Jul 13, 2009
Springtime for Ecclestone and Germany?By JR Nerad
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, just when you thought Formula One racing might shift from its madness to something akin to professional management, it has sunk to a level only Mel Brooks may have anticipated. In Brooks’ The Producers, the goal of twin protagonists Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom is to put on a Broadway show so bad that it will be an instant flop, allowing them to abscond with the investors’ money. The show they decide to produce, Springtime for Hitler, to their horror, becomes a smash hit instead. Now a top exec in Formula One racing, Bernie Ecclestone, has composed his own ode to Adolf, but this time it isn’t a joke and nobody’s laughing.
Ecclestone has certainly stepped in it before, but in his latest feat of bad PR, he decided to tell The Times of London in a wide-ranging interview that democracy had its faults and that Hitler was a strong, get-things-done type of leader. Predictably, his comments drew a considerable amount of negative response from Jewish groups and British politicians among others, including yours truly. Note to Bernie: Praising Hitler in any manner is not likely to win you many friends.
The F1 prime mover dug himself in deeper when he was asked to comment on the flack he received from organizations like the World Jewish Congress. Instead of being contrite, he was quoted by The Associated Press in a statement that could be interpreted to mean that Jews who support groups like the World Jewish Congress were partially responsible for the world economic crisis: “It’s a pity they didn’t sort the banks out.”
The remarks from Ecclestone are all the more suspect since he and FIA President Max Mosley are compatriots and part of a mutual defense league. Mosley is, of course, the son of the late Oswald Mosley, a Hitler sympathizer during the 1930s and a key figure in the British fascist party. The younger Mosley was videotaped last year during his participation in an orgy that the newspaper News of the World called “Nazi-themed.” Mosley didn’t deny he was involved in the sexcapade, but he denied that Nazis had anything to do with it. Now Ecclestone is quoted as saying Hitler was a great leader. Can you blame us if we feel something is not quite right here?
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