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    SCOT LEHIGH

    Sorry, Scott Lively, you can’t be taken seriously

    04/28/2018 WORCESTER, MA Candidate for Governor Scott Lively (cq) spoke during the Massachusetts GOP State Convention held at the DCU Center in Worcester. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
    Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
    Scott Lively at the Massachusetts GOP State Convention in Worcester.

    When you are dealing with a crackpot, must you immerse yourself in crackpottery?

    I’m talking about antigay crusader — and GOP gubernatorial candidate — Scott Lively, whose unique contribution to revisionist history is to blame homosexuality for Nazism and its horrors.

    Mind you, Lively doesn’t stop there. Since he and coauthor Kevin Abrams published “The Pink Swastika” in 1995 — a book that, in Lively’s own words, documents “homosexuals as the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities” — the eagle-eyed Lively has spotted their influence elsewhere as well.

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    “I have come to discover, through various leads, a dark and powerful homosexual presence in other historical periods: the Spanish Inquisition, the French ‘Reign of Terror,’ the era of South African apartheid, and the two centuries of American slavery,” he wrote in an introduction to another of his works, “The Poisoned Stream: ‘Gay’ Influence in Human History.”

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    Lively’s historical sleuthing led him to believe “that homosexuality has truly been a ‘poisoned stream’ in human history,” he continued. “[E]vidence suggests it is a river with many tributaries in many nations.” (Perhaps Lively’s next book will explore how some of those scheming gay streams twisted their way north, conjured themselves into an iceberg, and sank the Titanic.)

    When I called him recently for a column, Lively objected to my observation that he seems possessed of (1) an abiding antigay bias and (2) some bizarre historical notions. One of his recent campaign e-mails complained that “Scot Lehigh . . . literally laughed at the suggestion that he should read at least part of the book himself before commenting on it and refused to concede that journalists have an ethical duty to check primary sources when they are available.”

    Myself, I’d say “scoffed dismissively,” but Lively is certainly right about this: I don’t think one needs to undergo a painstaking assessment of his “research” to judge his conclusions. Not when his assertions are so far-fetched and his antigay bigotry so well-documented.

    After all, let’s not forget the sage debate advice a certain Scott Lively proffers in “Redeeming the Rainbow,” another antigay screed: “Don’t allow your opponent to place the burden of proof upon you to disprove one of his or her assumptions. The burden of proof is on him or her.” This rule strikes me as particularly apt when your opponent has conjured up for contemporary political purposes his own revisionist history of a well-documented era.

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    Still, let’s consider what academic experts say of “The Pink Swastika.”

    “It is a highly tendentious, distorted history of the Nazi period that draws upon some legitimate sources but twists them in ways that go against the intentions of the authors,” said Arlene Stein, a professor of sociology at Rutgers who has written about the way various groups use the Holocaust to frame or further current causes.

    “It has a claim of being historical, but it is not history,” said historian J.D. Wyneken, an expert on modern German history. “It is a very selective use of documents. He finds in them what he wants them to say.”

    No surprise there. According to a fellow antigay crusader, Lively started investigating the role homosexuals might have played in Nazi Germany after gay-rights defenders labeled him a Nazi for his antigay activism. So his authorial impetus was essentially that old childhood rejoinder: I know you are, but what am I?

    The aforementioned “Redeeming the Rainbow” bears this introductory note: “The word ‘gay’ always appears in quotes” because the author “is unwilling to grant that homosexuality is gay (i.e. happy and carefree).”

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    Well, how could “gays” be insouciant when they wake up to find long centuries of torture, terror, murder, mayhem, and slavery dumped in a homophobic heap on their front step?

    Oh damn, there I go, laughing at Scott Lively again.

    Scot Lehigh can be reached at lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.