Talk show host and radio personality Glenn Beck got a nice laugh from his audience at the Values Voters Summit in Washington D.C. last weekend when he mentioned that the Nazis made gay people wear pink triangles on their clothing.
In fairness to Beck, he did not appear to be looking for a laugh by mentioning Nazi persecution of homosexuals. He asked his audience, which at the summit sponsored by the right-wing Family Research Council consists almost entirely of highly conservative fundamentalist Christians, if anyone knew what the purple star meant in Nazi Germany.
“Gay!” shouted one audience member.
“No, not gay. That’s pink,” said Beck. That’s when laughter rippled through the audience.
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, homosexuality was illegal in Nazi Germany and 100,000 gay men were arrested by the Nazis. Between 5,000 and 15,000 were imprisoned in concentration camps.
“Gay men, in particular, were subject to harassment, arrest, incarceration, and even castration,” the museum recounts on its web site. “In Nazi eyes, gay men were weak and unfit to be soldiers, as well as unlikely to have children and thereby contribute to the racial struggle for Aryan dominance.”
Gays in the concentration camps were made to wear pink triangles and were often subject to the worst abuse by Nazi guards of any group in the camps.
Whether the “Values Voters” were laughing about, or are even aware of, the historical record of Nazi persecution of gays is impossible to determine. Watch the video below for yourself. It appears that the very idea of gays being labeled with the color pink is amusing to the crowd.
Beck goes on to give his answer to who was made to wear the purple star.
“Bible scholar!” he declares demonstrably. “If you knew anything about the Bible you were an enemy of the state!” he told his audience.
“The relevance to Beck’s crowd is obvious,” wrote Sharona Coutts, Director of Investigations and Research for RH Reality Chcek, a news site about reproductive rights and justice issues. “By allowing U.S. fundamentalist Christians to believe that the Nazis exterminated ‘Bible scholars,’ Beck played into the narrative of victimization and persecution, and allowed them to appropriate the Holocaust as their own tragedy.”
Needless to say, Beck had his facts wrong. The purple star was used to single out Jehovah’s Witnesses who were persecuted for their beliefs which prevented them from serving in the military or working in jobs that aided the military effort.
Nazi concentration camp records described the Witnesses as “Bible researchers,” which may be where Beck got his original misinformation,
SOURCES: Americans Against The Tea Party, RH Reality Check, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, YouTube