03/22/2013 10:41 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Hitler's Doctor and Anti-Gay Bigotry

Most of us have run into anti-gay bigots who absolutely insist they have many gay friends -- though many choke on the word "gay" and prefer the more clinical term, "homosexual."

Point out their bias and they will give a litany of gay friends, co-workers or relatives. I suspect many of these "gay friends" would be surprised to discover how "close" they are to the bigot in question.

I call this the "paradox of Hitler's doctor."

When Hitler was just a teen, his mother, Klara, was diagnosed with cancer. The family doctor, Eduard Bloch, was diligent in his duties, frequently coming to the Hitler home to care for her. Klara was a simple woman, a former house cleaner, a very staunch Catholic, considered affectionate and loving by those who knew her. The young Adolph was very attached to his mother and deeply distressed when she died, he always thought Bloch had done his best, however, and was very appreciative. Every year, Hitler sent Bloch a Christmas card, for instance -- a small return for Bloch treating Klara at reduced prices, sometime for no charge at all.

Bloch, who was Jewish, was still living in Austria when German troops marched in and Nazi anti-Semitic policies were put into effect. Bloch appealed to Hitler for help and the dictator issued orders that he was to be untouched. Hitler said that Bloch was an "Edeljude" or "noble Jew." In 1940 Hitler allowed Bloch and his wife to leave Austria for the United States, where Bloch outlived the German dictator by one month.

Hitler had his "Edeljude" and it seems every anti-gay activist has his "Edelschwul" -- if I may use that phrase -- his noble gay who he trots out as proof he is no bigot.

Would anyone claim Hitler was not anti-Jewish? Does a Christmas card to Bloch, kind words, and special protection mean that Hitler wasn't an anti-Semite? Of course not. Bloch neither exonerates Hitler of his bigotry nor his crimes.

Every bigot I ever met has been willing to make small exceptions. They do so, I think, in order to help justify their bigotry.

Prejudice is inherently an irrational belief system, but no bigot likes to admit he is irrational. Having the "exception" to his prejudices is comforting; it is a way of convincing himself that he is rational and has good reasons to be bigoted. His "Edeljude" is confirmation, in his mind, that he distinguishes "good" members of the hated group from "bad" members.

His hatred is no longer irrational, but based on "actual qualities" of the individual. It is not his problem that he happens to find most members of the targeted group to be bad people. It is their problem and he can prove it by noting how he finds exceptions to his stereotype. It is a case of wilfully concentrating on a tree in order to avoid honestly looking at the forest.