(left) Hitler and Röhm in happier days; (right) List of leading members of the SA arrested on June 30, 1934, and taken to Stadelheim prison in Munich. Rohm’s name is eighth from the bottom. (Both images are from Wikimedia Commons, and are either in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license)

They’re coming for you, too

Ivonne Rovira
Ivonne Rovira

There are Republican quislings who think that the extremists aren’t coming for them. How wrong they are! It’s already started. Now that the Christian Nationalists can taste victory, they really don’t need their useful idiots any longer.

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One of my very favorite songs of all time is Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart’s “The Last Day of June 1934.” The song details what became known as the Night of the Long Knives: On June 30, 1934, Adolph Hitler launched the arrests of his heretofore ally, Ernst Röhm, and Röhm’s associates; on July 2, Röhm was executed.

On the night that Ernst Röhm died voices rang out
In the rolling Bavarian hills
And swept through the cities and danced in the gutters,
Grown strong like the joining of wills.
Oh, echoed away like a roar in the distance
In moonlight carved out of steel
Singing, “All the lonely, so long and so long.
You don’t know how I long, how I long.
You can't hold me, I'm strong now I’m strong,
Stronger than your law.”

Hitler and his confederates Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich assembled trumped-up charges that Röhm was a French agent intending to overthrow Hitler. Röhm was long known to be gay, but he never believed that Hitler would have him killed over it, although that became an additional charge. Röhm favored nationalizing of industry and confiscating the estates of the aristocracy — living up to the “socialism” in National Socialism — and Hitler didn’t want to deliver.

But the song is set during the day of June 30, before the Night of the Long Knives began. It’s a song about folks across Europe going about their everyday lives on a fine summer day, without any idea of the horrors that awaited them. No one had any idea, not even Röhm – until he was arrested that morning.

Röhm’s misplaced trust was understandable. As Hitler’s close friend, he helped create the Stormtroopers and became their commander. His contacts in the German far right turned out the 100,000 participants for Hitler’s Germany Day in September 1923. He even raised the money that made the Nazi Party possible. But when Röhm’s Stormtroopers reached 3 million members, Hitler thought it was time to act.

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Republican punditry contains a lot of people who don’t see the danger to them coming in the nascent Christian Nationalism. Once Hitler didn’t need Röhm anymore, he was discarded. Already, thinking that victory is assured, the Far Right has openly turned on the gays, Jews, and particularly the gay Jews in their midst.

Let’s start with Dave Rubin, both Jewish and gay. Once at The Young Turks, Rubin claimed to have had a change of heart and then came into a more lucrative position on the Right. (He’s now estimated to be worth $12 million.) He recently fell in with the “OK, groomer” smear — never mind that the groomer smear is most often deployed against gays and their advocates. But his fair-weather friends have turned on him for marrying a man and seeking to create a family via a surrogate. Rubin’s fellow Jew Ben Shapiro told Rubin to his face that he’d boycott Rubin’s wedding and wouldn’t even attend an anniversary party. With friends like these, Rubin doesn’t need enemies.

But Ben Shapiro shouldn’t be so smug. His so-called friends on the right don’t like him, either. The CEO of Gab — another low-rent, right-wing version of Twitter — is Andrew Torba, who moonlights as a political consultant for Doug Mastriano, the extremist GOP candidate for Pennsylvania governor. On July 15, Torba said that “There’s no other path” for American than Christian Nationalism, according to Right Wing Watch.

He then went on to say that there was no room for Jews — mentioning Rubin and Shapiro by name — in the conservative movement. He said:

They’re not Christian. They don’t share our values. They have inverted values from us as Christians. So don’t fall for the bait. Don’t fall for the bait of Populism Inc. Don’t fall for the bait of this pseudo-conservatism, big-tent nonsense. This is a Christian movement, and this movement needs to be centered on the gospel and truth of God’s word and of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior and King. That is the only way that this is going to work ….

This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country. From its founding, throughout its entire history, it has been an explicitly Christian country, and people are starting to remember that, and that needs to be the focal point of this movement.

Yikes!

On July 25, Torba, unsurprisingly, doubled down: “We don't want people who are atheists. We don’t want people who are Jewish. We don’t want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever. This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country. ... Ben Shapiro is not welcome in the movement unless he repents and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior.”

Torba’s rant comes a year after CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) canceled its hip-hop darling Young Pharoah after he called Judaism “all a complete #lie … completely made up for #political gain.” Inexplicably, Young Pharoah claimed that neither Jews or Hebrew ever existed, and that the “thieving fake Jews” stole the word Amen from the Egyptians. (I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

Ernst Röhm thought Hitler would come after other people: Jews, Gypsies, socialists, communists, anarchists, trade unionists, the intelligentsia. It never occurred to Röhm that Hitler would come for him. Dave Rubin, über-libertarian tech billionaire Peter Thiel, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and the rest of the Log Cabin Republicans really think that they can get the homophobic juggernaut to turn around. Ben Shapiro, pretend-professor Dennis Prager, shock radio host Mark Levin, New York gubernational candidate Lee Zeldin, and other GOP Jews think they can stave off the upcoming pogrom — despite the historical precedent and the fact that the GOP is awash in Christian Nationalism and antisemitism.

You can always count on Marjorie Taylor Greene to say the quiet parts out loud, and she’s on a crusade — pardon the pun — on behalf of Christian Nationalism. If she’s pushing the envelope, Christian Nationalism — like anti-vax hysteria, the Big Lie, the “groomer” projection, book censorship, and the anti-CRT campaign — is about to go mainstream.

The sad thing is that, like Ernst Röhm, Republican gays or Jews will be surprised when the inevitable happens. They shouldn’t be.

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Commentary

Ivonne Rovira

Ivonne is the research director for Save Our Schools Kentucky. She previously worked for The Miami Herald, the Miami News, and The Associated Press. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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