The Most Insane Holocaust/Nazi Analogies and References of the Year
2013 saw quite a few politicians and prominent people abusing the English language, and specifically using the absurd argument that events and actions in the present are just like what Hitler and the Nazis did during the Holocaust. It’s Reductio ad Hitlerum and in the process it debases the terminology referring to the Holocaust and the Final Solution. These people have little understanding of history, let alone current events, and they conflate the two to suit their political objectives. Facts fall by the wayside. And the horror of the Holocaust is eroded in the process of making these absurd claims.
Just so we’re working from the same dictionary, here are some actual facts about the Nazis.
Despite the singular nature of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, there are a whole lot of people who think that making analogies to the Holocaust is acceptable.
I’ve boiled the analogies down to four general themes - based mainly on the focus of the analogy.
The first deals with health care reform, otherwise known as Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.
One particular instance in January could be treated as the most insane Holocaust analogy of the year, except that we were just getting warmed up.
According to Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R), Idaho should refuse to set up a state-run health exchange under Obamacare because, although the federal government is using private insurers for the time being, the Obama administration will eventually “pull the trigger” on those companies to establish a socialistic health care system.
Nuxoll posted her comments on Twitter, as well as included them in an email blast to 120 supporters:
The insurance companies are creating their own tombs. Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange. Based on legislation and the general process that is written toward this legislation, the federal government will want nothing to do with private insurance companies. The feds will have a national system of health insurance and they will eliminate the insurance companies.
When the Idaho Spokesman-Review asked Nuxoll to clarify her comments, she doubled down on them. Nuxoll said she didn’t mean to disrespect any group of people with her analogy, and explained she said it because “I felt badly for the Jews — it wasn’t just Jews, but Jews, and Christians, and Catholics, and priests. My thing was they didn’t know what was going on. The insurance companies are not realizing what’s going to end up in their demise.”
This Idaho Republican somehow thinks that a US law that is designed to expand access to health insurance is “much like” the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people in the gas chambers and putting them on cattle cars.
And from today, we have this gem from North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican:
Justice Robert's pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined.
— Bob Rucho (@SenatorBobRucho) December 15, 2013
The health care reform in the US has generated quite a few Nazi/Holocaust references over the past few years, but few things stir the Nazi references more than gun control or any kinds of firearms reforms. That’s the second theme.
This too was from January, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre.
One of the common forms of this nonsensical analogy is when people and organizations Tweet that if only Jews had guns they would not have had to endure the Holocaust.
NRA Board Member: “His grandparents were Holocaust survivors…So you’ve got to wonder why he is not getting it.” http://t.co/NkaElwcET1
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) December 13, 2013
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 13, 2013
Lest we forget, the NRA’s own Wayne LaPierre spreads this nonsense as well.
This would, of course, ignore facts, history, and logic. The analogy fails primarily because of the fallacy that gun control was somehow central to the rise of the Nazi party and that the lack of firearms prevented opponents from overthrowing the Nazi regime.
Unfortunately for LaPierre et al., the notion that Hitler confiscated everyone’s guns is mostly bogus. And the ancillary claim that Jews could have stopped the Holocaust with more guns doesn’t make any sense at all if you think about it for more than a minute.
University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt explored this myth in depth in a 2004 article published in the Fordham Law Review. As it turns out, the Weimar Republic, the German government that immediately preceded Hitler’s, actually had tougher gun laws than the Nazi regime. After its defeat in World War I, and agreeing to the harsh surrender terms laid out in the Treaty of Versailles, the German legislature in 1919 passed a law that effectively banned all private firearm possession, leading the government to confiscate guns already in circulation. In 1928, the Reichstag relaxed the regulation a bit, but put in place a strict registration regime that required citizens to acquire separate permits to own guns, sell them or carry them.
The 1938 law signed by Hitler that LaPierre mentions in his book basically does the opposite of what he says it did. “The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition,” Harcourt wrote. Meanwhile, many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years.
Just as important is the fact of the nationality of the victims of the Holocaust.
All but about 130,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis lived outside Germany. Nearly 4.5 million lived in Poland and Russia - both of which had standing armies that failed to stop the Nazi invasions of both countries. The rest lived in countries that also fell to the Nazis, including much of France, the low Countries, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Romania, or were allied with the Nazis, including Italy.
