German tanks advance against Soviet settlements in October 1941.

German tanks advance against Soviet settlements in October 1941.

Photo: Getty Images

You might like to believe that Americans across the political spectrum repudiate fascism in general, and the Nazis specifically. This is not the case, however. There’s always been a significant faction on the U.S. right that’s been, let’s say, fascism-curious.

For most of them, it’s not that they see Nazism as a great idea, exactly. It’s more that they see Hitler as having gotten a little out of hand, thereby sadly discrediting some concepts that make a lot of sense. Their perspective is, let’s not throw out the fascism baby with the Holocaust bathwater. Also, “joking” about being fascists is fun, because it makes the libs so mad!

This tendency could be observed in 1939, when huge numbers of New Yorkers filled Madison Square Garden for a jolly American-style fascist rally. Then over 20 members of the House and Senate collaborated with a Nazi propagandist to discourage the U.S. from entering World War II. Up to Pearl Harbor and beyond, Prescott Bush — father of George H.W. Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush — was in lucrative business with Nazi Germany.

Of course, it wasn’t clear then exactly where fascism was headed. But little changed after World War II. The Central Intelligence Agency eagerly recruited a plethora of Nazis when they came on the market after V-E Day. Prominent Republican and diplomat Allen Dulles even escorted Reinhard Gehlen, architect of some of Nazi Germany’s most spectacular atrocities, to the 1951 World Series. (In fairness, when Dwight Eisenhower became president two years later he did punish Dulles for this — by making him director of the CIA.)

This peculiar tilt in the psychology of the U.S. right continued for decades, up through the present day. One key U.S. ally in South Vietnam, Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky, said that he had only one hero: Hitler. In 1985 Ronald Reagan famously laid a wreath at a cemetery in Germany filled with German war dead, including dozens of members of the Waffen-SS. Reagan defended his actions by saying that the dead German soldiers “were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”

Most recently, of course, former President Donald Trump had dinner with Kanye West, who speaks vociferously about his admiration for Hitler, and for the Republican Party this is fine.

So it’s worth remembering a little-known story from the 2003 national convention of the College Republican National Committee. The CRNC is a key path to power within the grown-up GOP. Former members include onetime Speaker of the House Paul Ryan; top Republican strategist Karl Rove; another top strategist, the late Lee Atwater; and assorted representatives and senators. (Amusingly, Hillary Clinton was president of the CRNC chapter when she attended Wellesley.)

As the Washington Post reported at the time, the convention was attended by about 1,000 students. The speakers were Republican heavy hitters of the day, such as Tom DeLay (then House majority leader), Ellen Chao (then secretary of labor, later to be secretary of transportation for Donald Trump, and always the wife of current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky). Rove was there to get the Lee Atwater Leadership Award.

At the end of the evening, some of the students sang a song in celebration of the CRNC’s outgoing president, Scott G. Stewart. The name of this song was “Stomping Out the Reds.” Let’s take a look at the lyrics:

Stomping Out the Reds

To the tune of “Bringing in the Sheaves”

Meet the Left in action, put them all in traction,
Get great satisfaction, bashing in their heads!
Hear each girl and boy sing, triumph loudly voicing,
We’ll advance rejoicing, stomping out the Reds!

Stomping out the Reds, stomping out the Reds,
We’ll advance rejoicing, stomping out the Reds!

Lib’rals who pooh-pooh them, radicals who woo them,
Pinkoes who debut them, all are dunderheads!
Gladly we’ll embrue them, hew and barbecue them,
Passing bullets through them, stomping out the Reds!

Stomping out the Reds, stomping out the Reds,
Passing Bullets through them, stomping out the Reds!

Bayonets bright gleaming, panzers forward steaming,
Hear the Commies screaming, underneath our treads!
Scorn their masses teeming, and their traitors’ scheming,
We’re the West redeeming, stomping out the Reds!

Stomping out the Reds, stomping out the Reds,
We’re the west redeeming, stomping out the Reds!

Look, you can’t deny that’s funny! It’s the future leaders of the Republican Party, joyously singing about massacring “the Left.” But what makes it truly hilarious is that it’s performed from the perspective of Nazi Germany — i.e., the guys with the panzers. They’re the West redeeming! If you’d like to witness this for yourself, it’s possible to watch their performance in grainy 2003-style internet video here.

It’s also notable how well-written these lyrics are, even as they exult in barbarism. It turns out they were penned by the unusually-named Tiomoid of Angle, who graduated from Yale in 1978. He was the editor of the songbook of Yale’s Party of the Right, or POR, founded by William F. Buckley and one of the seven parties within Yale’s political union.

Doug Henwood, the progressive economics writer, was a member of the Party of the Right during this period as part of a youthful indiscretion. He recalls “when I was first at Yale, hanging with my new POR comrades, one senior member was paging through The Old Campus, which is what Yale called its freshman facebook, looking at the pics of women and judging their character and intelligence by their skull shapes and hairlines.”

When I mentioned “Stomping Out the Reds” years ago on my defunct blog, I received an unhappy email from Mr. of Angle. He informed me the POR had many songs that “would melt your humor-challenged soul faster than the Wicked Witch of the East.” Also “The term ‘panzer’ was chosen (as was the term ‘barbecue’) solely for reasons of assonance and scansion.” In other words, identifying themselves with the Nazis was for the POR a mere coincidence, demanded by the needs of poetic rhyming and rhythm.

In any case, this general perspective endures at the upper reaches of the Republican Party to this day. Of Angle closed by reminding me that the Federalist Society, possibly the most powerful organization on the right — six current Supreme Court justices are current or former members — was founded by three alumni from the POR.