Astute readers of my blog know that anti-Semitism is a subject that this blog covers from time to time, and it is my unfortunate duty to discuss this issue again in the context of Thailand’s unfortunate fascination with Nazi symbolism. It is unclear what exactly the purpose of this symbolism is, but important members of the Democratic Party of Thailand (not affiliated with the Democratic Party of the United States) have created a show called “Thunderbolt” in English (Sailorfah in Thai), where the guests talk among the double-thunderbolt most familiar as the logo of the Nazi SS Party . If this were an isolated incident, perhaps a person of partially Jewish ancestry like myself could be considered a bit oversensitive in responding to such a provocation.
But this is not an isolated incident, unfortunately. Recently a Democratic MP made a ‘Heil Hitler’ Nazi salute in Thailand’s parliament  in the midst of a discussion. Given that we are talking about a political party with close links to the palace and military establishment and that typically has gained power after the last few coups, this is a worrisome development for those of us present in or interested in Thailand. These particularly shocking neo-Nazi sentiments and symbolism occur in a troubling context. What would be criminal or at least dishonorable conduct in the West is the normal state of affairs for these neo-Nazi members of Thai’s parliament, one of whom is at the right hand of Thai minority leader and former Prime Minister Abhasit (an English-born and English-educated individual of Thai ancestry).
It is at least worthwhile to discuss the broader context of Thai neo-Nazi sentiments. Thailand, of course, was an opportunistic ally of Japan during World War II, using the hostility of Japan and Britain and French to gain territories in Thailand at the expense of Burma, Malaysia, and French Indochina. Though the United Kingdom was hostile to the Fascist government of Thailand at the time, the United States was very kind to Thailand and prevented Britain and France from punishing Thailand for its pro-Japanese behavior. Thailand was one of the few nations not to receive any loss of territory or punishment at all in the postwar order for its dalliance and support of the Axis powers . From this we can see that those political leaders with fascist leanings or inclinations have never received the punishment that such political leaders have in other countries, so that they have not been sufficiently civilized to see Fascism as evil.
Thailand has a fascination with Nazi iconography that is troubling and deeply disturbing. Just last year, in Chiang Mai, elite private school students set up a full Nazi regalia that caused immense and international offense for those of us who are hostile to Nazism . Students dressed up in full Nazi clothing–one girl dressed up like Hitler in drag and the rest were dressed up like SS stormtroopers, without realizing at all what was wrong. To be fair, such behavior is fairly similar among British elites (lest we forget the similar costume party incident of British Prince Harry from 2005 ). We are long past the time where such ignorance is an acceptable excuse. Clearly there is something about Nazism that fascinates such elites, and whatever it is, it is unacceptable. Even playing at being Nazi shows an attraction for the lusts of such corrupt power that is completely beyond the pale of civilized behavior.
And, let us not forget, the fact that Nazi swastikas are popular on everything in Thailand, from scooters to clothing  . Thailand is very deep into Nazi chic (as is Japan). Considering the deep history of racism in many East and Southeast Asian nations, the appropriation of Hitler and Hitler’s symbols and iconography on such a large scale suggests a very dark glamor in the abuse of power and exploitation of people that the Nazis represented with such chilling barbarity. Given that Thailand is a nation that practices slavery and forced disappearances  and has a love for militarism and a lack of respect for democracy, and a state that imprisons people for decades for even indirect criticisms of the monarchy, the fact that they are so enamored with Nazi symbolism and representations of Hitler is deeply troubling and suggests something is horribly wrong within the soul of contemporary Thailand. What to do about it, or whether anyone has the will to do anything about it, is a different matter entirely.
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kFnQ9uvsw4 [The link is in Thai, but the “Heil Hitler at the three minute mark is fairly obvious.]