Blog: Through Testimony

One Step Away: A Nazi Congressman in the USA?

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 10:13am -- webmaster

Contributor: Stephen Smith

Fri, 03/23/2018 - 10:13am

It’s hard to imagine I’m even typing this sentence, but an avowed Holocaust denier on Tuesday became the official Republican nominee for an upcoming congressional election in Illinois.

Arthur Jones won the primary despite the fact that he once led the American Nazi Party and has freely shared his antisemitic views.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that Arthur Jones received more than 20,000 votes, according to preliminary results.

Jones is running in the largely Democratic 3rd Congressional District near Chicago, so there’s little chance he’ll win in the 2018 midterm election. And he was strongly denounced by his own party.  But the fact that man who has purported hate has come this far is both an indication of the political apathy in our system and  cause for serious concern. 

I would say that the people of the 3rd District have some serious soul searching to do, but the electorate only votes for the candidates in front of them that most meet their needs.  Either those 20,000 people thought it would be better to vote for a Nazi than not vote at all, or they saw something in his ideas.  Neither are good. 

The mainstreaming of Nazi philosophy and Holocaust denial is an ongoing danger for this country, not only because it is antisemitic, but because it attacks the values of civil society generally.  It is an attack on everyone. It needs to be denounced by all decent people – elected officials included – and immediately. Holocaust survivors who gave their testimony to USC Shoah Foundation can tell us what happens when we don’t treat these situations with the seriousness they deserve.

Posts are contributed by individual authors. The opinions are solely the authors’ and are not necessarily a reflection of the views of USC Shoah Foundation.

About Stephen Smith

Stephen D Smith is the Andrew J. and Erna Finci Viterbi Executive Director Chair of the USC Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, whose Visual History Archive holds 53,000 testimonies of eyewitnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides. He also holds the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education and is an Adjunct Professor of Religion. He founded the UK Holocaust Centre, The Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide. He was Project Director of the Kigali Genocide Centre, Rwanda. Smith, who trained as a Christian theologian, is an author, educator and researcher interested in memory of the Holocaust, and the causes and consequences of human conflict.

Other Contributors

Ingrid Alexovics blog author
  Lauren Fenech and Steffanie Grotz
Lesly Culp
Ivana Hajičová
Orli Robin