We have faith that future generations will know that here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.
–Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Nazi Hunter
My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I’m putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now, y’all might’ve heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we’ll be leaving a little earlier. We’re gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we’re in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin’ guerrilla army, we’re gonna be doin’ one thing and one thing only… killin’ Nazis. Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I sure as hell didn’t come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a fuckin’ air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi ain’t got no humanity. They’re the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin’, mass murderin’ maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That’s why any and every every son of a bitch we find wearin’ a Nazi uniform, they’re gonna die. Now, I’m the direct descendant of the mountain man Jim Bridger. That means I got a little Injun in me. And our battle plan will be that of an Apache resistance. We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won’t not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they’re tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with.
–Aldo the Apachi, Nazi Hunter
Why is it, for certain events, we are asked to “never forget“?
911, The Boston Bombing, Sandy Hook, and others are in recent memory. What, exactly, are we being told to remember?
What are we supposed to never forget?
I remember when Wolfenstein 3D came out. I was around five or six years old. My father had just gotten a copy from some friends at work and, in his free time, played it every now and then.
Naturally, I wasn’t allowed to play or watch.
Occasionally, I caught a sneak peek at it and quickly learned what exactly he was doing. I saw him killing Nazis, shooting German shepherds, and zombies. At one point, at the very end, he let me watch as he shot up a robotic version of Adolf Hitler.
I obviously wanted to play this game myself.
At that time, I was almost exclusively a PC gamer. I had a Sega Genesis and other console games, but I played them infrequently. Instead, I was into games like Space Quest and King’s Quest, and any other adventure game I had access to. Really, whatever my dad had is whatever I was playing. Assuming I was allowed to.
Wolfenstein 3D was one of those games I simply wasn’t allowed to play.
But when he went to work and my mother wasn’t paying attention, I was able to hunt Nazis till my heart was content. Not being allowed to do something rarely ever stops one from doing it. Especially when it comes to Nazi hunting.
Ethnically, I am what the Nazis would have called a mongrel (or mischling).
Not because I’m not white—I am—but because I have Jewish blood coursing through my veins.
While none of my close family members were killed during their reign, some of my distant relatives still left in Europe were.
To prove your lineage, it was a Nazi mandate that one must show no Jewish blood for several generations. In America, at least today, this is not really a problem in an immediate way. There’s no bureau which seeks to identify Jewish descent and even if there was, there’s no sense that Jews in America are under an immediate threat.
That, of course, can always change. And that, in general, is why when we talk of the Holocaust we always say, “never forget,” which hopefully leads to the sense that it will happen “never again.”
Hunting Nazis is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Since World War II we have seen a lot of media which aims directly at the heart of Nazism, national socialism, and other forms of white supremacy.
Arguably, no arena is more flooded with such products as the market for video games.
“What, another World War II shooter?” “Another game to hunt Nazis?”
I often hear things like this. And, of course, I feel their sentiment. Perhaps we’ve seen it too often and perhaps it’s becoming a bit dull. But there are good reasons for this. Ones which I think might escape the common person and, in turn, jeopardize the great work at hand.
It’s very important, at least to me, that we never let this enemy go until they are gone.
While it’s true the Nazi regime is gone, it’s not true white supremacy has ended in any significant way. It still exists today.
-Malcolm X, Nazi Hunter?
Racism is still a major problem in the world. And it even pops up in our games. It’s not overtly racist in the sense that we are playing white people and shooting black people, but in more subtle ways.
Here’s an example:
Early versions of Call of Duty were your stereotypical Nazi hunter. You were an American soldier, you hunted Nazis, and you killed them. It wasn’t based along lines of race necessarily, it was instead based on the lines of warring factions. Americans versus Nazis. And, more than that, set in a landscape which supposedly mirrored reality. World War II.
In the Modern Warfare franchise, and others like it, we are typically fighting droves of brown people. These people are supposedly terrorists but it’s basically unclear. Oftentimes they’re set in the Middle-East, sometimes they’re set in Europe, even other times in America. They are terrorists, usually Muslim, and mostly exist as brown bodies. They are generally unnamed and have generic character models so that you are effectively killing the same person over and over.
Yes, of course, sometimes we are fighting terrorists who are white, sometimes these terrorists are Russians, sometimes they’re Asian, but generally speaking the majority are black and brown bodies and are vaguely threatening to our order, be it American or Western in general.
Now why is that a problem? To you, it might not be.
So what, now, will Advanced Warfare be like?
Wolfenstein: The New Order is set in a hypothetical or alternative historical situation where the Allies were unable to stop the Axis powers during World War II. The Nazis, then, won the war and took over the world.
While we don’t know the story exactly, it seems from the trailers that there is a certain class of people who are set apart from the rest: Aryans.
The Aryan myth is that there is a race of people coming out of Indo-Iranian lineage and historical circumstance. These people traversed the land, spread their seed, and laid foundations in many cultures ranging from India, Iran, and Europe (especially Germany).
People frequently mistake this myth to being exclusively white or German or blue-eyed blonde-haired men, but it’s actually more nefarious than this. It is a sense that there is a historical bloodline which has, in fact, a divine decree and historical precedent to be a master race over and against all others. It is not explicitly about your skin color, but rather about your skeletal structure, lineage, and blood.
Race theory took off sometime in the 19thC and held that because of obvious and apparent physical differences race must be a thing. As in, it’s obvious there are differences in races because the apparent differences in our physical structure, our cultures, and our locations. It was also considered a scientific fact, validated by evidence and replication.
This still embeds our thinking on race whether we like it or not.
