On Monday, German novelist, Nobel Prize winner, and former Waffen-SS Nazi, Günter Grass died in Lubeck, Germany, at the age of 87. The press mourned his passing.
The New York Times tried to make excuses for the fact that Grass hid his involvement with the Waffen-SS for some six decades before finally revealing that fact:
Mr. Grass was hardly the only member of his generation who obscured the facts of his wartime life. But because he was a pre-eminent public intellectual who had pushed Germans to confront the ugly aspects of their history, his confession that he had falsified his own biography shocked readers and led some to view his life’s work in a different light.
Actually, his confession only shocked those who considered him a moral authority in the first place—and they still didn’t find his confession shocking enough to stop seeing him as a moral authority. In 2012, Grass published a poem called “What Must Be Said,” which reads like a screed against the Jews who wanted to strike the Iranian nuclear program:
Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long
What clearly is and has been…
It is the alleged right to first strike
That could annihilate the Iranian people…
Yet why do I forbid myself
To name that other country
In which, for years, even if secretly,
There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
But beyond control, because no inspection is available?
Why, Grass wrote, did he stay silent? For fear of being slandered with “the verdict of ‘anti-Semitism’” for saying that “the nuclear power of Israel endangers / The already fragile world peace.” Ah, those nettlesome Jews. If only someone had tried to do something about their aggression, say 70 years beforehand. Oh, wait.
Israel rightly banned Grass from visiting Israel afterward based on a 1952 law banning ex-Nazis from entering the country. The Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, explained, “Grass’s poems are an attempt to guide the fire of hate toward the State of Israel and the Israeli people, and to advance the ideas of which he was a public partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS.”
That poem followed years of hard-left activism—Grass’s leftism and former Nazism demonstrate that the two could comfortably fit hand-in-glove—including a campaign against America placing nuclear missiles in Germany, support for the Soviet-backed Castro government and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, and opposition to the German arms industry backing the first Gulf War. He actually likened arming the West against Saddam Hussein to Nazism:
This is where you really see the German danger. It isn’t nationalism, and it isn’t reawakened neo-Nazis. It is simply the unchecked lust for profit.
Grass won the Nobel Prize in 1999, with the Prize Committee explaining that he had fully fulfilled “the enormous task of reviewing contemporary history by recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them.”
He waited another seven years to explain that he had been a full-fledged Nazi. After lecturing people for decades about how Nazism could only have been prevented by the death of capitalism and nationalism, it turns out that the great human rights activist had fought alongside the most brutal elements of the Nazi regime. But the Times writes:
Mr. Grass’s defenders argued that his social and political influence had forced Germany to face its Nazi past and atone for it. He might not have been able to play that role, they said, if he had been forthright about his background.
The media’s troubling love affair with Grass began when he was merely a pacifistic far-left novelist; it blossomed so far that the press was even willing to forgive past Nazi activity, simply stating that it “complicated” Grass’s legacy. It didn’t. When Nazism was popular, Grass was with it. When it lost, he transmuted that loss into a career lecturing people about the threats of Nazism, while fighting on behalf of anti-Western powers. Finally, he entered the realm of moral relativism, where he likened the Nazis to the Jews. Grass was no moral hero. He was merely a convenient object of worship for the post-Nazi left.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.