Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Moral Inversions of Günter Grass

Grass at 16 (right) in his Waffen SS uniform.
The gigantic conceit of Günter Grass, that he took such a courageous step by daring to tell it like it is -- that Israel threatens to annihilate the Iranian people -- is an echo of Europe's clown jester/philosopher Slavoj Zizek's gigantic conceit that the greatest danger today is anti-Antisemitism because it muzzles criticism of Zionism and the perfidious actions of the Jewish state. The forces of Jewish power are amassed against the consciences of Europe's deep thinkers and something had to be said to prevent the Iranian holocaust. If only Grass had published his poem during Purim, what a field day the topsy-turvies would have had with that.

Moral inversions abound and are described brilliantly by Sarah Honig in Another Tack: The German Robbed Cossack. They have had a long history of preparing the ground leading to Ahmedinejad's calls for Israel's extinction. She presents, for example, Leo Tolstoy's response to various entreaties by Jews to speak out against the Russian pogroms. Tolstoy was annoyed; the Jews have brought it upon themselves and must behave better. “The Jews must, for their own good, conduct themselves by the universal principle of ‘do onto others as you would have them do to you.’ They must resist the government living lives of grace, which precludes not only violence against others, but also the partaking in acts of violence.”

As Honig writes: "Given the background of Eastern Europe’s downtrodden Jewry, such ’turn-the-other-cheek’ sermons appear chillingly pitiless (to say the least) because all the Jews had been doing was turning the other cheek. Taken in a broader context, Tolstoy argued against Jewish self-defense before any self-defense was actually attempted. Jews, Tolstoy in effect said, share culpability for their tribulations, must suffer quietly and cannot rise to protect themselves."

For Grass and others throughout history, "Anti-Semites – whether they specialized in mere pogroms or outright Holocausts – habitually portrayed themselves as the aggrieved side."
Grass, "Like Tolstoy before him, demand they do nothing to defend themselves. If they do, they become, in Grass’s idiom, ‘the greatest danger to the world.’ It’s Israel that threatens Iran and not vice versa. By his criteria, our forebears threatened Egypt’s pharaohs, the Amalekites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, Haman’s Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusader marauders, Muslim conquistadors, Spanish inquisitors, Chmielnicki’s Ukrainian mass-murderers, Russian pogromchiks, to say nothing of the Germans, whose fuehrer always screamed hysterically about the danger posed to the world by ‘the forces of International Judaism,’ compelling him to formulate a ‘final solution’ to their problem."

In Grass and the Sueddeutsche Newspaper, Dr. Clemens Heni  notices another aspect of the inversion: "In the very beginning of his text Grass portrays himself and all of ‘us’ as possible ‘survivors’ of a hypothetical future war. Intentionally or not, Grass uses a term reserved for Jewish survivors of the Shoah. He is portraying himself as a possible victim of Jews, projecting his own guilt onto the victims." 

Yet, as Heni posits, "Some might argue that Jews and the state of Israel are living in a pre-Holocaust time due to the fact that Iranian President Ahmadinejad said on October 26, 2005, at a conference in Teheran about ‘A World without Zionism,’ that Israel must be ‘wiped off the map.’”

Bernard-Henri Levy catches another inversion in Grass’s fear that Israel will force Germany's complicity in a potential Iranian holocaust because of it's sale of nuclear submarines to the Jews"Germans are 'already sufficiently burdened' (one wonders with what) without becoming, what's more, 'complicit' in the present and future 'crimes' of Israel."

And then there is the useful idiot, Larry Derfner, defending Grass in +972, the Israeli anti-Zionist website often cited by the NYTimes: “Gunter Grass told the truth, he was brave in telling it, he was brave in admitting that he’d been drafted into the Waffen SS as a teenager, and by speaking out against an Israeli attack on Iran, he’s doing this country a great service at some personal cost while most Israelis and American Jews are safely following the herd behind Bibi over the cliff.”

How cunning the use of 'following the herd behind Bibi'. Does that not have a whiff of Jews going sheepishly to their deaths? And isn't it grand of the former Nazi to warn them of the danger?


  1. "Comments are moderated so kindly keep it clean and respectful. All racisms -- including anti-Muslim hate speech --will be denied a place here, as well as terms like Nazi used to designate anyone other than an actual living or past member of a Nazi or neo-Nazi organization."

    Okay, in this case I can say it. The guy is a Nazi.


  2. Stan, I know that was very satisfying. It's great using the term for its undiluted, original, unequivocal, non-relative meaning. for the term 'fascist', I'm rather more lenient.

  3. Just make sure your photo captions are absolutely correct: that's not an SS uniform but Labour Service and the Right and deniers and anti-semites just love to get you on the minor stuff.


Comments are moderated so kindly keep it clean and respectful. All racisms -- including anti-Muslim hate speech -- will be denied a place here, as well as terms like Nazi used to designate anyone other than an actual living or past member of a Nazi or neo-Nazi organization.