A sane person would ask, what's the evidence against Gorka? Apparently, claims of Gorka's Nazi sympathies originated with a picture of Gorka wearing a medal from a Hungarian military order, Vitezi Rend, at the inaugural ball. The source? A blog post by The Nation's Eli Clifton (for Clifton's blog post, see here, for Clifton's bio in The Nation, see here). Clifton fancifully speculated that the medal had possibly been awarded to Gorka's grandfather while collaborating with the Nazis during the Second World War. Clifton's conjecture was picked up by the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hatewatch" page (see here), and distributed widely by the likes of the Talking Points Memo, Chelsea Clinton, The Times of Israel, etc., and was subsequently aired by the cable networks.
Here's the problem with Clifton's claim -- it isn't true.
As noted by Joel B. Pollack, Gorka received the medal from his father, who was recognized for his anti-communist efforts during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, which resulted in the elder Gorka's betrayal, arrest, and torture (see here). Case closed, right? No. Clifton doubled down by looking for other "evidence" that Gorka is a Nazi sympathizer, but not in anything Gorka said or wrote -- that type of hard evidence doesn't exist. Instead, Clifton focused on "indirect" evidence of Gorka's Nazi sympathies, such as what was not said during the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, and Gorka's subsequent comments in defense of the statement.
Wait a minute, Cowboy -- are you suggesting that Trump's administration is being called anti-semitic on the basis of something that wasn't said? Yes. That is correct.
The Trump Administration's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement provides a classic case study of what constitutes regressive leftist "evidence" of Nazi sympathies (see here). The statement:
It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror. Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent. In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.Regressive leftist charges of anti-semitism followed. The Atlantic claimed that not specifically using the word "Jews" in the statement indicated an effort by the administration to "de-Judiaze" the Holocaust narrative -- "classic soft-core denial" (see here). In an interview, Gorka characterized the allegations of anti-semitism as "asinine" and "absurd." Yet, despite repeated clarifications by multiple members of the Trump administration that the statement was not intended to somehow diminish the suffering of the Jewish people, Clifton isolated Gorka's defense of the statement as somehow unique. Additionally, the entire premise of Clifton's allegations relied on the assumption that the statement, by virtue of not including the word "Jews," was anti-semitic. I'll let the reader decide.
This type of "indirect" evidence of the administration's anti-semitism has become a common theme in the regressive leftist's narrative, as shown in the media campaign against Steve Bannon, and more recently, Sean Spicer. Vox has even published "A Brief History of the Trump Administration's Flirtation with Holocaust Denial," which is a compilation of the "dog-whistle" evidence of the administration's "anti-semitism" (see here). What's the common theme in these arguments? No actual evidence of anti-semitism. The charges are a complete fabrication.
Clifton also included other pieces of "indirect" evidence of Gorka's Nazi sympathies while investigating the history of the Vitezi Rend. The Vitezi Rend knightly order -- a Hungarian nationalist organization -- was created after the First World War (see here). Although the Vitezi Rend opposed pro-Nazi paramilitary orders prior to the German occupation, revisionist historians have pointed out that the founder of the order, and Hungary’s interwar governor, admiral Miklós Horthy, expressed anti-semitism in a private letter; also, the order did not allow those of Jewish ancestry into its ranks. This is as close as Clifton gets to making any substantive connection between Gorka, the medal, and anti-semitism, which falls apart immediately when one considers the lack of any evidence linking the Gorka family to Nazi collaboration, and considering the concrete fact that Gorka's father was knighted in the context of the Cold War Hungarian anti-Soviet resistance movement.
To summarize: Clifton contends that Gorka's choice to wear his father's medal to the inaugural, combined with the fact that Gorka defended the Trump administration's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, must be seen as "indirect evidence" of Gorka's, and by association, the Trump administration's, "flirtations with anti-Semitism and the alt-right." Hmm...
So what is the root source of the left's never ending charges of anti-semitism, Nazism, and fascism? The closing comments in the Atlantic article are revealing in this regard, as the piece laments that the president's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement came on the "same day as the order banning refugees." In other words, this isn't at all about the plight of European Jews during the Second World War. It's not about Jewish people, or the state of Israel, in the present. So what is this really about?
It could be born of a concern to prevent atrocities, but where was the left's outrage when radical Islamic terrorists raped and killed Iraqi, Syrian, and Egyptian Christian minorities? Crickets. Perhaps it is a devout concern to preserve the memory of the Holocaust? However, the Holocaust deniers that I'm aware of, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, are quite open about it, but somehow escape the left's critical gaze. While I'm considering these contradictions -- why can't regressive leftists see the contradiction between condemning the "evil patriarchy" in the West, while hailing the hijab as a symbol of liberation?
Love, you see, can be blind and irrational. The regressive left is upset that the Trump administration intends to thwart the Obama administration's efforts to settle significant numbers of inadequately vetted Syrian refugees in the United States. This is about the regressive left's love affair with Islam, and the potential they once saw for mass immigration to change domestic cultural and electoral dynamics. Once that is understood, the rest comes into focus. It is a story of dashed dreams and thwarted love -- perhaps this is the painful source of the regressive left's grand delusion that Nazis are everywhere.
- The Cowboy Historian