But of course, our recent advances in science have showed through genetic research race isn’t quite as important as we used to think. In fact, human beings have genetic similarities to such a degree that race is effectively irrelevant. We share common DNA with flowers, with bananas, with chimpanzees, and are nearly entirely similar to our fellow human beings.
So what’s the big deal?
Lately, especially since the fall of the Nazi Empire, racism has moved from an overt fact to a covert or underground reality. This is definitely true in America and exactly what Malcolm X was speaking of above.
Think, for a moment, about the prospect of Nazism rising over and against the integrationist philosophy that humans ought to live together in harmony, share a social structure, and exist within a common core narrative. If the idea that one group of people was better than another, what would that leave us with?
Wolfenstein: The New Order gives us a look into that reality and it’s not pretty. Maniacal scientists, racial supremicists, and of course, fascistic dictators who rule over the population with an iron fist. These are the types of things presented in this alternate reality.
There’s an interesting plot element to The New Order which bears relationship to our current reality. A resistance movement, underground, is fighting the Nazi rule from the shadows. If you’ve seen shows like V, they’re sort of like the John May and The Fifth Column.
The problem with this, however, is it seems to be the exact opposite in our current situation. While the Nazi movement failed to establish its world order, there is a worldwide contingency which certainly exists and is working to sow the seeds of dissatisfaction and destabilize the program we are in today.
Look at the Golden Dawn in Europe, look at Anders Breivik, and look at the Ku Klux Klan in America. There are obvious and apparent sympathizers to the sort of Nazi ideology which perverted the last century, never really dying off.
Under the guise of a problem with immigrants, the attack on traditional family units, national sovereignty, and an opposition to over-reaching federal authority these types of people are turning others into unwitting white supremacists who seriously believe they are fighting for liberty.
So then my question to you is why do we remember? What are we trying to “never forget”?
Wolfenstein: The New Order isn’t just another Nazi hunter, nor is it just another World War II shooter. It is a stirring look into an alternate reality which isn’t actually so far off base.
In the last couple weeks, we saw characters like Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling say things which, to the common person, were outrageous.
Cliven Bundy is in a major dispute with the Bureau of Land Management and it is his claim that the federal authorities have no ability to tax them and they are essentially violating his constitutional rights. He made some comments about “the Negro” which were taken considerably out of context but, in general, still illuminate a problematic ideology. Though I don’t get the feeling Bundy is actually a racist.
Donald Sterling is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and he, too, made some startling comments about black people in America. He made the comments, in private, to his girlfriend about how he did not appreciate her promoting black people at his games or on social media. That was a little weird and arguably racist, but hardly what I took to be his biggest error.
When asked whether he knew he employed many black people on his team, he said something to the effect of “of course I do!”—don’t they realize [Sterling] gives them a job, a house, cars, and money?
I’m sure they do realize that. But the question in return begs the question, don’t they do the same? It is this slave-master dialectic which shows the general sentiment of a lot of the ownership class. They believe in their heart of hearts that when you are employed by them you are, in effect, owned by them. The truth, however, lies not in the middle but actually on the other side. They are not usually owners because of their work ethic, but because of a system which has perpetuated their power and maintains the hierarchical structure. Maybe Oprah will solve this problem. At least that’s what I hear!
Imagine for a moment that we didn’t have games, movies, books, and people who illuminated the problem of racism so that we “never forget.”
If games like Wolfenstein didn’t give us a venue to actually hunt Nazis, kill them, and eventually save the day in the name of liberty and justice for all—wouldn’t we forget?
I think we would.
It’s easy to think the problem of racism is in the past or is only a big issue in other countries. We see Golden Dawn Nazi sympathizers in Greece and think, “hey, those crazy Greeks, when will they get it?” but the truth is, we’re nearly as bad here in America. When will we get it?
There is an undeniable link between poverty and race, imprisonment and race, poor education and race, and other things which are systemic and easy to let slide when you, yourself, aren’t faced with them on a daily basis.
Inequality, in general, is not merely an economic issue. It rests most firmly along the color-line.
This is precisely why I welcome Wolfenstein: The New Order with excitement rather than dread. I’m not put off by another Nazi hunter, but rather wish we had more of them. As sentiments of white supremacy, nationalism, and others forms of racism come creeping back up and are being put on the table, it makes me gleeful to get the chance to take on the Axis of Evil with a united front.
Moving back to the example I gave about Call of Duty, you might be thinking it’s a bit fast and loose. It’s true, in a way it is.
It’s not exactly the same thing.
But the question I want in your mind is who is the enemy really?
Is it the unnamed, faceless Muslim? The communist in Russia? The black man in jail? …or is it your next door neighbor who slinks off into the night to burn crosses in the name of racial supremacy rather than unity? You tell me.
Like a lot of you, I’m sick of run of the mill shooters and action games which are basically stupid. But one thing I’m not sick of and don’t think I could get sick of is Nazi hunting.
Is that reverse-racist? No, it’s not.
It brings me back to the time when as a child I got to hunt the undead hordes of zombies, the Nazi soldiers, and even robot Hitler. I love those memories. Wolfenstein 3D was one of those games which stuck with us not only because it was a revolutionary moment in gaming history (namely, being the first FPS), but also because it was prescient and told us a lot about who is in the world without being preachy about it.
Hopefully Wolfenstein: The New Order can do the same thing.
So instead of complaining about too many Nazi games, try to remember why we have them and why they are still important. Not to mention, it looks pretty cool in its own right!
Let’s help everyone remember. Let’s hunt some Nazis.