Gen. John Kelly’s ignorant and racist comments about some esoteric “compromise” existing between Slavery and Freedom, and his declaration that Robert E. Lee was an “honorable man”, have reinforced the horrifying conclusions of the new book published by Yale Law School Comparative Law professor James Q. Whitman, “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.”
Traveling through several East Coast states that had their own racist “Blood Laws” (miscegenation laws, like Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina) to do book readings of my own book, “Tightrope,” I voraciously read Whitman’s disturbing new findings.
Whitman’s astonishing and terrifying book carefully documents–through never before published material and verbatim transcripts –how the Nazis, as early as 1920, were inspired by the U.S’s Jim Crow laws–racist laws in 30 American States, and America’s anti-immigrant laws of the early 1900’s. The Nazis were so inspired by these American laws reflecting our “racial madness” that they based the Nuremberg Laws upon them–which resulted in systematic dehumanization and eventual annihilation of 6 million Jews.
The great Bill Moyers tipped me off to the book in a startling interview with Professor Whitman, and I read “Hitler’s American Model” while traveling through Maryland, a state which had statutory penalties of up to TEN YEARS IN PRISON, if a white person married a black person.
New legal documents uncovered by Whitman of debates among Nazi lawyers drafting early versions of the Nuremberg Laws, reveal that even the most radical Nazis thought that America’s anti-miscegenation laws “went too far.” Let that sink in for a moment: that’s the NAZIS , believing that Maryland went too far in it’s “race madness,” by criminalizing interracial marriage.
I finished Whitman’s book while staying in a hotel in Fredericksburg, VA, off of Jefferson Davis Highway, a major interstate named for the President of the Confederacy, a violent army of White Supremacists, who committed armed treason against the United States. Fredericksburg is, as many local residents are proud to tell you, the area of several key battles in the Civil War, including the Battle of Fredericksburg, where Southern Confederate Troops–fighting to preserve slavery and keep institutionalized racism–slaughtered thousands of Union Troops who gave up their lives to set people free. The General who commanded the slaughter of American troops– men who gave their lives to protect the U.S. Constitution and the dignity of all human beings– was Robert E. Lee, whom Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly has called an “honorable man.”
By Kelly’s standard, Gen. Benedict Arnold is an “honorable man” as well.
The continuing “racial madness” of the Confederacy–including the fighting of a civil war which killed 600,000 Americans, served as one of the inspirations to the Nazis when they crafted the Nuremberg Laws. But the U.S. Civil War, and America’s racist laws, weren’t the only inspirations for the Nazis that were made in the USA.
Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf how thrilled he was by the United States willingness to commit genocide against Native Americans in order to achieve America’s “Manifest Destiny” and acquire new territory. The Nazi’s would later use America’s “gunning down of redskins” (Hitler’s own words) as well as the blatantly racist Immigration Act of 1924 that discriminated against any but those from Nordic nations, as justification for murdering 6 million Jews and many others. In fact, in many cases, Nazi jurists–steeped in decades of conservative German jurisprudence–thought that America’s racist laws went much too far, even for Nazi Germany.
Apparently, Gen. Kelly hasn’t learned that dark part of American or world history, and has forgotten what hundreds of thousands of American Veterans–from the Civil War, through two World Wars, and Wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, fought and died for. There is NO compromise between slavery and freedom. And, those who fight to enslave people–whether they are Generals like Robert E. Lee or Ho Chi Minh–are not “honorable people.”