Yeah, there’s a quasi-excuseable side to it, but even within the realm of German WWII re-enactment groups, it’s considered to be a bit nutty to emulate an actual SS unit when there are so many Wehrmacht units that fought. And then if you go into the sites run by these groups, you see that for every statement protesting the “innocence” of dressing up as SS guys, there’s a comments in the sections on period haircuts where some guys are clearly creaming their pants at wearing nazi haircuts during the workweek and group events where they all go into a local restaurant/beerhall in their SS uniforms to sing their little songs about sticking it to the jew.
Look, when I was a kid we dressed up in various leftover WWII and Vietnam-war gear and “played army”. But we had to take turns playing the enemy because in our young heads we wanted to be the G.I. who was going to stick it to the nazi/jap/commie/whatever. The idea of wanting to dress up as a horrible bunch of nazi bastards was and is about the furthest thing from my mind.
So, in this GOP congressional candidate, we have a man dressed in a frickin’ SS uniform. This could mean: a) bad judgement; b) bad sense of what sort of outfits freak out his fellow Americans; c) a general sense that the Nazis were “cool”; d) a tolerance for or glossing over of Nazi beliefs and history; and/or e) an actual adherence to Nazi beliefs.
I believe a, b, c and d are probably in effect. Hard to say e without further info, but here’s my analysis:
a) bad judgement: You’re running for public office and you want to dress up like an SS guy? Are you nuts?
b) bad sense of what freaks out fellow Americans: How can you be that frickin’ out of touch? Of course it freaks us out.
c) Nazis “cool”: This is an easy trap to fall into. They had jet fighter planes, tanks made by Porsche, and they had uniforms designed by Hugo Boss to look extra-evil. Still, it’s worth reading Albert Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich” to know that Hitler was a massive psychotic with such awful personal grooming habits as to nearly cause people to pass out from the stench when he took his jacket off. The concentration camps may have been run by one branch of the SS, but one would be hard put to find a single Waffen SS group that didn’t commit atrocities on civilians or enemy prisoners, or which didn’t participate in the rounding up of jews, roma and other “undesireables” for the camps. Seriously, fck Nazis, fck the SS, and f*ck the panzers they rode in on.
d) tolerance/glossing over for Nazi beliefs: Visit the websites of those SS re-enactment groups and it’s pretty clear that there is a certain bizarre “denial” thing going on there. And it’s a bit weird that Nazi march songs get these guys’ blood pumping. If they really wanted to know more about what World War II military life was about, then they’d spend weeks shivering in filthy squalor while being shot at by stuff that can really kill them. But, no, these guys want the part that involves dressing up as a stinking nazi, rolling through Holland, and eating warm food at night. This is about a lot of things, but it sure as hell isn’t about history.
e) actually believing the Nazi stuff: Can’t tell on this. But frankly, given the above, I don’t think this guy would get my vote.