When America watched its sweetheart Sandra Bullock get humiliated by her philandering husband Jesse James, the salaciousness was compounded by the fact that not only was the man sleeping with a porn star, but he was sleeping with a porn star who liked to dress up like to dress up like a Nazi. And not only was he screwing the Nazi porn star, but he himself liked to dress like a Nazi every now and then. And take pictures! But at least he wasn’t running for political office.
Rich Iott, on the other hand, is the Republican nominee for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District, and he’s running with the support of the Tea Party. This man’s bizarre hobby consists of donning a German Waffen SS uniform and participating in Nazi re-enactments. He even has a German alter ego, “Reinhard Pferdmann.” The Atlantic has the photos and the details:
Iott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself Wiking, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II. Iott’s participation in the Wiking group is not mentioned on his campaign’s website, and his name and photographs were removed from the Wiking website.
But let him explain:
When contacted by The Atlantic, Iott confirmed his involvement with the group over a number of years, but said his interest in Nazi Germany was historical and he does not subscribe to the tenets of Nazism. “No, absolutely not,” he said. “In fact, there’s a disclaimer on the [Wiking] website. And you’ll find that on almost any reenactment website. It’s purely historical interest in World War II.”
An opposing candidate’s campaign commercials, though, do not come with a disclaimer. And just on a logical, human level this is insane. In what universe is this acceptable behavior for a small town children’s soccer coach, let alone a member of the United States government?
Iott says: “I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that’s incredible.” Unfortunately, a bunch of intelligent people disagree:
“These guys don’t know their history,” said Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., a retired history professor and author of “Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death’s Head Division, 1933-45,” which chronicles an SS division. “They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred.” Sydnor added that re-enactments like the Wiking group’s are illegal in Germany and Austria. “If you were to put on an SS uniform in Germany today, you’d be arrested.”
“Never, in any of my reenacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war,” Iott attempts to explain. But… but! Seriously?
For more historians explaining why this is completely insensitive and unacceptable, check out the whole story at The Atlantic. Next month this man is hoping to win a chance to stand for Ohio in the United States House of Representatives. Yikes.