By Jennifer Lipman
October 11, 2010
Rich Iott is having a bad week. The Republican candidate for an Ohio congressional seat, Mr Iott is having to defend himself after some unfortunate photos of him dressed as a Nazi surfaced (he's the friendly-looking guy on the third left).
The Tea Party politician apparently used to take part in Nazi reenactments, wearing German Waffen SS uniforms. To him it was just harmless fun – he used to go along to these events with his son – but not everyone sees it that way.
His Democrat opponent, who probably can’t believe her luck, has registered her disgust. Jewish Republican whip Eric Cantor has criticised Mr Iot, and the Republican Jewish Coalition has stated that Mr Iot “clearly lacks the judgment we should expect of lawmakers".
Quite. Mr Iot, for his part, is rather upset by the fuss. He said – and you can just imagine him saying it in a countrified drawl - "anyone who knows me would tell you that I am a proud American who loves this country and loves Freedom.
"Never, in any of my reenacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone…especially the Jewish Community.
“I have immense respect for veterans who…fought to rid the world of tyranny and aggression by relegating Nazism to the trash heap of history."
He also noted, though, that he has become the victim of "distortions of the truth."
Now I fail to see how a scandal about a picture of a person dressed as, say, a Nazi, can be labelled a “distortion” if said picture exists.
No serious commentators are accusing Mr Iot of being a Nazi. What they are accusing him of is poor judgment, insensitivity and a weak understanding of history.
The truth may be that Mr Iot only donned Nazi garb for historical reasons, but that “truth” is more than enough to prompt outrage.
The good news is that news station CBS is now referring to the seat as “Probable Democratic.”