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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MEDIA WATCH: A Nazi a Day's a Nazi at Bay




Nazis are bad. Or are they?


Let my Jewishness protect me when I say they can be good - in the right doses and when used correctly. After all, what is penicillin if not mold?


When the boys from Russian National Unity, or RNE, marched down the streets of Moscow this week, they did more for liberal and anti-Nazi causes than even Duma Deputy Albert Makashov did with his recent anti-Semitic remarks. To get people to recall how and why World War II was fought, someone has to wear a swastika armband before a few TV cameras.


So here's a little manual on how to use the Nazis correctly.


1. Do not dispel their first illegal march. In fact, assist it by holding off the rain or snow, the way Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov does on major city holidays: The weather must be good for the cameras.


2. Alternatively, if the Nazis cannot get enough people together to stage a march, sign up a bunch of them to try to disrupt your party congress, black-tie reception or soccer match. Look at the publicity some shouting from a bunch of National Bolsheviks generated last weekend for the latest congress of Russia's Democratic Choice, the dogged but feeble liberal party. It is highly doubtful that the congress would have made the evening newscasts without the "fascists" trying to shout down Yegor Gaidar.


The National Bolsheviks' leader, Eduard Limonov, would have ended up in a concentration camp under the real Nazis - if only because he has documented his own homosexual dalliances in his popular writings. But for PR purposes, that is totally irrelevant, and Limonovite Nazis will be happy to help: Like Gaidar, they are not on TV often enough.


3. Blame the police for not dispelling the march/not preventing the disruption to the party congress. Most people think the cops are no better than the Gestapo, anyway. Then get the police to crack down on Nazis, question RNE leader Barkashov and catch the crazies who made a home video of themselves making an anti-Semitic speech against the backdrop of a burning synagogue. (They did not actually burn a synagogue, it was just a video trick, but for PR purposes that's just as well).


4. Immediately arrange for more people with cameras to come around. Start making speeches about how bad Nazis are. Try to be the first one to do that. After that, the speeches get repetitive and the people with the cameras get bored.


5. If you were not directly involved in the previous four steps for some worthy reason, such as a shortage of Nazis in your town, take credit for that too.


Take your cue from Yaroslavl Governor Anatoly Lisitsyn, who declared in the daily Kommersant a few days after the RNE march, "In Yaroslavl, such extremist actions are practically ruled out. For eight years, we have been working actively and we have learned to counteract extremism in its early stages."


6. Keep the press interested. Never let on for a moment that the Nazis are incapable of taking over your town and the rest of the country anytime they want. Get the police to arrest a Nazi wacko a week. But be careful not to exhaust your supply of Nazis.


From the above, it is easy to conclude that there already are some people in Moscow who know how to use the Nazis correctly. Luzhkov is definitely one, and Gaidar is another.


For example, if Luzhkov had just sent in the police before the RNE boys had a chance to start marching, and if the police had quietly arrested those extremists, the mayor could hardly have advanced his presidential campaign by being the first to denounce the rise of Nazism - no one would be frightened enough to pay attention. The same goes for Gaidar's congress: If security people had properly checked the IDs of those entering the meeting, the congress would never have been on TV.


From the perspective of someone who hates Hitler as much as Luzhkov does but who is not running for president, Nazis should be in jail. There should be a law that allows Nazis to be put in jail immediately after they are seen wearing swastikas or giving the straight-arm salute. There is no such law simply because everyone who passes laws in this country is either running for president or a Nazi himself. And the laws that exist are not applied be cause their quiet application has no PR value.