Higgins: Out of uniformWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In what must be considered a true “Man Bites Dog” story, a Northwest Ohio political aspirant was caught with his pants on. Well, they were not his pants exactly, but they were pants and they were on. So was his shirt and jacket, all part of a uniform. What made this story worthy of national attention, however, was that Republican congressional candidate Rich Iott was wearing not just any uniform, but that of the Waffen SS, a member of the German army … you know, a Nazi. (For the uninitiated, calling someone a sexist, a racist or a Nazi during a campaign is the equivalent of political character assassination, a death from which few candidates recover.)
No one is accusing Iott of being a member of the Nazi Party, a Nazi sympathizer or someone who subscribes to Nazi philosophy, at least not directly. It seems the reason Iott was wearing this uniform is that he is a member of a military re-enactment organization called Wiking. In the process of the military re-enactments he has participated in, he has likewise worn the uniforms of a Union Civil War soldier, an American “doughboy” of World War I, and an American paratrooper in World War II.
One cannot help but wonder why The Atlantic felt compelled to use the pictures of German re-enactors and only these pictures in the article published. The fact that its author, Joshua Green, a senior editor of the magazine and a political columnist for The Boston Globe, has often written in defense of liberal causes and candidates and had little good to say of their more conservative counterparts and opponents has nothing to do with this, I’m sure.
More importantly however, one cannot help but wonder about the lack of discussion of the uniform displayed by his Democratic opponent. Marcy Kaptur proudly wears the uniform of a serving member of Congress these days — a uniform which has seen the tax-and-spend philosophy taken to new heights— has committed the greatest encroachment on freedom of choice (the choice of whether or not to purchase health care insurance) since Lincoln unconstitutionally did away with habeas corpus during the Civil War, and a phenomenal increase in the level of the national debt. Kaptur’s terms in office in particular have redefined the concept of congressional earmarks, and questionable campaign contributions from those receiving them (not to mention causing a run on the printing of huge checks).
I don’t normally like to weigh in on specific political races, but feel compelled to do so in this case. Even though this is a race that I am not eligible to vote in, I find that I have to look at myself in the mirror in the morning while shaving (even if it’s only to trim around the edges). The Atlantic article and the subsequent attention it has drawn is the worst form of journalistic bias and a blatant attempt at electioneering by painting a candidate, not with the facts, but with a bit of barely concealed slander.
While having no sympathy for anything having to do with the Nazi philosophy or the abuses committed not only on Jews, but on Gypsies, Catholics and homosexuals during Word War II, I find that I do have a little respect for Iott in wearing the uniform. There is a certain courage in taking up the accoutrements of the losing side, knowing that if the game is played by the rules, you will be the one falling in battle.
Of course, many feel that this is typecasting, since Iott is not expected to win the battle with an opposing force firmly entrenched in the high ground of incumbency. Even so, Iott takes up the uniform of a conservative and a Republican, ones not particularly endearing or respected in Northwest Ohio. He may not win this battle either, but I suspect that he will fight the battle to the end nonetheless. We may yet be surprised however, and it may in fact be Marcy Kaptur who is found out of uniform.