Ok, enough! No more public evocations of Nazis outside the context of WWII or the Holocaust. No more metaphors or similes. No more likening. Politicians and pundits, I’m talking to you.
If you ask just about anyone who the worst person who ever lived was, they’ll probably say “Adolf Hitler,” the king of the Nazis. (Osama bin Laden would probably get an honorable mention.)
Because Adolf has this nefarious distinction, it’s become quite chic for public figures to compare their opponents and/or their tactics to Hitler and the Nazis. And it’s ridiculous.
Nine times out of ten, these statements are completely outrageous, false analogies that are made to elicit maximum shock value and maximum damage to the accused.
Just this week Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly stated on his TV show, “…the far left in this country, the zealots - I mean these are zealots - are Nazis and this is what the Nazis did.” (Not too long ago Bill also recommended terrorists bomb a building in San Francisco, by the way, but I digress.)
O’Reilly made the Nazi statement in objection to a commotion at a recent speech by neocon author and anorexia poster child Ann Coulter.
Yes Bill, I’m sure the folks at MoveOn.org are planning their own night of broken glass, where they’ll smash the windows of Republican-owned businesses (which I think is most of them). This will of course be followed by the business owners being shipped off to frigid reeducation camps in the Great Blue North.
Ann Coulter herself recently referred to liberal opponents as “Nazi block watchers.” Yep, Ann, I’m sure you’re right on the money there.
And last summer Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., started a firestorm after comparing US treatment of Guantanamo detainees to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. He actually stated that if you read a description of the treatment and didn’t know the context you might think you were reading about something the Nazis did.
Durbin’s comments were not entirely unfounded (a point where he differs from O’Reilly’s and Coulter’s), but they were impolitic. He later apologized about them (another point where he differs from O’Reilly and Coulter).
The Nazis, their tyrannical leader and all their offenses are understandably a sore subject for most civilized human beings. That whole period of history is a topic in which too many people have a deep emotional stake for others to use so flippantly and/or for political gain. Which is why it’s probably wise to avoid that line of rhetoric altogether.
PS: I reserve the right to use the expression “Gestapo tactics” when describing any incident in which law enforcement goes too far. And to call public school uniform proponents "fascists."