The Polish army disintegrated against the Nazis in under a month; the entire country was overrun in weeks, with the Soviets invading as well. Nearly half of all Holocaust victms lived in Poland, which had a standing army and air force protecting it.
The French army had superior equipment as compared to the Nazis, but they lost to superior tactics in under two months time. The British and Allied army remnants were thrown off the Continent at Dunkirk.
The Nazis then invaded Russia, capturing enough territory to encompass millions of Jews living there - in total, nearly 5 of the 6 million Holocaust victims were living in Russia and Poland - not in Nazi Germany.
Russia had a huge standing army, complete with tanks, planes, and division upon division of infantry.
The Soviets had a larger military than the invading Nazis by all metrics, but the Nazis had the advantage of surprise and superior tactics at the outset. The Soviet response was to trade land for time to regroup and attack.
Despite the larger numerical size of the Soviet military, it was nearly defeated and sieges were laid upon the biggest cities in the USSR - Stalingrad, Leningrad, and came within shooting distance of Moscow.
The Nazis invaded countries with large Jewish populations and with standing armies that were shattered by the Nazi invasion. No amount of individual gun ownership would have saved anyone under those circumstances. Firearms ownership is quite besides the point when an enemy country invades your country with more firepower than your own government can repel.
Also, this analogy purposefully ignores that even major Jewish uprisings like in Warsaw were eventually snuffed out and even the Warsaw ghetto was liquidated with its survivors sent to the death camps.
But more substantively, this analogy fails the smell test the moment you realize that the Nazis defeated entire armies with superior firepower, that a few German Jews (who were a minority of all Nazi victims) with guns would stand no chance.
The third insane Nazi analogy of the year deals with political procedures.
This past November, US Senator Harry Reid amended the rules regarding filibusters and Senate rules for what would allow votes on nominations to move forward. It was a procedural act to address the stalemate in the Senate and the failure to confirm presidential nominees to various postings. And yet, the rhetoric from the right included all kinds of Nazi references, with this one being just a representative sample:
The Obama NAZIS have made a power grab, and the people of the United States of America have less power today than they had yesterday. Barack Obama’s celebrating his power grab by laughing in the media right in your faces, Americans may be too dumb stupid to even know that’s what’s just happened. What’s been ripped apart is the meaning and glory of an America that once stood for something. Now the US stands for nothing. The people are made losers by their servants. An American sellout from an American President and American Senate.
That’s right, the ability to limit debate so as to bring about a vote that enables those opposed to the nomination to still vote against that person is akin to a Nazi power grab. Note too that as soon as the rule was changed, votes proceeded and the formerly obstructed nominations proceeded without incident, including several on a wide bipartisan basis indicating that the purpose of the filibuster was to obstruct at all costs on the politics and not on the qualifications of those involved (the confirmation process is about advise and consent - not to block and thwart nominees on political basis alone).
A fourth kind of Nazi analogy is the slow fall into Nazism, as identified by Glenn Beck and his followers. Beck has no problems showing off his significant collection of Nazi memorabilia in Salt Lake City this past June. Beck has a warped sense of history and thinks nothing of trying to compare current events to the rise of the Nazi regime. He has no problem juxtaposing those Nazi artifacts with contemporary events/descriptions is an attempt to convince viewers that there are parallels and that we should oppose the Obama Administration at every opportunity because of the slippery slope to Nazism.
Honorable Mentions go to the following:
- MSNBC analyst Michael Eric Dyson, who in an appearance in June characterized Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's vote with the majority overturning a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as, "A symbolic Jew has invited a metaphoric Hitler to commit holocaust and genocide upon his own people."
- Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson), who compared President Obama to Hiter in relation to the government shutdown that included shuttering National Parks nationwide.
- One of the leaders of the Tea Party movement, Judson Phillips, has no problem dissembling and thinking that President Obama is out to create a one-party state using both Hitlerian and Stalinist tactics.
- Glenn Beck makes the list again, calling New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg a Nazi. It's doubly insulting considering that Bloomberg is Jewish
- Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said that American exceptionalism is reminiscent of Nazism "before and during World War II.
Cross posted at A Blog For All