Criticizing President Obama for not attended the Sunday solidarity march in Paris in the wake of last week's terror attacks, Republican Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX) yesterday took the debate to absurd and offensive levels when he tweeted that “Even Adolph [sic] Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris. (For all the wrong reasons.) Obama couldn't do it for right reasons.”
The jaw-dropping insult from a sitting member of Congress can only really be understood when you realize that the conservative media in America have been wallowing in that kind of mindless chatter for most of Obama's time in office. (UPDATED: Weber has since apologized.)
Freely engaging in the kind of rhetorical bomb-throwing that had previously been seen and heard on the far fringes of American politics, mainstream conservative commentators have embraced the Obama-is-just-like-Hitler narrative and have proudly paraded it around for years, either oblivious to, or unconcerned with, the offensive implications.
As Media Matters noted last year:
Wallowing in self-pity and convinced of the dark forces moving against them, conservatives launch attack after attack, insisting they're fighting forces at home akin to Hitler's Nazi storm troops. They complain louder and louder that America has become like Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler when 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
It's gotten so bad that now something as innocuous as a debate over Obama's scheduling is met with a Republican Hitler-based denunciation. Sadly, this kind of rhetoric has been a mark of conservative shame throughout the president's tenure.
Recall that Fox News chief Roger Ailes accused the management of National Public Radio of having “a kind of Nazi attitude” when it fired commentator Juan Williams. Former Fox host Glenn Beck immersed himself in odious Hitler rhetoric during Obama's first years in office, while the then-burgeoning Tea Party movement did the same. And so did Rush Limbaugh, who obsessed over Obama-Nazi comparisons in 2009: “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate.” Limbaugh thought it was “fabulous and fantastic and hilarious that a women shows up at a Barney Frank town hall meeting with an Obama-as-Hitler poster and the Nazi stuff.”
Last year, billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins submitted a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor hyping an alleged “progressive war on the American one percent” and compared it to Nazi Germany's anti-Jewish riots. (WSJ editors, a Fox analyst, and Michelle Malkin all defended Perkins from the criticism he received following the distasteful claim.)
Dinesh D'Souza's defenders cried “this is like Nazi Germany” when the conservative commentator and filmmaker was charged with violating campaign finance laws. Former Fox News host Mike Huckabee last year warned that abortion rights could lead to a Nazi-style termination of elderly people in America. That, after Huckabee likened abortion to the methodical extermination of the Jewish population in Germany under Hitler.
More recently, then-Fox News contributor Dr. Ben Carson claimed America is “very much like Nazi Germany” in that it has a government “using its tools to intimidate the population.” Widely expected to mount a presidential campaign, Carson recently defended his startling comments: “I know you're not supposed to say 'Nazi Germany.' But I don't care about political correctness,” suggesting additional Hitler rhetoric could be a cornerstone of Caron's upcoming campaign.
For years, the Anti-Defamation League has been grappling with the mainstreaming of Hitler rhetoric by American conservatives. Last year the ADL again tried to raise a red flag, declaring, “The six million Jewish victims and millions of other victims of Hitler deserve better. Their deaths should not be used for political points or sloganeering. This type of comparison diminishes and trivializes the Holocaust.”
The conservative media and the Republican Party aren't listening.