“All the worst events of the 20th century took place because of the triumph of identity over idealism in Europe,” said Michael Gerson on Sunday’s Face The Nation, hosted by John Dickerson.
In discussing France’s presidential election, Gerson implied that Marine Le Pen and National Front — nationalistic political movements, more broadly — threaten to usher in violence reminiscent of the 20th century’s bloodiest wars and genocides.
The Holocaust and communist-driven mass murders of the last century, suggested Gerson, were functions of national identity overcoming “transnational ideals.” No explanation of “transnational ideals” was offered by Gerson, nor was he invited by any of Face the Nation‘s guest panelists or the show’s host to articulate the nature of “transnational values.”
No mention was made of the anti-Semitic dimension of Nazi ideology or communism’s commodification of human lives. As Gerson ignored broader historical forces shaping the 20th century’s deadliest events, none of his Face the Nation colleagues challenged his historical analysis.
While nationalism was a significant element of Hitlerian ideology, it was fused with a paradigm of racial struggle. Adolf Hitler viewed race as integral to national identity, with the natural state of the human condition being characterized by a zero-sum battle between racially-defined nations for territory and power.
Gerson invoked the racial dimension of Nazism in his description of contemporary nationalisms across the West, describing them as rooted in “blood and soil.”
American nationalism was a primary driving force undergirding the United States’ war effort to defeat Nazi Germany and its allies. Nationalism as a social force, underwrote resistance to Hitler’s designs across all of America’s primary allies, including the Soviet Union.
Gerson suggested that the absence of any major continental war (putting aside the Balkan War) across Europe since the Second World War was a function of the Bretton Woods network of multi-state institutions and the rise of the European Union (EU).
In other words, global integration and diminished national sovereignty via centralized political power within international and multi-state institutions has ushered in a new era of peace across Europe, according to Gerson.
In explaining Europe’s relative peace compared to previous eras of continental war, Gerson made no mention of the Cold War’s geopolitical shifts of power and the ascendance of the nuclear age of weaponry.
Barack Obama echoed a similar view in April of 2016, recalling the specter of the Holocaust as a horrific possible outcome should the EU superstate be dissolved. David Cameron pushed the same narrative in May of 2016. Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s English-language propaganda outlet, also parroted this perspective.
Although a left-wing opinion columnist for The Washington Post and political commentator on CBS, Gerson is described as a Republican in his Wikipedia profile by virtue of his role as a speechwriter in George W. Bush’s administration.
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