Trayon White: A disgrace even by the usual Democratic city government standards

Trayon White

Is he dumber than he is anti-Semitic, or more anti-Semitic than he is dumb? Your call.

First, on March 16 of this year, Trayon White, a member of the city council in Washington, D.C., posted a Facebook video of a snowfall along with a comment of his own suggesting that “the Rothschilds” are “controlling the climate to create natural disasters that they can pay for to own the cities, man.” It soon emerged that this was not the first time he had expressed the opinion that Jews run the weather.

Baron David René de Rothschild, current French chairman of N. M. Rothschild & Sons

International outrage led him to issue an apology. No sooner had the leaders of Jewish organizations accepted the apology and claimed to regard it as sincere did the City Council release video of a February 27 breakfast event at which White had accused the Rothschilds of controlling the federal government and World Bank. White apologized for this, too, writing that “Somehow, I read and misconstrued both the Rockefeller and Rothchild [sic] theories. At that breakfast, I indeed misspoke, was really misinformed on the issue and ran with false information. I think I heard other similar information before about the theory around the World Bank and put it all together.” Makes sense to us! No, seriously, let bygones be bygones. No reason to deprive the people of Washington of such a stellar intellect simply because he got a little confused.

The late Mayor Marion Barry

White, by the way, is a protégé of late Washington mayor Marion Barry, most famous for having been convicted of smoking crack. White is also a former member of the U.S. capital’s Board of Education, which to anyone familiar with public education in D.C. will not be all that surprising. He’s also donated money to Louis Farrakhan’s rabidly Jew-hating Nation of Islam. 

Anyway, after his Rothschild remarks, White, as an act of “conciliation” with the Jewish community – i.e., a PR move – agreed to take a 90-minute guided tour of the Holocaust Museum. Great idea, right? Nope.

U.S. Holocaust Museum

As the Daily Mail reported, when he saw a 1937 picture of “a woman surrounded by Nazi soldiers with a sign hanging from her neck that read: ‘I am a German girl and allowed myself to be defiled by a Jew,’ White asked, ‘Are they protecting her?’” The tour guide explained that they were not: they were marching her down the street to shame her. “Marching through,” replied White, “is protecting.” The guide, with what reads like a patience that passeth all understanding, said, “I think they’re humiliating her.”

And then, 90 minutes apparently being too much of a test of his attention span, he left the tour before it was over. He claimed to have a meeting to get to, but was later “seen walking around aimlessly outside of the museum.” Meanwhile one of his aides, who had decided to stick with the tour to the end, replied to a mini-lesson about the Warsaw ghetto by asking if it was like “a gated community.”

Rafael Shimunov

If there was anything more reprehensible than White’s unashamed display of bigotry and ignorance, it was the readiness of some members of the Washington, D.C., Jewish community to stand by him. In the Forward, Rafael Shimunov, an official of the Working Families Party, co-founder of ResistHere, and veteran of a long list of left-wing activist groups, argued that “many in the DC community and the Jewish community need to examine how easily they found themselves mocking a black man who has devoted his life to the public service of America’s most vulnerable.” Nice try, but no dice. It is preposterous that a fool and knave like White can hold high elective office in Washington, D.C. The best thing he can do to serve“ America’s most vulnerable” is to quit his job and work for the election of somebody with a minimally acceptable I.Q., education, level of intellectual curiosity, and moral compass. 

The Red Cross and the Nazis: a dark chapter

Gerald Steinacher

Sometimes the people who end up being useful stooges can be those who have – or who think they have – the noblest of intentions. A new book by University of Nebraska historian Gerald Steinacher, Humanitarians at War, draws attention to the lamentable conduct of the International Committee of the Red Cross during World War II. Founded in 1863, the ICRC was responsible for the conference that first formulated the Geneva Conventions, and during the wars that followed was permitted by all belligerents to operate behind their lines and take care of wounded soldiers and prisoners of war. The Red Cross, it must be said, was a remarkably modern and humanitarian conception.

Carl Jacob Burckhardt

But the execution has not always matched the conception. The ICRC’s record is not spotless, and the worst chapter in its entire history undoubtedly came during the Holocaust, when the ICRC was under the de facto leadership of its official second-in-command, Carl Jacob Burckhardt (its president, Max Huber, was largely out of commission during that period), a Swiss diplomat and anti-Semite. As Samuel Moyn, a professor of law and history at Yale, notes in a recent review of Steinacher’s book for the Wall Street Journal, Burckhardt’s fear of Communism caused him to view Nazism “as a bulwark of civilization and a necessary evil.” Although the ICRC, since 1933, had been receiving letters from German concentration camps making it clear just how horrible the treatment of inmates was, Burckhardt was determined to keep a lid on it all, praising the commandant of Dachau, for example, “for his discipline and decency.”

