Monthly Archives: January 2005

Card Games

And in the 1930’s, this man who believed that art ranked above all else took a bizarre and, he later conceded, deeply mistaken detour into right-wing politics, suspending his career to work on behalf of Gov. Huey P. Long of Louisiana and later the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, and expressing more than passing admiration for Hitler.

So reads the most interesting passage from Philip Johnson’s obituary in the “New York Times”

And what are we to make of it exactly, sitting there amid the list of personal achievements of an admittedly ambitious and influential man? A “youthful indiscretion” perchance? Or maybe something more. Maybe something having to do with the nature of power that the craft of architecture reflects.

In any even, this death and this obituary passage couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment in that we’re evidently “celebrating” the anniversary of Auschwitz – a singularly bizarre occasion inspiring one of the death camp’s survivors to note

“The message today is: No more Auschwitz,” Jozefiak said. “But the world has learned nothing so far — you see they are fighting and killing each other everywhere in the world.
“Today they are saying a lot because of the anniversary, but tomorrow they will forget,” he warned.

Forget? Does anyone actually remember? Is Auschwitz just a word? Just a detail? There have been many films about what went on some famous others obscure, still others quite novel in their approach. But the common denominator is the isolation of the Nazi era as an unprecedented,and therefore discreet unit.

True there are any number of utterly unique things about the Holocaust. And one can say without fear of contration that it’s hard to imagine an occasion in human hisotry when slaughter became so systematized. But is unsystematic slaughter therefore a lesser sin? And does the fact that no cinematic record exists of the crimes engineered by the United States government in Latin and Central America make them any less horrifying and reprehensible? Moreover does Hitler’s name spring too glibly to some minds as some might charge in this instance :

Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel’s popularity to Adolf Hitler’s popular election to run Germany before World War II.
Turner made those fiery comments in his first address at the National Association for Television Programming Executives’ conference since he was ousted from Time Warner Inc. five years ago

The 66-year-old billionaire, who leveraged a television station in Atlanta into a media empire, made the comment before a standing-room-only crowd at NATPE’s opening session Tuesday.
His no-nonsense, sometimes humorous, approach during the one-hour Q&A generated frequent loud applause and laughter

Needless to say there are many who would readily agree with him. Consequently it’s with great irony one fins this in the Auschwitz coverage:

Earlier in Krakow, Cheney noted that the Holocaust did not happen in some far-off place but “in the heart of the civilized world.”
“The story of the camps shows that evil is real and must be called by its name and must be confronted,” he said.

And the evil of the Bush administration must be called by its right name as well in which instance recourse to “the Nazi Card,” is insifficient.
One must be more specific. After all, thanks to Mel Gibson’s NASCAR Jesus, anti-semitism has been made theologically respectable, if not Oscar-worthy.

Moreover, others are “playing cards” – and not without reason.

Or accuracy.