstwhile colleagues at the network are voicing their unhappiness at this development. “Mika [Brzezinski] and I strongly disagree with this outcome,” Joe Scarborough wrote on his Politico blog. Praising Buchanan’s “relentless genialities” and his “deep, even formidable, loyalty,” Chris Matthews told his viewers that “obviously, I’m going to miss his cheerful, fun-loving irascible presence around here.”

Before Buchanan is turned into a veritable martyr, a review of his record seems in order.

I first crossed swords with Buchanan in 1987 after I had written a New York Times op-ed in which I called for the deportation of Nazi war criminal Karl Linnas, and said that Buchanan’s “oft-expressed sympathy” for a succession of such Nazi war criminals was a “constitutionally protected perversion.” Sticking to his guns, Buchanan took umbrage in a Letter to the Editor at what he considered a “nasty personal slur” and “flippant libelous insult.”

Reiterating his disdain for the U.S. Justice Department officials charged with exposing and prosecuting individuals who had participated in atrocities during World War II and had entered the United States under false pretenses, Buchanan speciously argued that, “Given the destructive blunders made by our revenge-obsessed Nazi hunters, inside and outside government, resulting in irreparable injury and death to innocent Americans, what we ask does not seem outrageous: American justice for American citizens, a fair trial in this free country, where the accused has the right to face his accusers.”

Buchanan knew full well, of course, that neither Linnas nor any other Nazi war criminal could be tried in the United States. The most the U.S. authorities could do was strip them of their U.S. citizenship and deport them, a legal remedy Buchanan has steadfastly opposed at all times.

In response, I wrote in the Times that Buchanan “evidently would rather see a Nazi war criminal such as Karl Linnas go free in the West than be brought to justice in the Soviet Union. ... Mr. Buchanan is wrong in claiming that ‘nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.’ Nazi war criminals are, by definition, un-American, and far too many of them have lived far too long in the sunlight. And yes, Mr. Buchanan, your unwavering eloquence on their behalf is both outrageous and obscene.”

Twenty-two years later, Buchanan likened another Nazi war criminal to Jesus Christ. When John Demjanjuk was about to be deported to Germany, where he would eventually be tried and convicted for his role in the murder of 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp, Buchanan in his syndicated column of April 17, 2009, not only called Demjanjuk an “American Dreyfus” and “the sacrificial lamb whose blood washes away the stain of Germany's sins,” but he wrote that the “spirit” behind the U.S. Justice Department’s efforts to bring Demjanjuk to justice is “the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.”

As it happens, neither Joe Scarborough nor Chris Matthews ever bothered to challenge Buchanan about this outrageous, even sacrilegious comparison. But then again, they also never confronted him when he disparaged Justice Sonia Sotomayor as a “Quota Queen,” or when he wrote in his May 14, 2010 column that with Elena Kagan’s confirmation as an Justice of the US Supreme Court, “Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats.

“Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity?”

Buchanan’s record of crass anti-Semitism is legendary. Following the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Buchanan said, on national television, “There are only two groups that are beating the drums right now for war in the Middle East, and that is the Israeli defense ministry and its amen corner in the United States.” He has referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory,” and he considers the State of Israel to be “a strategic albatross draped around the neck of the United States.”

After John Cardinal O’Connor had deplored Roman Catholic anti-Semitism, Buchanan declared in a September 1993 speech to the Christian Coalition that, “If U.S. Jewry takes the clucking appeasement of the Catholic cardinalate as indicative of our submission, it is mistaken. When Cardinal O’Connor of New York seeks to soothe the always-irate Elie Wiesel by reassuring him ‘there are many Catholics who are not anti-Semitic’ ... he speaks for himself. Be not afraid, Your Eminence; just step aside, there are bishops and priests ready to assume the role of defender of the faith.”

Buchanan has also been a reliable ally of Holocaust deniers and other Nazi sympathizers. In his March 17, 1990 syndicated column, he wrote that it would have been impossible for Jews to perish in the gas chambers of the Treblinka death camp, and referred to a “so-called Holocaust survivor syndrome” that he described as involving “group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics.” Until I outed him and it in May of 2009, he maintained a Holocaust denial forum on his official website.

