Right now, if you wander over to the TMZ website, you'll see this inflammatory headline at the top of the article list: "Will Smith -- Hitler, Schmitler; He Wasn't That Bad". You might be forgiven for thinking that Will Smith had suddenly lost his mind and started cribbing from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" or something, but when you actually go take a look at the source article, what you find is something else entirely:
Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.As far as I'm concerned this is over-optimistic nonsense, and some people are indeed born "evil", by which I mean that they are congenitally incapable of regarding others as anything more than mere tools to gratify their own personal desires. Still, as flaky as I find Will Smith's erroneous assertion of the supposedly innate goodness of everyone, it is not in any way the same as his trying to say that what Hitler did "wasn't that bad."
"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.
The basic point Smith is making is clearly different, and what is more, based upon all the material I've read about Adolf Hitler it is very definitely true: Hitler really did believe that in ordering the murder of millions of "inferior" people he was doing something wonderful for humanity, and his last statements to the German people make clear that he went to his death completely convinced of the virtue of his actions. I quote:
I have also made it quite plain that, if the nations of Europe are again to be regarded as mere shares to be bought and sold by these international conspirators in money and finance, then that race, Jewry, which is the real criminal of this murderous struggle, will be saddled with the responsibility. I further left no one in doubt that this time not only would millions of children of Europe's Aryan peoples die of hunger, not only would millions of grown men suffer death, and not only hundreds of thousands of women and children be burnt and bombed to death in the towns, without the real criminal having to atone for this guilt, even if by more humane means.Not only was Hitler convinced of the rightness of this "atonement", he even considered it "more humane" than the supposed deeds of those he was forcing to "atone"! An insane conclusion, to be sure, but one perfectly in keeping with an ideologue utterly certain of his rectitude.
Furthermore, it is also true that if one starts from the same malignant racist, eugenicist and social-darwinist premises that Hitler did, it does indeed follow that his actions were "good." Indeed, it was this very certitude that made the Nazis so dangerous: the average tinpot dictator may know that thieving and killing dissidents is wrong, and suffer from the occasional pang of conscience in doing so, but with fanatics like Hitler and company it is the strength of conviction that what they are doing is both morally impeccable and logically necessary which spurs them on where natural human sympathy would act as a restraint. Hitler saw himself as a political "doctor" of sorts, with his patient being a German "national body" which he was convinced lay under siege by a "Jewish virus"; this time, I quote from an insightful essay by one Richard Koenigsberg.
On the evening of February 22, 1942, Hitler met with Himmler and a Danish SS major and expounded his conviction that the discovery of the Jewish virus was "one of the greatest revolutions that has taken place in the world." The battle in which we are engaged today, Hitler said, is "of the same sort as the battle waged, during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch. How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! We shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jew." Hitler concludes: "Everything has a cause; nothing comes by chance."What we see here is collectivist thinking run mad, a metaphor stretched far beyond any sensible bounds of validity: a "state" is an artificial political entity conjured up out of the shared acquiescence of those who are its subjects, not an organic creature with an independent existence which is capable of being rendered "ill" by allegedly malignant "foreign" elements. Nonetheless, if one buys into an ultra-collectivist and ethnocentric worldview in which states exist for the sake of "races" which share common interests by virtue of shared "blood", and all of which are in a state of perpetual darwinian struggle against each other for survival, then Hitler's metastasized metaphor will not seem at all far fetched. Building upon this twisted foundation, just as a doctor struggling to save a patient's life may sometimes have to take extreme and even disfiguring measures, then surely it must be allowed that a political doctor struggling to save the life of the dying German nation will be justified in taking the harshest measures in expelling the alien elements rendering the national polity ill ... Deranged as this line of thinking is, it is definitely what Adolf Hitler believed, and what is more, he managed to convince tens of millions of Germans that his way of seeing things was correct, which says something about just how widespread and acceptable such collectivist, racialized thinking was in the 1930s.*
I do not write all of the above because I have any personal interest in William Smith's career - I've never met him and I'm not a fan of the sorts of films he appears in - but because this stupid, irresponsible bid at stirring up controversy gives me an excuse to unburden myself of more of what I've learned about the ideological origins of Nazism since I last wrote about Hitler's beliefs. I'll admit that the alacrity with which many of the pea-brains in the TMZ comments section seize upon this sensationalist misreading of Will Smith's statements to let loose with their own racism was an additional spur: statements like
The total low IQ low class racist boy shows his true neoliberal radical true colorsand
Will knows that he can say whatever he likes, because anyone who criticizes him may be branded a racist.are the hallmarks of grievance nursing idiots who like to indulge in fantasies about life in modern America being one never-ending tale of oppression for whites, and who take "The Bell Curve" as the bible on black capabilities (or rather, lack thereof). That Will Smith should dare to say that Hitler didn't wake up every morning seeing the face of a cartoon villain in the mirror, twirling his mustache and laughing maniacally while saying to himself "today I shall go forth and do great evil!" is all the excuse needed by morons like these or the bigots of the violently racist Jewish Defense League to let out all the prejudices they've been bottling up while indulging in infantile posturing about offended sensibilities.
Will Smith should indeed have kept his mouth shut on this topic, not because what he said was either wrong or in the least offensive to anyone who has minimal reading comprehension skills, but because a large portion of the movie-going and protest organizing populace lacks such qualifications, as is evident from all the class acts still busy contributing crap like the following
Hitler-Smith jointly embrace evil to furthur their careers - m.o. of far too many black boyz - racists, jail timers, out of welockers - new racist black panthers - burn down the cities - rampant STDers pimps, et al.Ok ..
Next time some black goes off on me about their slavery or AIDS or whatever, I'm going to remember what this particular boy said about my people - the Jews (my wife is Korean).Racist idiots buy cinema tickets too, probably in larger proportions than the more enlightened, and Hollywood stars who want to keep getting the big paychecks from making popcorn movies should keep that in mind when making public statements.
*And still is today, to a disturbing extent: that's what lies at the root of "reconquista" alarmism, "überfremdung" panics in Switzerland and Germany, or the British newspapers' obsession with the percentage of "foreign" births and "non-British" (i.e. non-white) primary school students in the UK. If you believe that one has to have white - and preferably northern European - forebears to be a suitable bearer of "Western civilization", you really are "just like Hitler" in your way of thinking.
PS: Some third-rate outfit calling itself the "World Entertainment News Network" is now twisting Will Smith's statements in an even more misleading and defamatory manner. This bit of spin is so outrageous that I'm certain this "WENN" outfit has set itself up nicely to lose big in a libel lawsuit: we are talking brazen, malicious fraud here.
PPS: An informative page with a lot more quotes directly from A.H. himself. If anyone can read through that page and still maintain that Hitler saw himself as anything other than a benefactor of mankind ...