For nearly 30 years, an English-language edition of Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, has sat on my bookshelf.
I first noticed the book during a layover at an airport. I was surprised to see the Nazi leader’s biography being sold in a little airport kiosk, but decided to add it to my collection.
It’s not common for someone who was born Jewish (even an agnostic like me) to own a copy of Mein Kampf. Most historians, war buffs and casual readers don’t have it, either. The book has been analyzed and deconstructed in so many other volumes, that it almost seems unnecessary to own a copy.
Nevertheless, I’ve always believed that it’s an important primary source that must be studied on its own. If one truly wants to understand Hitler’s evil mindset and how he changed world history, one needs to read the first-hand account that contains all of his grotesque views and insane ideas. So I’ve always recommended that people read Mein Kampf.
This suggestion doesn’t make me a Nazi, much like recommending people read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto doesn’t make one a communist. Rather, it’s more along the lines of the theme song from the children’s educational series Schoolhouse Rock!: “knowledge is power.” The more we read, the more we understand, the more we learn.
What is the purpose of this story? It came to mind not long after the recent kerfuffle involving Faith Goldy, a former reporter and political commentator for Sun News Network and Rebel Media.
Since she covered last year’s so-called “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., and went on a podcast associated with the white nationalist website The Daily Stormer (which led Rebel founder Ezra Levant to fire her), Goldy has been involved in various controversies. Most of them relate to her participation in debates held at Canadian universities – and the disgraceful decision by student radicals to shut them down because of a fundamental lack of respect for free speech, free expression and different points of view.
Goldy recently appeared on a controversial podcast and recommended a few books. One of them was Corneliu Codreanu’s autobiography, Pentru Legionari (For My Legionaries) – which she hadn’t finished, but felt was “very, very, very, very spot on.”
Codreanu was a Romanian politician in the 1920s and ’30s who strongly opposed communism and the political left. He was also the founder of the Iron Guard, a fascist political party that was inspired by Benito Mussolini in Italy. He was also a virulent anti-Semite who blamed Jews for communism, capitalism, democracy and the destruction of the “Romano-Dacian structure of people,” among other things.
Interestingly, his name and reputation have gradually been sanitized. Few people remember Codreanu’s interwar rhetoric with great precision, and others simply choose to ignore history. That’s why he finished 22nd in Romanian Television’s 2006 poll of the 100 Greatest Romanians.
Goldy was probably attracted by his opposition to left-wing ideas and likely didn’t research his backstory. When she received a social media backlash for her recommendation, she walked it back with great haste.
Based on what I’ve heard about Goldy, and our limited communication with each other, she seems to support Israel and the Jewish community. So I’m willing to accept that it was an honest mistake.
But one thing still bothers me. One of the first chapters in the book examines “The Jewish Problem.” Indeed, the entire text is laced with anti-Jewish rhetoric. I’ve read parts of his autobiography, so I know this to be true. How she could have missed something so obvious is something she needs to properly explain.
But while Goldy unwittingly recommended an awful book by an awful man, there’s a silver lining. Reading Codreanu’s words, much like Hitler’s, would give the reader a much better understanding of history. It would therefore be a very, very, very, very good thing to do.