Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
October 8, 2010

And the Tea Party’s Been Calling Obama a Nazi!

Iott 3rd from left in both photos

“I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that’s incredible.”

– Rich Iott, the GOP/Tea Party Congressional candidate – Ohio 9th District

Barely having had time to stash Christine’s broomstick, the GOP  has now got another Tea Party skeleton to bury somehow. It turns out Mr. Iott, or “Reinhard Pferdmann” (his “German alter ego”), has been an avid member of a group that dresses up like Nazis and acts out the exploits of a particular SS Panzer division.

You have to read the Atlantic article (Why is This GOP House Candidate Dressed as a Nazi?).  It’s a classic. …It was a father-son bonding thing, but he stopped because the son got bored!?!

I could talk about the wallpaper in the first shot, or about the guy in the kilt and knee socks.  In the second shot, I could point out that the guys don’t seem nearly as happy, the tall guy looking downright depressed.  Still though, what better example of the clueless and shameless candidates from the far-right this election cycle than Mr. Iott in uniform, the candidate — even after two passes explaining himself — apparently not having any sense that there’s something wrong.

I’m not sure how GOP headquarters goes about undoing this one, but I’m fairly certain about one thing. I doubt we’ll see any commercials with Herr Iott claiming, “I’m you.”

  • Malika

    So, in the rush to put up candidates, the Tea Party fails to vet a single one. Or maybe that’s not the point….

  • black dog barking

    Dressing up seems to compel a measurable Tea Party cohort, every day is Halloween. Dressing up as Paul Revere is one thing, full regalia Nazi storm trooper is quite another.

    “Reinhard Pferdmann” is the nom de guerre Herr Iott chooses for himself. Google translation tells us “pferd” is horse or knight, which raises connotations of valor. The most famous Reinhard to wear that uniform is Reinhard Heydrich, considered a most valorous knight by der Führer himself.

    Checking the candidate’s bio I note Iott graduated from an Ohio high school in 1969. At that time Uncle Sam was looking high and low for able bodied men to put on uniforms and take up arms. Surprised they never got together.

    • quincyscott

      Exactly. Well, war is much grander from a distance of both miles and years, I suppose.

      I am not a veteran. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to dress up and play like one. Nor am I going to play some photorealistic video game in which I pretend to be a warrior. I have respect for what soldiers, of whatever uniform, endure. And I like to think I have self respect and some handle on reality.

      I wasn’t there when the founders signed the Constitution. I didn’t survive the Civil War. I am too young to have experienced the Depression, the New Deal, World War II. I really have a hard time understanding folks who fantasize in such concrete terms about these historical turning points, and who so easily throw around terms like “Nazi” or “socialist,” or even “patriot.”

      If I ever sit down and imagine what it might have been like to be a European living through the 1930s and 40s, it is certainly not some grandiose battle glory that comes to mind. I find the exercise humbling. That was a bloody, horrible, disgusting time in human history there. Millions upon millions of human beings from all walks of life suffered and died in brutal, senseless fashion. If I were to have lived in that time and place, I like to think that, if I survived it, I would do so as a good person, as a human being who managed to treat other human beings with sanity and decency.

      But I don’t know for sure, because I didn’t live then. So I keep my trap shut about it, and worry about my own damn time, which has plenty of opportunities for its own kind of glory if one cares to contribute to the world in any meaningful way. I’m going to go bond with my son, now.

    • rhohn

      Pferd translates to KNIGHT only when playing Chess

  • tart’n'putz

    nie4thsturm

  • g

    “as a father-son bonding thing.”

    I almost spit out my coffee. What kind of father brings his son to Waffen SS re-enactments for the purposes of bonding?

    • http://motherrr.blogspot.com cmac

      And your comment made me choke on my soda.

      In all seriousness, that would be a far-right-wingnut-fascist-admiring kind of father, busily trying to make sure his son turns out to be as crazy as he is.

  • Vvoter

    The substantive point of this story, it seems, is that the irony gets lost on Herr Iott.

