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Tilting at Windmills

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October 26, 2008
By: Hilzoy

A Similar Mistake

They actually went there:

"Pennsylvania Republicans are disavowing an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that likens a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust.

"Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008," the e-mail reads. "Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let's not make a similar one this year!""

The Pennsylvania Republican Party claims that this mailer went out without their authorization, and that they have fired the consultant who was responsible. That consultant, however, says this:

""I had authorization from party officials" to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. "I'm not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I'm not naming names right now," he said."

***

There are things you should not say unless you really, really mean them, and events you should not invoke lightly. Saying that voting for Obama, or for McCain, or for any of the major party candidates in my adult lifetime, would be a mistake that is in any way "similar" to underestimating the horror of the Nazis is one of them.

We should never forget what the Nazis actually did, or what the Pennsylvania Republican Party has seen fit to invoke so lightly; and we should not dishonor those who were murdered by using them to score cheap political points.

Photobucket

Hilzoy 1:28 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

What gets me about that quote isn't just that it makes a disgusting comparison between an Obama presidency and the rise of Nazism, but that it, unless I'm misreading it, blames the victims of the Holocaust for their own annihilation.

What type of monster would do that?

Posted by: alex on October 26, 2008 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Bold. Bravo.

Posted by: Dan on October 26, 2008 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

They make alternatively enraged and ashamed. The utter ignorance and immorality of people in this country is appalling. That people still vote for the gop when this is the stuff they represent makes me sick.

Posted by: Gaucho Politico on October 26, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

I was wondering what she was doing during the debate when she used the phrase "second Holocaust." Incendiary comments are nothing new, sure, but at the time it struck me as left-field incendiary. Turns out she was thinking ahead, laying the groundwork for this preposterous attack.

Posted by: nick on October 26, 2008 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

>We should never forget what the Nazis actually
>did, or what the Pennsylvania Republican Party
>has seen fit to invoke so lightly; and we should
>not dishonor those who were murdered by using
>them to score cheap political points.

Sorry, but your use of this photo also smacks of scoring political points

Posted by: jim on October 26, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Sorry, but your use of this photo also smacks of scoring political points"

If he was attacking McCain with it baselessly, yeah. If he was using it as a stark and bleak reminder of one of the greatest tragedies in human history, not so much. His use of the photo is entirely apropos.

Posted by: Talphon on October 26, 2008 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

"...unless I'm misreading it, blames the victims of the Holocaust for their own annihilation."

You know, I hadn't noticed that. Thanks for pointing that out.

I am so angry about this email that I am having trouble writing anything literate let alone profound.

Also, thanks for using the photo to put things in perspective.

I am assuming the person who wrote the email was one of those McPalin supporters they don't have any control over - like at those big rallies they have.

Posted by: Memoirgirl on October 26, 2008 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

I just can not wait till after the election to watch them line up to blame each other. It is going to be fun.

Posted by: Rick on October 26, 2008 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK

May God forgive them.

I wont.

Posted by: on October 26, 2008 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

Rick, we should be more than a little concerned that the efforts of the right generally (not pointing to anyone in particular) over the last six years especially, have convinced their supporters that they alone stand between them and the horrors of the last century, such as totalitarianism, world war and Nazism. There seems to me a very real possibility that it will not be 'fun' in any respect when these same people equate electoral losses with such a descent.

As atrocious as any comparisons to the Holocaust are, even if it had not happened, and the Nazis had done everything else, the charge that the Dems promise to usher in such an ideology is tragically ironic. It can be seen in the numerous calls for purity seen in 'real' American or 'real' ___.

Posted by: jhm on October 26, 2008 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's exactly what we thought all along, that there are no depths they won't dredge.

But this time, America ain't buying.

I think one big reason is because we already have a well-defined enemy, OBL, and he's still out there and alive and devious, while all the rest of the usual boogeymen are long dead. I also think this ugliness stems from a collaborative effort between the Eric Rudolph type of born-againers and from the hysterical wing of the Catholic Church whose long history of manufacturing demons is well known. At the core I suspect we'll find Karl Rove's boys stoking this hysteria for their own sinister motives. (The look on his face, when that woman approached him with handcuffs was priceless. More of that please!)

I base this on some of the mad-crazy blogs I've read where yes, they've already called Obama everything BUT Charlie Manson. It is rather funny watching them desperately attempt to make that Maoist connection.

But we need to see this. We need to know it's there, and nothing, in my lifetime, has brought it to the forefront like this election. Frankly it reminds me a little of the Salem Witchcraft days, when finally, after nearly every person in the town was accused of some outlandish voodoo, they got a grip and realized what idiots they'd been.

Still, 10 days left and I don't think we've seen the worst of it yet.


Posted by: StapleFood on October 26, 2008 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

Why do folk believe that they can compare anything they do not like to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. I know that it was only around 300 detainees and around 20 killed not 6 million but it was OUR horror and should be taken seriously as a particular event not a general purpose metaphor.

They were not reacting to a baseless fear. The Salemites spent several months trying to find a medical reason for their daughters strange seizure-like symptoms before losing their own senses.

One lesson that we should learn from Salem is that single issue judicial investigations may be very bad things. They really want to find something to justify their existence and they operate so quickly and efficiently that the opposition does not have time to organize. Their was plenty of opposition to the witch trials but they were about a month late.

Posted by: Bostonian in Brooklyn on October 26, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

You also shouldn't open your mouth without knowing what the hell you're talking about. No one with even rudimentary knowledge of that period of history would make such a statement because it doesn't make any sense. Heed the signs, they say. What signs, when? The signs in the 30's weren't the same as the ones in the 40's and if one did "heed the warnings," then what? Move to another country (if you could afford it) and hope Hitler and his merry pals didn't show up there too? What if the country you wanted to get to had hung up a No Jews sign and turned you away, even if it knew it was sending you back to your death (cough America cough)?

YES THEY ARE BLAMING THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST.

YES THEY ARE DESPICABLE VILE AND IGNORANT.

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on October 26, 2008 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

The Salemites spent several months trying to find a medical reason for their daughters strange seizure-like symptoms before losing their own senses.

I've never read anything that confirms this notion or even alludes to it. It's my understanding that medical reasons were only discussed years afterward and even then none were ever found.

Can you provide a source?

Posted by: StapleFood on October 26, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I think that email is going to backfire, big time. Blaming the victim usually doesn't sit very well with the victim. That's about the only thing that consoles me when I think of the depths political discourse has fallen to in this country.

That, and the hope that we'll be swearing in President Obama next January.

Posted by: 14All on October 26, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Can we just invoke Godwin's Law now and give Obama the election and have them donate the rest of their campaign $$$ to reinvigorating the Pell Grant movement or some other worthy cause.

We need to stick a fork in it... they are done... in many ways this is way more humiliating than 1984 or 1988.

Posted by: Chuck on October 26, 2008 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Please remove this picture from the website. You made your point (and I agree). The picture is deeply disturbing and does nothing to strengthen your argument. Please take it down.

Posted by: inmemoryofpinky on October 26, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

May God forgive them.

I wont.

"Who keeps on loving you
When you've been lying
Saying things ain't what they seem?

God does.
But I don't.
Good will
But I won't.

And that's the difference
Between God and me."

Posted by: Lyle Lovett on October 26, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Some 'consultant'. Aren't consultants the ones who are supposed to dissuade you from stupid moves when you hire them to help you with a specific aspect of your 'business'. Just did what he was told I guess. 'Disavowing'. Another vicious, sleazy attack happening through osmosis The GOP really needs to figure out who is doing all this 'just awful stuff' in their name.

Posted by: lisaintexas on October 26, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Please take the comments below in the context of the fact that I am a life-long Democrat and enthusiastic supporter of Obama.

Hilzoy, neither your post nor any of the comments above mention Iran. But it simply isn't possible to understand what this guy is talking about if you don't get that reference. The comparison here is between Hitler, who said he wanted to go after the Jewish people and then, horribly, did so, and Ahmedinejad, who speaks of Israel wiped off the map. So the point is that we should take Iran's rhetoric seriously and take that into account as we think about what to do regarding its nuclear program.

I think Obama does, and that he would do a better job than McCain at figuring out how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

But everyone needs to understand this subtext clearly: it is a genuine fear in the Jewish community that Israel might someday be attacked with nuclear weapons by or from Iran.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on October 26, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Larry Birnbaum is right on the money. The mailer was sent out to members of the Jewish community, and what they (we) are being called on to prioritize is the safety and security of Israel, especially in the face of a nuclear threat from Iran, and the Hezbollah arm it funds and supplies in Lebanon (frankly). American Jews, much more than Israelis, take a very hawkish attitude with regard to Israeli politics, and this mailer is preying on that knee jerk hawkishness. It has been demonstrated that in the region peace can be achieved through diplomacy, and most Israelis do support this strategy. Under Bush, negotiations is the region came to a standstill, until quite recently. I look forward to an Obama administration that once again places the US front and centre in diplomatic strategy, though I do worry about whether we have squandered the capital required to leverage negotiations.

Posted by: lisainvan on October 26, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is of course is the cumulative effect of such debase yet continuous onslaught and appeal to fear. After a while, it has a numbing effect, and it's like anything goes--like this latest thing which is I agree just horrific. It's like Palin saying glibly "Never Again" and not knowing what the hell she's talking about it.

I wonder..is there a list somewhere of all the hate that's been spewed out comments and efforts made by the McCain/Palin campaign?

I think there sould be an actual list of all the propoganda and the time frames of every hate comment that implied or outright stated that Obama
is Un-American, Anti-American
Child Molester
Pervert who wants to teach children about sex
Muslim
Dangerous
Terrorist
Socialist
Communist
Not like you or me..
"Kill him" shout outs
the effigies
invoking his middle name
Nobama
Loud Boos and Hissing encouraged
Robo-calls about terrorism, bombing and
so forth


Palin in my view was pivotal here--she was allowed to unleash the darkest of all stuff--beginning with the "Community Organizer" mocking and spiraling downhill from there.

All kinds of horrific shout outs at rallies, folks carrying monkeys, all serving to dehumanize Barack Obama.

McCain only --much later-- superficially confronted that woman on camera and muttered (almost painfully) that Obama is not a muslim (god forbid if he were),adding he's a decent family man. By then it was way too too little to late.

I would like to see all of this chronicled. It needs to be used for our children, for lesson plans, for teaching tolerance. Apparently, it needs to be used for adults even more so.

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 26, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

The comparison here is between Hitler, who said he wanted to go after the Jewish people and then, horribly, did so, and Ahmedinejad, who speaks of Israel wiped off the map. So the point is that we should take Iran's rhetoric seriously and take that into account as we think about what to do regarding its nuclear program.

Except that it's still an invalid comparison. Hitler committed his crimes against the citizens of his own country and the countries he annexed for his empire. Iran attacking Israel would be one sovereign country attacking another sovereign country.

There is a HUGE difference between a country killing its own citizens and one country attacking another. Otherwise, you're arguing that the millions of deaths in Russia during WWII are exactly the same as the deaths in the Holocaust.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on October 26, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

To Staplefood

Sorry, I should not have said several months, it was just a bit over one month. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/ASAL_CH.HTM

I remember reading about some of the parents trying both local doctors and then getting the big-time Boston doctor who gave up. I am sorry that I cannot remember where I read it.

The symptoms of the girls were certainly enough to terrify otherwise sane reasonable people. This sometimes gets dismissed by noting that all adolescent girls act crazy. The Puritans probably knew that.

Posted by: bostonian in Brooklyn on October 26, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

""I had authorization from party officials" to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. "I'm not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I'm not naming names right now," he said."

Right.

Well, we have had 8 years of comparing Bush and Cheney to Hitler, why not Obama? Obama, like Hitler, has spoken and written strong criticisms of capitalism, and Obama supporters try to stifle criticism of Obama. Also, there's the symbol for Obama, the "O" hand salute (thankfully not adopted), the delirium (tingling legs) of the crowds, the extravagant language of saving the planet. Obama himself has not been anti-semitic, but he hasn't got much of a record of denouncing the anti-semitism of his supporters like Farakhan -- who compared him to the Messiah (even calling him the second coming of Lincoln would be extreme.) Of the two, Obama is more like Hitler than Bush has been.

You guys seem to feel that Obama is literally unflawed and beyond reproach.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on October 26, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want to spend a lot of time or emotion on this. So I'll only say, Mnemosyne, that your bizarrely legalistic comments above are entirely beside the point.

Don't bother to engage me in dialog on this, it would simply be too painful for me. I'm done with this thread.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on October 26, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don't bother to engage me in dialog on this, it would simply be too painful for me. I'm done with this thread.
Posted by: larry birnbaum

This attitude, unfortunately, reflects many American's complete unwillingness to discuss Israel honestly. There's a level of nationalism here that's similar to that of the wingnuts, and any attempt to engage the issue on actual policy results in invocation of the Holocaust and subsequent shutdown of conversation.

Hopefully, an Obama presidency can break us out of this destructive cycle, and we'll be step closer to honest brokering in the Mideast.

As an aside, however, MRM remains a fucking idiot, and like many conservatives, remains blind to Bush's policies of aggressive preemptive war, racist jingoism and appeals to nationalism, and approval of torture, rendition, and other war crimes.

Also, fortunately, his positions are being held by people who are increasingly dying off, and soon, our foreign policy will consist of more than ways in which to kill more Arabs.

Posted by: Gonads on October 26, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK


>Except that it's still an invalid comparison.
>Hitler committed his crimes against the citizens
>of his own country and the countries he annexed
>for his empire. Iran attacking Israel would be one
>sovereign country attacking another sovereign
>country.

This is the kind of discourse that Jews should be expecting to hear more of during an Obama administration.

>This attitude, unfortunately, reflects many
>American's complete unwillingness to discuss
>Israel honestly. There's a level of nationalism
>here that's similar to that of the wingnuts, and
>any attempt to engage the issue on actual policy
>results in invocation of the Holocaust and
>subsequent shutdown of conversation.
>
>Hopefully, an Obama presidency can break us out
>of this destructive cycle, and we'll be step
>closer to honest brokering in the Mideast.

That also.

>I think Obama does, and that he would do a
>better job than McCain at figuring out how to
>prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

That, on the other hand, is just wishful thinking.

Posted by: Perry on October 26, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Long time reader/very infrequent poster here, and I just have to say I'm in complete agreement with inmemoryofpinky's comment above. Coming as it does after a paragraph saying,

"We should never forget what the Nazis actually did, or what the Pennsylvania Republican Party has seen fit to invoke so lightly; and we should not dishonor those who were murdered by using them to score cheap political points."

it does nothing to strengthen and, I think, very much undermines the point you rightly express. Please, remove the picture.

Posted by: on October 26, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, forgot to sign my post. The above is mine.

Posted by: Jor-El Sixpack on October 26, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know... Hitler's party was National Socialists (that's where the Nazi comes from). Repugs have been calling Obama a socialist for the past couple of weeks now. Seems to me that the jump from one (socialist) to the other (Nazi) is almost "natural" and that they've been laying foundations for it all the time. Ie, it's not a sudden outburst of particularly spectacular idiocy.

Posted by: exlibra on October 26, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know... Hitler's party was National Socialists (that's where the Nazi comes from). Repugs have been calling Obama a socialist for the past couple of weeks now. Seems to me that the jump from one (socialist) to the other (Nazi) is almost "natural" and that they've been laying foundations for it all the time. Ie, it's not a sudden outburst of particularly spectacular idiocy.

Absolutely, and if one didn't already know that MatthewRMarler has a history of dishonesty and extreme rationalizing rather than stupidity, one would be inclined to attribute his post at 1:03 to this spectacular idiocy--especially when one reads it moments after his post in another thread wondering whether Obama is truly a Marxist.

You usually guard your fake reasonable moderate pose so carefully, Marler. Must have been quite a rough night for you to let so much desperation show. Looking forward to your next post attempting to argue that Obama is simultaneously Hitleresque, Marxist and a devout Muslim.

Posted by: on October 26, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

We well know what atrocities the Nazis committed, and that the email campaign comparing Obama with Hitler was vile and scurrilous. But you further cheapen the discourse--and do nothing for Obama's cause--by running that horrific photograph. Shame on you.

Posted by: Bella Stander on October 26, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's "cheapening the discourse" to display a photo of what the Nazis actually did. The e-mail sent to Jewish voters in Pennsylvania is trying to evoke that image in people's minds, so that they associate Obama with those who permitted the Holocaust to happen. And frankly, as a Jewish voter, I did not get at all that this was supposed to refer to Iran - in fact, I had no idea what the e-mail was talking about.

And let me also point out that the latest polls of the American Jewish population predict that about 75% of American Jewish voters will choose Obama. And also, American Jews generally are not any more hawkish than Israeli Jews when it comes to the Middle East and Israel. So-called Jewish leaders like Malcolm Hoenlein (executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations) might like the rest of the world to think that, but it's actually not true. We are as liberal as we have been for decades.

And Obama has clearly and publicly denounced anti-semitism, including anti-semitism in the African-American community - see the speech he made on Martin Luther King Day this year to the congregation of a Black church.

Posted by: Rebecca Lesses on October 26, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

>Except that it's still an invalid comparison.
>Hitler committed his crimes against the citizens
>of his own country and the countries he annexed
>for his empire. Iran attacking Israel would be one
>sovereign country attacking another sovereign
>country.

This is the kind of discourse that Jews should be expecting to hear more of during an Obama administration.

Jews should expect to hear that Israel is a sovereign country with a strong military and its own set of nuclear weapons and not a colony of the United States? Why aren't they hearing that right now and instead reacting as though Israel has no defenses and no allies?

I assume that if Iran does somehow end up developing their own nuclear weapons, Israel will finally drop their coy pretense that they don't have their own nukes and take their lumps from the IAEA. I understand why they don't want to lose their tactical advantage over Iran but, again, they are not helpless by any means.

I'm all in favor of supporting Israel, but pretending that it is not a sovereign country with its own interests that will sometimes run contrary to the interests of the United States is infantilizing them.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on October 26, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Steve
You pick your partners. hilzoy is a preacher. I find them more trouble than lawyers. You should have remained as you were.

Posted by: EC Sedgwick on October 26, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

The photo is entirely appropriate -- otherwise we are just spinning words. The photo needs to be shoved in the face of the e-mailers so they are reminded of what exactly they are arguing.

Posted by: captcrisis on October 26, 2008 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Hill - You can't show this picture. With due respect, it is too immediate, too personal and has no place in America's pathetic sordid discourse. You shame them, yes. We must Never Forget, yes, but some things are just too horrible for words, too horrific for object lessons. The smallness of the Republican's does not deserve this level of reproach. It does not become them. They are the Keystone Cops to the Nazis.

Posted by: Scott F. on October 26, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

You are looking at the end result of the Nazi's but pay no mind to the conditions that set this in motion. The cultivation of a hate and blame group that quickly turned into a brownshirts type of political movement using violence and intimidation calling all who disagreed traitors. A political, patriotic thug cultivated a brainwashed ignorant authoritarian country first group of angry hatefilled racist supporters just as McCain/Palin incite today. And look who has been cultivating them (the list comes from driftglass.com):

Was it Karl Rove?

Or Tom DeLay?

Or Newt Gingrich?

Was it Roger Ailes?

Glenn Beck?

Tucker Carlson?

Neil Cavuto?

Ann Coulter?

Pat Robertson?

Maybe Chris Wallace?

Lou Dobbs?

Dick Armey?

Robert Novak?

Steve Doocy?

Jesse Helms?

Bob Dornin?

Jerry Falwell?

John Gibson?

Sean Hannity?

Dick Cheney?

Brit Hume?

Rush Limbaugh?

Mary Matalin?

Tony Perkins?

Dick Morris?

Bill O'Reilly?

Phil Gramm?

Michael Savage?

John Hagee?

Monica Crowley?

William Donohue?

Frank Luntz?

Michael Medved?

G. Gordon Liddy?

Or maybe Laura Ingraham?..."

Then we turn and see the videos of such supporters waiting in line at a McCain/Palin rally and wonder "Where did all these sick racist hateful people come from?" If we wish to change these people and the conditions they are being set in then we must eliminate those who whose rhetoric is cultivating them on the national level. Hate radio is not protected by the first amendment when it is seditious and promotes an attitude of violence. When it is divisive enough to set people against each other violently...this McCain campaign is the result of the last 12yrs of cultivation...just saying

Posted by: bjobotts on October 26, 2008 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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