Accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk, who is wanted in Germany in connection with the murder of 29,000 Jews at the notorious Sobibor death factory, may be the only illegal alien Pat Buchanan wants to keep in the United States.
Demjanjuk was stripped of his U.S. citizenship by federal courts for concealing his past as a concentration-camp guard, but has evaded deportation by a series of last-minute legal maneuvers. His staunchest defender is the conservative commentator and former presidential contender who, in a column published on Good Friday, called him a victim of "the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago."
Who's behind the "un-American persecution" of Buchanan's hero? The Jews, of course — specifically, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, which he has portrayed as being in cahoots with the KGB and tried to shut down when he served in the Ronald Reagan White House.
What Buchanan wants for Demjanjuk is nothing less than a "reward" for "prolonged success in eluding justice," said Eli Rosenbaum, the Justice Department's top Nazi-hunter.
Demjanjuk isn't the first accused Nazi Buchanan has defended. Others include Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, whom he called a victim of "moral bullying"; Klaus Barbie, the "butcher of Lyon"; Karl Linnas, an Estonian concentration-camp chief; and Arthur Rudolph, a Nazi rocket scientist implicated by his own admission in the persecution of slave labor.
"Buchanan's real target is Israel," declared Neal Sher, a former OSI director.
Sobibor was not a labor camp; it was strictly a killing factory where the life expectancy of arriving Jews was measured in hours. In the time Demjanjuk served there, an estimated 29,000 Jews went to the gas chambers. But Buchanan insists that "Demjanjuk's weapon of mass-murder cannot kill."
The lethal, diesel-engine exhausts piped into the gas chambers at Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno and Belzec "do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody," he insisted. Does he think they all committed suicide? Like the Iranians, the Arabs and many anti-Semites, Buchanan seems to want it both ways — denying key aspects of the Holocaust, but, when convenient, using that same history to compare Israel to Nazi Germany.
When Israel retaliated in January against Hamas' ongoing barrage of rockets, missiles and mortars from Gaza, Buchanan was outraged. The Palestinians fired "these little rockets that didn't kill anybody," and Israel responded with "a blitzkrieg against the Palestinians in Gaza," which is "an Israeli concentration camp," he told David Shuster on MSNBC, where he appears regularly as a commentator.
Buchanan is entitled to his opinions, but MSNBC should have better judgment than to provide such a platform for them. The network acted quickly when African-American leaders were outraged by a racially insensitive joke by Don Imus. Where is the outrage when Jews and Israel are compared to Nazis?
Buchanan has called Hitler a man "of great courage, a soldier's soldier," and he wrote Reagan's infamous Bitburg speech that honored German soldiers and SS members buried in that cemetery as "victims of the war."
A colleague asked: "Why bother writing about Demjanjuk and Buchanan? Nobody cares about those old Nazis anymore, and everyone knows what Buchanan is."
That's why. Because there can be no statute of limitations on murder. As Rosenbaum has said: "It remains essential to pursue justice" in cases of genocide and crimes against humanity, and "the mere passage of time in no way diminishes the gravity of those offenses."
Douglas Bloomfield is a Washington-based syndicated columnist.