Jonathan Kay Jul 27, 2011 – 3:30 PM ET | Last Updated: Jul 27, 2011 3:32 PM ET
« When Adolf Hitler moved to Vienna as a teenager in 1905, he was not an anti-Semite. Or at least, so he reports in the opening chapters of Mein Kampf: “In the Jew, I still saw a man who was [merely] of a different religion, and, therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I was against the idea that he should be attacked because he had a different faith.”
But this attitude changed when Hitler had a chance to observe Vienna’s Jews, who were more distinct in their dress and habits that the Europeanized Jews of Linz. Hitler claimed that these Jews smelled bad, and seemed un-Germanic in their appearance. In time, he became convinced that Jews were inveterately foul and diseased — a metaphor for their effect on culture and politics. “Here was a pestilence, a moral pestilence, with which the public was being infected. It was worse than the black plague.”
In these few words, plucked from Hitler’s recollections of teenage life, we can glimpse the three delusions that would guide his genocidal project more than three decades later: (1) That the germ theory of disease can be applied to whole societies as well as to individual bodies; (2) That Jews are a deadly pathogen afflicting humanity; and (3) That he’d been ordained by Fate to save human civilization in exterminating this pathogen.
Millions of pre-war Europeans were ignorant enough to believe the first delusion, and hateful enough to believe the second. It was Hitler’s embrace of the third delusion, which is much more rare, that made him a malignant force in European history.
This delusionary triumvirate — ignorance, hate, megalomania — is the calling card of all mass murderers and dark prophets who seek to rid society of some imagined contaminant — whether the targeted group is Jews, gays, blacks, “infidels,” Muslims, kulaks, feminists, or the mentally ill.
Even when the killing is done, such fanatics expect the world to thank them for their campaign to sterilize humanity, in the same manner that one might thank a doctor for amputating a gangrenous leg. In his final political testament, Hitler expressed pride that he had stood up to world Jewry, and wrote that “[Our] six years of war, which in spite of all setbacks will go down one day in history as the most glorious and valiant demonstration of a nation’s life purpose.”
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian killer, similarly defines his killing spree as an act of “martyrdom,” and apparently suffers under the delusion that his actions will be excused once his fellow Norwegians realize that he has saved them from the Islamic bacillus. If Breivik’s embrace of such beliefs qualifies him as “insane,” as his lawyer suggests, then the same adjective applies to Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson.
Where does this obsession with murderous “sterilization” originate? A close reading of Mein Kampf and Breivik’s manifesto gives us a clue.
Like Breivik, Hitler was an extraordinary prude. Large parts of Mein Kampf are given over to declaiming the loose sexual morals he observed in Vienna — an evil he attributed to Jews. He called prostitution “a disgrace to humanity,” and sought its “final extermination.” It was his observation of the Jewish role in “white slave traffic,” he reports, that definitively set him on course to “investigating the Jewish problem.”
I immediately recalled these passages from Mein Kampf when I read Breivik’s manifesto, which contains very similar musings. On page 1170, be begins railing against “female sluts” — whose promiscuous lifestyle, he says, is “glorified by the media through series such as Sex and the City and artists such as Madonna.” This is more or less a modern updating of Hitler’s admonition that: “The whole of our public life may be compared to a hot-house for the forced growth of sexual notions and excitements. A glance at the till-of-fare provided by our cinema, playhouses and theatres [encourages] adolescent yearnings.”
In 2007, a group of scholars speculated that Hitler’s hatred of Jews was connected to a case of syphilis he might have caught from a Jewish prostitute. This is unproven. But Breivik claims that he’s seen the ravages of promiscuity and venereal disease within his own family. His mother, he reports, was infected with genital herpes by her boyfriend (a man that Breivick obviously loathes — and whom is claimed, improbably, to have had “more than 500 sexual partners”). Breivick also says that his half-sister Elisabeth “was infected by chlamydia after having more than 40 sexual partners.”
These developments, whether real or imaginary, clearly had a massive effect on Breivick’s psychology, and became part of his political program. Just as Hitler declared that “The fight against syphilis and its pace-maker, prostitution is one of the gigantic tasks of mankind — [if we fail] little of God’s image will be left in human nature”; the Norwegian killers tells us that “European civilization will not survive if we continue to allow the breakdown of sexual mor[es].”
Hitler’s obsession with prostitution and STDs guided his entire “social reform” program. He urged men to marry young and pure, before they had “sown [their] wild oats.” He also urged that schools adopt a de-sexualized syllabus that promotes “sports and gymnastics” as a means to siphon off sexual energy. Breivick’s own “social reform” agenda (he uses the same term) similarly demands a “restriction in the availability of pro-promiscuous material.”
The similarities go deeper. Hitler wanted a society in which sex for pleasure, and perhaps even love itself, was eradicated from the marriage bed: “Marriage is not an end in itself, but must serve the greater end, which is that of increasing and maintaining the human species and the race. That is its only meaning and purpose.” Breivick, likewise, tells us that the “illusion” of “love” is a dead end for married couples — since love leads to erotic feelings, which encourage wanton sex. Instead, Breivick argues that “a marriage must be forged as an institution for the raising of children.”
In the minds of both Hitler and Breivick, the exact relationship between sexual phobias and murderous hatred is unknowable. But both mean clearly associate the human sexual impulse with filth, disease, shame and weakness. And in both cases, their campaign to “purify” society of some imagined foreign contaminant goes hand-in-hand with a parallel desire to purify human thoughts of lecherous sexuality — with the two campaigns linked by the overarching goal of producing a racially and psychologically wholesome population that is uniformly white, chaste and Godly.
It is a terrible irony that the ultimate evil can originate with men who believe they were delivering the world from evil. But that is the way the fanatic’s mind work. Purity and abomination are two sides of the same coin. » from: National Post firstname.lastname@example.org http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/07/27/jonathan-kay-on-sex-and-slaughter-how-breiviks-sex-phobic-manifesto-echoes-mein-kampf-2/