And then there is Buchanan’s equally virulent homophobia. In his 1992 keynote address at the Republican National Convention, he railed against “the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.”

No one says that Buchanan is not bright and personable. He is, however, a bigot so far outside the American political mainstream that he should never have been given legitimacy by MSNBC in the first place. Given his history, the only remaining question regarding his firing last week is: what took them so long?

Menachem Z. Rosensaft is vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.  He teaches about the law of genocide and World War II war crimes trials at the law schools of Columbia, Cornell and Syracuse.

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Mr. Rosensaft's article is spot-on. Thank-you for printing it.

No, Mr. Buchanan is much simpler than you think. He is just a classic bigot. What he is saying about today’s immigrants is no different than what said about the Jews, Italians, Greeks, and the Irish one hundred years ago. Go back and read the transcripts of the hearings surrounding the immigration restrictions put into law after World War I. Go back and read the documents of the American eugenics movement.
Mr. Rosensaft did not have to cherry pick Mr. Buchanan’s words to make his point. Mr. Buchanan’s entire body of work proves Mr. Rosensaft’s point.
You confuse true civility for good manners and affability.

You've taken a few quotes and second-hand accounts of his writings from the late 80s and early 90s, spliced them together, and tried to fully define the man by this, and disqualify him from a job he took at MSNBC ten years later.

If you ever read any of his books in their entirety, you would see that Buchanan has much more complex worldview than you give him credit for.

Buchanan has undoubtedly written some spirited columns and taken some views that are occasionally in my view uninformed and ethnocentric. Most political commentators have. He is hated because he discusses something that is no longer allowed to be discussed openly in society without the risk of fierce suppression: ethnicity, religion and race

His latest book "Suicide of a Superpower" asserts that the dominant ethnicity of the US population (European immigrants) will no longer be a majority in the population in 2050 and that this will cause dramatic problems in the American culture (due to the 'Balkanization' of ethnic groups and lack of a single American melting-pot). This is a reasonable concern to have. A nation needs a single culture to be strong (ideally the same culture that created it). In any case it's a view that could have fairly been debated on MSNBC.

Why worry and spend time on this creep Buchanon. He is an Un -American draft dogger and has done much to hurt our country and what it stands for. Let him go back to a country that supports his views, i.e. Iran. Someone advise him that Nazi Germany and Soviet Union have been defeated. Let's move on to important matters. Semper Fi.

William Buckley was an icon of conservatism and he denounced Bucchanan
as an anti Semite. Bucchanan is not typical of most conservatives. In fact most conservatives support Israel

I thank MSNBC for doing the right and honorable decision. However, the hosts of Morning Joe are no better than Mr. Buchanan. David Sarnoff would be turning over in his grave if he could see what is happening to his NBC prodigy.

I have written in the past about Buchanan anti_Semitic slurs, unfortunately they were never attended to.
Problem he is not going to disappear he will continue his ranting as a guest of Mathews and Joe. Remember Nika's old dad is another anti-Semite.
Perhaps Anne Coulter is Next

What took them so long? Isn't it obvious?

They hired him because he is one of the worst possible representatives of conservatism. But for Buchanan's patina of credibility, MSNBC might have hired David Duke instead; note that it did hire Al Sharpton. He has been easy to use as a straw-man for conservativism.

They fired him because the Left, with its undeniably antiIsrael policy, now needs to secure the support of American Jews for Obama's reelection. Sadly, a few meaningless gestures like firing Buchanan will probably do the trick.

I will not shed any tears for Pat Buchanan. I don't think there is any doubt about his enmity for Jews, which he has oratorically put on display over many decades. His central character flaw seems to be excessive love of his verbal dexterity, which he draws on to speak derogatorily about Jews, and other groups, right up to the line of unacceptable hate speech. Although I believe he regularly crosses the line into bigotry, until now, he has been successful in dodging the bullet of the racism/anti-semitism charge. Not any longer. Good bye, Pat. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

Dude, let it go. Your hate is blinding you!