Scott Johnson: Who owns German history?

You wouldn't know it from reading the Star Tribune, but Scott Jensen received a standing ovation at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting Tuesday night, Scott Johnson writes.

Scott Jensen speaks at a press conference at the grand opening of the Minnesota GOP's new Somali outreach office. (Scott Jensen/Twitter)

(Power Line) — Dr. Scott Jensen is the Republican gubernatorial candidate running against Gov. Tim Walz. He is a former state senator and leader of the opposition to the authoritarian Walz Covid regime that did so much damage to Minnesota.

Jensen appeared with the rest of the slate of Republican candidates for Minnesota’s constitutional offices before our local chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition this past Tuesday evening. Congressional candidates were there as well, but Dr. Jensen led off the roster of speakers and was more or less the star of the packed event. I was there.

The event was closed to the press and off the record, so I didn’t take notes. However, I sat down front at a table directly across from my friend Rudy Boschwitz. Rudy is the former two-term Minnesota senator. He was born in Berlin in 1930. When Hitler was made chancellor of Germany in January 1933, Rudy’s father immediately declared that the family would leave the country. They emigrated from Germany and made their way to the United States two-and-a-half years later. Relatives who stayed behind perished in the Holocaust. Rudy has been an ardent advocate of Jewish causes and of America’s alliance with Israel before, during, and after his tenure in the Senate.

The Star Tribune is piling on Jensen for his remarks to our group Tuesday evening. Brianna Bierschbach’s story is “Minnesota GOP governor nominee Scott Jensen triples down on comparing COVID policies to Nazi Germany.” Subhead: “The candidate defended his comments in a video posted on Facebook and at an event with Jewish Republicans Tuesday night.”

Bierschbach quotes from Jensen’s remarks at our RJC event, but she wasn’t in attendance. She therefore does not note the reaction to the remarks from our group (although she could have ascertained it if she asked chapter head Mark Miller or anyone else who was there). I wrote her this morning:

“Brianna: I write for the site Power Line, but attended the RJC event at which Dr. Jensen spoke as a Jewish member of the group and local chapter. As you know, the event was closed to the press and off the record. I wonder where you got your quote from Dr. Jensen’s remarks. Do you have a recording?
This was an event attended by a mostly Jewish audience. You weren’t there and obviously don’t know what happened. Dr. Jensen received a standing ovation from the mostly Jewish audience — a standing ovation led by former Minnesota Senator and German Jewish refugee Rudy Boschwitz. I was sitting at a table across from Rudy. I think this bears directly on the theme of your story.
I’d appreciate any comment you might have.”

I haven’t heard from Bierschbach. I will post any response received verbatim.

Anyone who lived through the presidencies of Reagan, Bush (43), or Trump may recall the frequent invocation of the history of German fascism and Adolf Hitler for polemical purposes. To take just one example that could be multiplied approximately to infinity, see Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny,” discussed here by Joachim J. Savelsberg (“Savelsberg is a professor of sociology and law and the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair at the University of Minnesota. His recent books address issues of genocide and collective memory”).

Dr. Jensen introduced his remarks by reference to his having read William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” when he was 20 and to its impact on him. I’m so old that my Crest Book paperback copy of Shirer’s book was priced at $1.65. He also cited Vera Sharlav’s speech last week in Nuremberg to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg Code. Text and video of the speech are posted here. He proclaimed his friendship with the Jewish people and his unqualified support of Israel. He quoted David Ben-Gurion’s statement as his lodestar: “Without moral and intellectual independence, there is no anchor for national independence.” It is more than a little sickening to see him attacked by the Jewish adjunct of the Democratic Party on grounds of his alleged insensitivity to history.

In short, this is a controversy fabricated for ulterior purposes. I draw the inference with a little help from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Among other things, as I recounted in the 2006 Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman,” Ellison is the former local leader of the Nation of Islam and voluble hustler of NOI anti-Semitism. Ellison has entered the scene from stage left to present us with the reductio ad absurdum of this fabricated controversy.

Would it be cruel to add that Ellison himself made remarks in 2007 comparing the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Reichstag fire that helped Hitler consolidate his power? One would have to be a fool to take the Jensen pile-on at face value.

Correction: Bierschbach’s Aug. 24 Star Tribune story includes the paragraph: “Jensen doubled down on those comments in a video posted to Facebook on Tuesday and again at an event with the Republican Jewish Coalition, according to audio obtained by the DFL Party and provided to the Star Tribune. A reporter for the Star Tribune was told the event was closed to the press.” I regret my error in overlooking the paragraph. The point remains — Bierschbach wasn’t there and has yet to report the reaction of the mostly Jewish audience.


Scott Johnson
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Scott W. Johnson is a Minneapolis attorney who writes for Power Line and serves on the board of Alpha News.