Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District and a tea party favorite, is also a proud member of Wiking, a gang of men who regularly reenact the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking. Well, he's not that proud: "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," The Atlantic reports. So, what's he thinking? That he likes Nazis, or just that dressing as one can be, uh, fun?
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. "It's purely historical interest in World War II."
But he cedes that he's fascinated with Nazis, who "accomplished incredible things:"
Iott, a member of the Ohio Military Reserve, added, "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."
Charles W. Sydnor Jr., a retired history professor and author of Soldiers of Destruction, weighed in: "These guys don't know their history," he said. "They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred."
Well, that's Rich Iott: Not a Nazi, just a harmless fiftysomething man who likes to dress up as one. Regularly. For fun. Cue his next campaign ad: "I'm not a Nazi. I'm, uh, you. No? Not going to work? Okay ... "