    But let’s dig a bit deeper, and ask whether or not the bandying of this picture – of a candidate dressed up in garb that we associate with the Other – is any different from the bandying of Obama’s infamous traditional garb photograph, where conservatives used it to argue that Obama is a closet Muslim. “Look, see,” says the bandiers, “he’s dressed up like something nobody likes, so we can go ahead and make an inference about his qualifications for office!”

    But as it did with Obama, so does this inference seem too easy, if not a bit lazy and irresponsible.

    • black dog barking

      “Something nobody likes” completely understates the stunning difference between what I view as appropriate public behavior and Mr Iott’s judgment of the same. It sure looks like “Reinhard Perfmann” made more than one public appearance in costume (judging by the different trousers in each photo). Apparently dressing up like an SS officer rewards Mr Iott’s attentions. Based on this observation, if he were auditioning to be my congressional representative I’d want to know his views on institutional genocide and how he feels these views make him the better choice.

      Mr Iott’s dress up play is not the same thing as BHO trying on traditional African tribal dress in front of local press in Africa. If BHO had chosen to spend his spare time dressing up as a machete carrying member of the Rwandan Hutu militia then the comparison would be useful.

    • malika

      Nazi. He is dressed as a Nazi, not in lederhosen. Obama was dressed in traditional garb.

    • Vvoter

      True, as black dog barking points out, the public behavioral contexts of Iott’s and BHO’s garb-wearing are qualitatively different and deserve to be pointed out.

      My question is about the way both sets of images are used as political weapons. Can we use an individual’s dress up play to make an inference about their politics?

      To be sure, I have to come down on BNN’s side with this story. Iott does have some explaining to do.

      If this story gets much traction among the talking heads, though, I wonder if anyone else will draw a connection between the two Garb-gates.

    • Charlie

      You dont think dressing Obama up as a witch doctor with a bone in his nose is any different then showing a picture of a man dressed as a nazi. Do you ignorant conservatives not understand the difference between lying about someone and being caught redhanded being a racist POS??? Your false equivalencies are used to hide your total lack of morals and character.

    • Vvoter

      The only equivalency I am drawing – or asking if it can be drawn – is with regard to the way images are used as political weapons. Is this a false equivalency?

  • tinwoman

    Black Dog,in German a knight is a “Ritter”. A “Pferdmann” is a Horseman–as a teacher in a German university, the only place I’ve seen that word used is referring to the four Horsemen of the Apocolypse.

    I think Herr Lott is likely to be much, much sicker than he appears with a name like that.

    • http://leftistmoon.wordpress.com Wordsmith

      When I was stationed in Germany there was a Sesame Street type program (Sesamstrasse) that I watched (helped in learning German believe it or not) and there was a character ‘Pferd’- Horse. I’ve heard of no other word for pferd than horse.

    • tinwoman

      Wordsmith, our English word for horse comes from the German semi-obsolete Ross, another word for Horse (It certainly didn’t come from the French word for horse, Cheval). There’s also words for horses of specific colors–a Schimmel, for example, is a gray horse. In English we still sometimes call a horse “a buckskin” or “a bay”–this is based on the same principle.

      This is not including words for mare, stallion, foal, etc. Pferd is the most basic and nonspecialized word for Horse, and it is only one of several. The Knight in chess can be called Pferd, but a knight, the one with the armor, is a Ritter, always–a Rittertournier is a joust, for example. A Pferdmann is a Horseman–a man on a horse. The word is obscure and like “Weib” for woman, it today has Biblical connotations. A rider is a Reiter.

      Hope that helps.

    • http://leftistmoon.wordpress.com Wordsmith

      Doncha just love nuances!?

  • http://agrippinaminor.com/scarabus/ Wayne Dickson

    I think it would be nice if every Teabagger were that honest.

    Haven’t yet read the Atlantic story. Does it say what they do in those enactments? Does it involve murdering Russian Jews and raping Russian women?

