As Avalon Floyd* points out, the election of Inquisition honcho Josef Ratzinger as Pope continues a depressing trend toward bellicose hardliners and authoritarian control freaks in positions of world power. We've got Bush in the White House; Putin in the Kremlin; Blair cruising back to No. 10 (even though the mere mention of his name induces dry heaves in 75 percent of the British population); Sharon in Israel; the mullahs in Tehran; Mubarak in Egypt; the sinister clown Berlusconi in Italy; Mugabe in Zimbabwe; the election-fixing Fox in Mexico; the House of Saud; Lukashenko in Minsk; the Burma Shavers; the mass executioners in China and so on.
And now we get the first Nazi soldier ever chosen by God to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten son, Jesus Herbert Walker Christ. After a compulsory turn in the Hitler Youth, the new Pope served in an anti-aircraft unit protecting a BMW plant staffed by slave labor from Dachau, The Times of London reports. The Holy Father was then sent to Hungary where, as the Times notes, he set tank traps to repel Allied liberators and watched Jews being marched off to extermination camps. Ratzinger insists he never fired a shot in wartime – because of a "badly infected finger," and anyway, there was nothing he could do: "Resistance was truly impossible," says his brother, Georg.
But neighbors in the Ratzinger's hometown of Traunstein see things differently. "It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others," said Elizabeth Lohner, whose brother-in-law was imprisoned as a conscientious objector. Other locals remember hiding anti-Nazi resistance fighters. And as the Times points out, one might also contrast the new pope's go-along, get-along stance toward the Nazis with that of his predecessor, who took part in secret anti-Nazi agitprop in occupied Poland.
Oh well. The quality of mercy is not strained and all that, and we're sure the Sacred Daddy is real sorry now about serving the Nazis. And we can perhaps take some comfort in the fact that he believes that George W. Bush is going straight to hell. For as His Ratzingerness solemnly declared in 2000: "Only in the Catholic Church is there eternal salvation." So John Kerry gets in – Martin Sheen too! – but Bush, Cheney, Tom DeLay, James Dobson and all those other faith-based funsters of Protestant hue are going to crackle on the grill of Gehenna. Left behind, boys, left behind!
For more on this theme, see Max Blumenthal.
(*Never heard of Avalon Floyd? You will. Our junior associate – a published poet and seasoned newspaper polemicist – is just beginning to make her mark.)