Last month, The Onion published a typically alliumesque story about Obama: “Look, I’m Just Going to Say It: I Collect Antique Nazi Memorabilia.”
Now, let me be clear about this: I myself am not a Nazi. This obviously should go without saying. Furthermore, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the National Socialist movement in any way other than being a collector of Nazi art and iconography. Needless to say, I am repulsed by Nazism’s abhorrent beliefs. The genocide that robbed six million Jews and millions of Poles, Roma, and gay people of their lives stands alone as a nightmare unique in mankind’s history, but aesthetically and culturally, yes, I do find it fascinating, and collecting Nazi memorabilia is a hobby that I enjoy in my spare time.
I would also like to emphasize that this hobby, while not necessarily “common” on a large scale, does not make me weird or somehow deviant. Also, it’s more common than you might think. Check it out online. Besides, collecting Third Reich paraphernalia is merely a diversion I indulge in privately, or in the company of numerous fellow Nazi memorabilia collectors whose interest in this area is purely historical.
People in this country are free to collect whatever they want to collect. It’s one of the things that makes America great, if you want to think about it that way.
Also, a lot of presidents had quirky hobbies, you now. Teddy Roosevelt collected taxidermy. FDR collected stamps. I collect Nazi badges, insignia, and crockery. At the end of the day, whether it’s a stamp or a little vintage swastika pin, we’re just talking about little trinkets here. It’s not some huge deal. It’s not like I’m running a Nazi flag up the pole in front of the White House or something. Absolutely not. I keep my Nazi flag folded and stored in an antique pine case in my private residence.
There are probably a few questions people have right away, the first one being, “Do you own or have you ever worn a Nazi uniform?” The answer is yes, I own several, including a windbreaker and cap from the Panzer Totenkopf division. However, I’d like to clarify that I almost never wear my Nazi regalia. In the rare instance that I do, it’s in my private living quarters and is not intended for anyone other than myself or the Third Reich memorabilia enthusiasts I occasionally invite to the White House for trunk shows and conventions.
All of whom, I should add, are really nice, normal Americans with no Nazi-leaning sympathies.
Second thing some of you may be wondering: Do I own a copy of Mein Kampf? Yes, I do. A first edition, in fact. Have I read it? Yes, I have. Now, I strongly disagree with it, but it’s an important historical document nonetheless, and I think people should be familiar with it on, you know, a historical level. Many scholars and academics have read Mein Kampf numerous times over and it’s considered totally normal when they do so, just to put things in perspective.
And look, I understand if this bothers people. Many folks I know don’t understand my hobby. Michelle, for example, does not. And that’s fine! I don’t flaunt it in her face or anyone else’s face. That’s why I haven’t mentioned it until now. However, I also don’t want to seem as though I’m hiding it, because it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of. If people checked it out, they might actually find it kind of cool. Not “cool,” exactly, but, you know, interesting. . . .
Read the whole article.