  • ckerst

    They claim to do this for historical reasons. If they had any sense of history they couldn’t bring themselves to put on a nazi uniform. I can only wonder what my fathers generation, the ones who fought and died defeating these demons, make of this.

  • James Inafor

    To be fair, the SS was the more benevolent wing of the Nazi Party. The would give little candies to the kids of the parents they killed in their march to world supremacy.

  • T.H.E.Cat

    S/B “Pferdhinter” (horse’s @ss)

    • tinwoman

      “Pferdearsche”

      There. fixed.

  • Don

    I am opposed to both legal and illegal immigration. This country is overpopulated, and 21 million Americans are out of work.

    • tinwoman

      Eh? I think you’re on the wrong thread. BTW if you think the U.S. is overpopulated you’ve clearly never traveled. We could absorb millions upon millions of more people without reaching anything like the population density of places like, say, Holland or Israel.

  • Marsupialas

    Iott is that a misspelling of Idiot? I wonder. He says he admires Germany for it military success, and it’s such a small country. I’m sure he admires Pol Pot. His was a pretty small country, too, and look how many people he managed to kill.

  • Canute

    Interesting issue. I don’t think the guy is actually a Nazi sympathizer, just abysmally clueless. Tone deaf to the power of 100. As Jon Stewart pointed out on the Daily Show, “He’s just a history geek!”

    The historical military reenactment hobby is huge, covering every era from the ancient Greeks forward. The Japanese do samurai reenactments of the 17th century. It’s a slight stretch, but I have even seen video of a reenactment of Hanuman the monkey god battling demons as part of a religious ceremony in India. Religious ceremonies are often reenactments of important events in the history of a people, with myth and fact intermingled.

    And someone has to play the bad guy. You’ve got some guy in a mask playing Hanuman, and another in a different mask playing the demon. What’s interesting to sort out is the motivation for playing the heavy.

    It can be anything from “You drew the short straw this time,” to an interest in the odd feeling of donning the demon mask, a fascination with the power of authoritarianism, to an actual sympathy for the beliefs of the bad guys. And then there is just the straight geekiness of the details of social history – What did they wear? What did they carry with them? What did they eat? Who were these people?

    All that said, I can’t imagine donning a Nazi uniform, even if just to play the heavy in historical theater. There’s a limit.

  • angellight

    Voters everywhere beware — When the GOP state that they want less government, what they really mean is that they want NO government and more Corporate Rule! They want the people paying all the taxes and the Corporations to pay No taxes. The GOP and Tea Parties want no Social Security, no Verterans’ benefits, no regulation of Wall Street, banks, insurance and credit card companies; they want nothing to get in the way of their corporate greed and profits. They want less spending on America’s roads, streets, sewer system, infra-structure, rail roads, schools and yet they don’t mind Spending more for Wall Street stocks and bonds, so that they can build up a stock pile of profit which will only benefit the wealthy and well-connected while America further decays into a third-world country. What they really want is a dictatorship again!

    WATCH WHY GOP ARE DANGEROUS TO OUR DEMOCRACY!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9jLrrRg8rw

  • sarah Dunn

    Hi! We are students at Smith College in Massachusetts taking a Research Seminar. We invite you to take a survey assessing gender attitudes and behavior. The survey should take between 30-45 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. To thank you for your participation, you will be entered into a raffle for a $50 gift card on Amazon.com. Thank you in advance for your participation!
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NVG3CBG

  • Larry Kirk

    All anyone needs to do is a little historical reading,about
    what was going on in the world,from say 1923, in Munich.
    The formation of the NSDAP, The National Socialist German
    Workers Party, from which the term Nazi is derived.
    It was made up of a group of WW1 veterans, and businessmen,
    who were not very happy about the living conditions of the
    day. It is a very interesting read.

  • http://www.christianlouboutin.uk.net louboutin

    Nazi. He is dressed as a Nazi, not in lederhosen. Obama was dressed in traditional garb.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes