Clinging to persecution fantasies that seem to grow darker each year, conservative voices continue to hype doomsday scenarios in which President Obama is scheming to confiscate firearms, socialize American medicine, silence his critics through brute political force, and wage violent class warfare. Allegedly under siege at every turn as their freedoms are stripped away, conservatives embrace an imagined status as perennial victims.
The result? 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.
Nazi analogies aren't new and conservatives didn't trademark them. But the cries have become far more frequent during Obama's sixth year in office.
Four years ago, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes accused the management of National Public Radio of having “a kind of Nazi attitude” for firing commentator Juan Williams. Former Fox host Glenn Beck frequently immersed himself in offensive 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.”
In 2009, the Anti-Defamation League, led by Holocaust survivor Abe Foxman, documented the Tea Party's growing reliance on “Nazi comparisons” as a way to express its anti-Obama rage. Yet today the Nazi claims arrive effortlessly and on a depressingly regular basis as conservatives line up to compare this president, his allies, and this country to one of the worst chapters in civilized history.
The thoughtless rhetoric not only captures how detached Obama's critics have become from reality (not to mention the blanket insensitivity involved), but it also reveals the bizarre view conservatives have of their alleged political strife.
Fox News contributor Dr. Ben Carson recently claimed America is now “very much like Nazi Germany” in that it has a government “using its tools to intimidate the population.” Carson defended the insulting comparison by suggesting American conservatives are being targeted and intimidated by the government: “Maybe if I don't say anything, I won't be audited, people won't call me a name.”
Audited? Name-calling? Historical note: Those were certainly among the least painful afflictions Jews suffered during the Nazi reign of terror. “I know you're not supposed to say 'Nazi Germany,'” said Carson. “But I don't care about political correctness.”
Surveying the recent trend of “asinine comparisons,” Vanity Fair's Kurt Eichenwald, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, condemned the rush of “Nazi” shouters and their attempts to elevate often trite causes to that of Germany's Third Reich warfare. “You are poseurs, appropriating incomprehensible suffering of others in a pathetic attempt to make your inconsequential squabbling seem important,” Eichenwald wrote. "How dare you?"
Paranoia and victimhood have been longtime cornerstones of the right-wing movement in America. And the conservative media work hard to foster those feelings by turning modest news events into ominous tales of ruin, like the trumped up Internal Revenue Service “scandal.” The man-made IRS narrative, produced with the help of Fox News, fits right into the trademark tale of dark despair and being ominously “targeted” by the Obama regime.
“I really believe that what we see with the IRS can be compared accurately and historically to the early maneuvers of people like jackbooted thugs, like the brownshirts,” warned conservative columnist and NRA board member Ted Nugent.
Online, Pam Geller insisted, “The ongoing persecution of Republicans and conservatives mirrors the attacks by the fascists of Europe on their opponents in the 1930s.”
Sadly, those kinds of senseless assaults on history have become commonplace in recent weeks and months.
Billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins recently 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, asking: “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?” (The offensive analogy was then endorsed by WSJ editors, a Fox analyst, and Michelle Malkin, among others.)
Perkins was followed by fellow billionaire Home Depot co-founder and major Republican donor Ken Langone, who compared the Democratic agenda to “what Hitler was saying in Germany” in 1933.
And these, also from 2014:
- Allies of Dinesh D'Souza cried “this is like Nazi Germany,” after the conservative commentator and filmmaker was charged with violating campaign finance laws.
- Rush Limbaugh tied Democrats to Nazism by suggesting both were based on envy and wealth distribution.
- Responding to news that Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein was making a movie he said would battle the NRA “head on,” the NRA's Nugent compared the Jewish filmmaker to chief Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Weeks later Nugent added the Obama administration to his list of things that are Nazi-like.
- Fox News host Mike Huckabee last week warned that abortion rights could lead to a Nazi-style termination of elderly people in America. Earlier this year Huckabee likened abortion to the methodical extermination of the Jewish population in Germany under Hitler.
- Climate change doubter Dr. Roy Spencer claimed environmentalists “support policies that will kill more people than the Nazis ever did.”
At one point this year, the ADL once again tried to apply the common sense brakes to the run-away Nazi rhetoric:
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.
Is anyone listening?