Justice

A Congressman Proves He Doesn't Get What the Holocaust Was About

A five-minute video narrating a visit to one of the most solemn places on Earth has a Louisiana congressman in hot water for using the horror of the Holocaust to tout American exceptionalism.

Entitled "Clay Higgins has a message for America—from Auschwitz," the video features the first-term U.S. House Republican walking through the Nazi death camp offering observations about the horrors faced by its past occupants, as well as how the United States must keep "homeland security ... squared away."

 

 

The video is a lightly edited cell phone travelogue, and mostly features Higgins narrating from various locations in the camp, located in Polish territory that was annexed by Nazi Germany at the start of World War II. Gravely intoning in a southern drawl, Higgins informs viewers that "a great sense of dread comes over you in this place," before going into the particulars of how the gas chambers worked, how the people sent there (he never says the word "Jews") died horribly, and how "man's inhumanity to man can be quite shocking."

Higgins reveals his worldview as decidedly America-centric, announcing that the gas chambers are why "homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible," and that "the United States is more accessible to terror like this, horror like this."

"It's hard to walk away from the gas chambers and ovens without a very sober feeling of commitment—unwavering commitment—to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world," the former deputy sheriff of St. Landry Parish concluded. 

Higgins is no stranger to controversial filmed antics. In his role as public information officer for the Parish, he made a string of bizarre Crimes Stoppers videos full of threats, insults, and off-topic tangents. After a particularly inflammatory video drew national attention, Higgins resigned from the Sheriff's department, claiming that he would rather quit "than kneel to the very forces of evil that I have so long stood against."

 

 

According to NOLA.com, Higgins' Auschwitz video wasn't made in any official Congressional capacity, but instead was first posted on July 1 to the YouTube page of a conservative podcast, and later to the website of evangelical Christian newsletter Covenant Spotlight. Both sites took the video down, and given the backlash Higgins faced, it's not hard to see why.

The official Twitter account of the Auschwitz Memorial Museum scolded Higgins for using the inside of one of the seven gas chambers at the camp as "a stage," rather than respecting the site's request than visitors remain silent. 

Beyond that official condemnation, Higgins was called a "global disgrace" by the Anne Frank Center, as well as grotesque and an embarrassment by both media figures and Louisiana residents. 

Higgins past statements on Islam were also dredged up, and it became clear that there was great irony in him turning a state-run place where undesirables of certain religions were exterminated into the backdrop for a cautionary video.

In the hours after the June 7 London rampage by three ISIS-inspired men, Higgins wrote a Facebook post that seemed to advocate for a holy war between Christianity and Islam. "The free world... all of Christendom... is at war with Islamic horror," Higgins wrote, identifying himself not as an elected Representative, but as "Captain Clay Higgins," using his former police rank.
 

 

 

"Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter," Higgins continued in the post, which is still on his page. "Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all."

Reached by the Washington Post after the Facebook screed went up, Higgins "clarified" his remarks to say that if it were up to him, he'd round up everyone "associated" with terrorism, let some go, and execute the rest. The "religious zealots," Higgins said, must be identified and killed, adding to the Post that “that’s what happens in war.”

As Higgins undoubtedly learned while making his video, Nazi Germany had an extensive system for both identifying and killing "religious zealots," of which Auschwitz was a central cog.  

His office did not provide comment to multiple news outlets, and thus far, he has made no effort to "clarify" anything in the video.