In response to my “2014 In The Books,” a reader asked, “why would you read a book written by adolph hitler [sic]?” (This is what we call a statement in the form of a question, boys and girls.)
Predictably, the “question” was followed up with this little gem: “I would rather read of Jesus Christ than hitler [sic].”
Now, without getting into that whole “Who is better: Jesus or Hitler?” thingy, I offer the following thought processes behind reading “Mein Kampf.”
First and most obvious, Adolf Hitler is among the most influential men who have ever lived—one cannot study the 20th century without reference to him. Even folks who know next to nothing of history (which is a lot of folks) have heard of him.
Plus, one can scarcely read an internet debate without the obligatory Hitler comparisons being hurled about by all sides. Thus, in our online reading we find that Adolf Hitler was an atheistic, Satan worshiping Christian under the spell of Martin Luther and Charles Darwin.
Consequently, I find that getting information straight from the horse’s mouth, rather than taking the proverbial “Everything on the internet is true” approach, can go a long way in separating fact from fiction.
Furthermore, Hitler’s racial and political ideas or theories are alive and well today.
“Mein Kampf” is widely available, in its entirety, across the Web. It has been a hit in Japan and Turkey in recent years; it has sold briskly in South America and the Middle East . . . By 2008, an estimated 70,000,000 copies had been put into circulation since the book was first published in 1925 . . . In other words, the restrictions on its publication may have enabled a kind of willful ignorance, a means of not recognizing the continued impact of the book’s ideas on society.
In addition to these things, Hitler’s commentary on the "proper" use and goals of propaganda is truly remarkable. (I believe governments and media—including within the U.S.—employ the methodologies he presents.)
Thus, it seems to me the better question is: Why should I read a book written by Adolf Hitler. Ignorance of the man and his thinking doesn’t help us. (Ignorance isn't always bliss.)
Ideas have consequences. If we don't learn lessons from history...ignorance has consequences too.