George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party who was assassinated by a former follower in 1967. Following Rockwell’s death, William Buckley devoted an interesting column (collected in The Jeweler’s Eye) to his own epistolary encounter with Rockwell. Buckley’s remembrance begins: “Surely George Lincoln Rockwell was insane.”
I saw Rockwell speak in 1965 or 1966 around the time of his infamous Playboy interview on one of “his Gordon Liddyesque college-circuit lectures.” He drew a large crowd that packed the house of the University of Minnesota auditorium where I saw him speak. As I recall, he gave a stemwinder followed by a long question and answer period.
One of the students asked him a critical question regarding Hitler’s actions, citing William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I vividly recall that Rockwell dismissed the question with the answer: “Shirer is a Jew.” (Shirer died at age 89 in 1993.)
When we arrived home I took a look at my unread paperback copy of Shirer’s book. I found a footnote on page 326 of the book in the the author’s discussion of the influence of Martin Luther on the behavior of German Protestants during the first years of Nazi rule: “To avoid any misunderstanding, it might be well to point out here that the author is a Protestant.”
I do not think that respected University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer is a Nazi or akin to George Lincoln Rockwell in any respect. However, my 40-year-old memory of Rockwell — whom I have not thought of in approximately 40 years — was brought to mind by Andreas Knab’s fascinating account of the sliming of Walter Russell Mead by Mearsheimer at Oxford earlier this month.
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