That was just the beginning. Not long after the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which Nazi leaders agreed on the objective of exterminating the Jews of Europe, the ICRC became aware of this resolution. But it said nothing about it and did nothing about it.

Samuel Moyn

To be sure, it could be argued that there was little or nothing the ICRC could have done to prevent the execution of Hitler’s Final Solution. But Burckhardt’s problematic attitude persisted after the war. Silent on the Holocaust, he spoke up against the Nuremberg trials, calling them “Jewish revenge.” “Red Cross officials,” writes Moyn, “attempted to whitewash the record of Nuremberg defendant and high-ranking Nazi diplomat Ernst von Weizsäcker. After the Holocaust, the ICRC—by then helmed by Burckhardt—even abetted the flight of Nazis such as Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele by providing them with travel papers.”

Adolf Eichmann

It has been known for a long time that the ICRC helped Nazis escape Europe; at first, the ICRC’s excuse was that a relatively small number of Nazis had successfully misrepresented themselves as innocent refugees and taken advantage of an overburdened Red Cross bureaucracy to evade justice. But Steinacher’s research on the subject, published in his 2011 book Nazis on the Run, showed that the numbers of Nazis helped in this fashion by the ICRC – as well as by the Vatican – were “much higher than thought.” Thanks to the ICRC, in fact, no fewer than “90% of ex-Nazis fled via Italy, mostly to Spain, and North and South America – notably Argentina.” As Steinacher has documented, individual ICRC officials and local ICRC delegations in Europe knowingly held out a helping hand to Hitler’s former henchmen. Their motives varied: some were acting “out of sympathy for individuals”; others had sympathy for the Nazi cause. Whatever the case, the Nazi chapter of the ICRC’s history is a profoundly tainted one, serving as a salutary reminder that even the most pristine of images can be seriously deceptive.

The Master Race’s master builder

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Albert Speer on trial in Nuremberg

Leni Riefenstahl was an intimate friend of Hitler’s, and sculptor Arno Breker was like a son to him; but the artist who worked most closely of all with the Führer, and whose oeuvre is most inextricable from the Third Reich project, was Albert Speer.

A Nazi Party member since 1931, Speer was tapped by Hitler two years later to oversee the artistic and technical design of Nazi rallies. In 1934, Hitler, who saw Speer as a “kindred spirit,” made him the Party’s chief architect; in 1937, he put him in charge of inspecting buildings in Berlin. Speer designed the Zeppelinfeld stadium (where the annual Nuremberg rallies took place), the German pavilion for a world exposition in Paris, and a new Reich Chancellery. His biggest assignment of all – though it never came to fruition – was almost certainly the most massive architectural enterprise ever conceived. The goal was nothing less than to design an entirely new Berlin.

Speer showing Hitler his design for the German pavilion at the 1937 Paris exposition

The thoroughly transformed city would be called Germania, and would be the capital not only of Germany but of the whole civilized world, once it came under Hitler’s thumb. There would be new airports, two new railroad stations, four new ring roads, and new suburbs big enough to house 200,000 people. A building called the Grand Hall would have been the world’s largest enclosed space, with a dome sixteen times the size of St. Peter’s Basilica. Unveiled in January 1938, the plans for Germania – which envisioned a gleaming metropolis of white stone that was reminiscent of ancient Rome – provided a vivid measure of the scale of Hitler’s ambition, not to say megalomania. The demolition work necessary to clear the ground for the construction of Germania was carried out by about 130,000 prisoners of war and forced laborers between 1939 and 1942.

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Hitler and Speer inspect a scale model of Germania

Riefenstahl was able to get off scot-free after the war; not Speer. Tried for war crimes at Nuremberg, he was found guilty, but the judges bought his claim to have been unaware of the Holocaust while it was underway and thus sentenced him only to twenty years in prison instead of death by hanging. Not until 2007, sixteen years after his death, did a letter emerge, written by Speer in 1971, in which he admitted to having attended a speech by Gestapo and SS chief Heinrich Himmler outlining plans for the Holocaust. In short, he had known about the extermination of the Jews all along – and it was foolish of anyone to have believed otherwise.

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Germania

But they did believe. And consequently, during his prison years and afterwards, Speer underwent an considerable image boost. He came to be viewed as the “good Nazi” – as a gifted architect who had simply found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was sheer nonsense. Speer, as noted, had joined the Nazi Party early on. Although he lied about his knowledge of the Holocaust, he never denied having been an ardent believer in Hitler and a fervent supporter of the war. He looked forward to a world run by his Führer; their glorious plans for Germania, after all, would only have made sense if the city was the capital of the entire Western world.

Speer knew, then, the nature of the man he served; and he approved of that man, and dedicated his art to the singular task of glorifying him. He was no victim of circumstance, but a conscious instrument of evil – a stooge of the first order.