“Jugendverführer and Jugendverderber”: The Republicans borrow another strategy from Nazi Germany.

Ron Desantis Demagogues at CPAC

I suspect you’re as tired as me of hearing how today’s Republican fascism parallels European fascism in the early 20th century. Nevertheless, the recent surge in anti-queer rhetoric from the US Right requires a brief lesson in history.

Ideas about defending masculinity and the traditional family, and about protecting youth from indoctrination, were key to Nazi propaganda campaigns. Numerous historians have covered how central ideas of masculinity and gender were to the Third Reich. Isaac Carmichael wrote in 2002 about how consciously Joseph Goebbels reinforced such messages in Nazi cinema and propaganda. But it was this bit that really caught my attention:

To combat fears of the prevalence of homosexual behavior, Nazi propaganda projected the image of gay men as “corruptors of youth” who would “lure ‘normal’ young men into depravity and thus spread the ‘epidemic’ of homosexuality.”

Carmichael cites Stefan Micheler, writing for the Journal of the History of Sexuality, also in 2002 (emphasis is mine):

“…the stereotype of the “homosexual” as “effeminate and degenerate,” “depraved,” and “corrupt” became the unifying view of the “homosexual personality” and a focus for homophobic hostility. So too did another common stereotype, that of the “seducer” and “corrupter” of youth (Jugendverführer and Jugendverderber), a uniquely dangerous figure who lured “normal” young men into depravity and thus spread the “epidemic” of homosexuality… in helping to marginalize the sexual within the movement’s masculine fraternal order, homophobia played a key role in stabilizing the National Socialist regime.”

Those words, Jugendverführer and Jugendverderber, sure seem notable. At least 15 states are currently working to pass Florida-style “Don’t Say Gay” bills. When reasonable people object, Republicans respond by calling them “pedophiles” and “groomers.”

One wonders whether people like Ron DeSantis consciously realize they are pulling plays straight out of the Nazi playbook, or if it’s just some instinct.

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