The estimable Uwe Siemon-Netto, the UPI religion editor and a Lutheran, comes to the defense of Pope Benedict against scurrilous charges that he is a “Nazi pope.” The sobriquet is not just offensive to the pope and to Catholics, but to all Germans who had to endure the Nazi stigma for 60 years. The garbage spouted by crackpot bloggers and mainstream pundits alike is no less than expected, I suppose, but evinces a more widespread anti-Germanism that has not abated through the years, as Siemon-Netto points out.
Before Ratzinger’s elevation to the papacy, the worst outburst of Germanophobia in the United States occurred on July 25, 2000, when an Air France Concorde crashed in Paris, killing more than 100 passengers, mainly German tourists. Jubilant messages celebrating the “German barbecue” filled America Online’s chat rooms. When this correspondent protested to AOL he received no reply, and the abuse was not stopped.
The irony is that Jewish groups (other than the most liberal ones) recognize that Pope Benedict is a friend of Jews, not an enemy.
The Jerusalem Post newspaper cleared him of any culpability and ridiculed those who suggest that pope Benedict was a closet Nazi. It mocked people accusing him of being a “theological anti-Semite for believing in Jesus so strongly that—gasp!—he thinks anyone, even Jews, should accept him as the Messiah.” Added the Post, “To all this we should say, ‘This is news?’”
Responding to the accusations that Benefict is a Nazi pope, the ADL leaps to his defense.
“We reject that outright,” ADL spokeswoman Mryna Shinebaum told UPI. Her national director, Abraham H. Foxman, had welcomed Ratzinger’s election. ” Cardinal Ratzinger has great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust. He has shown this sensitivity countless times,” Foxman stated.
Recall that Foxman is no shrinking violet when it comes to perceived insults to Judaism. He was the most shrill Jewish critic of The Passion of the Christ when it came out.
But it was the New York Times that took the cake as the most prominent publication to give space for the Nazi pope accusation. The newspaper posted a letter in its Readers’ Opinion section that used the term.
“This calls for another insulin shot,” fumed Baroni, [former editor and publisher of an American German-language newspaper]. “It would clearly be abusive if you labeled a black man with the ‘N word,’” he said. “But in the Times’ mindset there’s evidently nothing defamatory about calling a German pope a Nazi—in other words a member of a species guilty of a genocide.”