Eichenwald: Stop the Nazi Analogies

Eichenwald: Stop the Nazi Analogies March 21, 2014

I’ve remarked many times on the fact that wingnuts seem to think everything is the Third Reich roaring back to life. Having to buy health insurance? Hitler! Can’t discriminate against gay people anymore? Hitler! Losing your privilege to base law on your religious views? Hitler! Kurt Eichenwald says enough is enough.

It is hard to fully comprehend the magnitude of the Nazi death camps and their impact on the lives of untold millions. But, even so, there are a few things I can say for certain: the Nazis, and the Holocaust they brought were nothing like Obamacare. Or the national debt. Or political correctness. Or criticism of economic inequality. Or the Tea Party. Or the Internal Revenue Service. Or the Obama administration. Or the Bush administration. Or any of the other masses of infinitesimal flotsam spewed up in self-pitying and hysterical analogies by vulgarians with more mouth than brain…

Ben Carson, current darling of the Republican Party whose name is touted as a potential presidential candidate: You compared your feeling of being stifled by “political correctness” to the torment and murder of 13-year-old Sochi Piaskovski and millions of other children. (The American government and its institutions are “very much like Nazi Germany. . . . We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”) I will assume that, after you made those comments, the Obama administration responded by descending upon you, loading you and your family onto a train, and stuffing you into a gas chamber.

No? Then shut up.

Tom Perkins, multi-millionaire venture capitalist: You compared liberal criticism of income inequality and the excesses of the überwealthy to the slaughter of Jakub Piaskovski’s entire family. (“I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘1 percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American 1 percent, namely the ‘rich.’”) I will assume that the tortured and tormented corpses of every member of your family have been burned to ash by progressives, and that you have not had a good night’s sleep for most of your life because of the guilt you feel for surviving.

No? Then shut up.

Ted Nugent, aging rock star, gun enthusiast, conservative spokesman: You comparedObamacare to the beginnings of Nazi Germany. I will assume you mean that you are now preparing to tear out your fillings in hopes of saving a family member while you are imprisoned, starving, cold, and awaiting your death.

No? Then shut up.

Yes, all of you. Shut up, and apologize for demeaning one of history’s most unspeakable crimes. I mean you, Ted Cruz, Republican senator who proclaimed that fighting to defund Obamacare is like fighting to stop the Nazis. And you, Tim Donnelly, Republican candidate for California governor who likened Obama to Hitler because of gun control. And you, Rick Santorum, former GOP senator and presidential candidate who said that failing to fight against Obama’s reelection was like failing to fight Hitler in 1940; he later justified the statement by saying he has used the World War II metaphor “a hundred times.” And you, Bill O’Reilly, political commentator who said the Huffington Post used Nazi tactics and that liberal supporters of gun control embraced the sort of “state control” established by Hitler. And you, Stephen Schwarzman, billionaire co-founder of the Blackstone Group, who proclaimed that some of Obama’s tax proposals were a declaration of war, like “when Hitler invaded Poland.” And you, George W. Bush, whose campaign went all out with the Nazi analogy by releasing a video showing John Kerry, Al Gore, Howard Dean and other Democratic Party luminaries intercut with images of Hitler. And you, Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA who has used Nazi comparisons to keep gun owners frightened and has even raised the prospect that they may face mass execution. And you, Glenn Beck, who has compared so many people and circumstances to Nazi Germany so many times that the great comedian Lewis Black proclaimed l that Beck suffers from “Nazi Tourette’s.”

He also cites examples of liberals doing it. Ironically, you want to know the one thing that we can not only reasonably compare to the Nazis but that we can even reasonably say was worse than what Hitler did? The God of the Bible and his frequent demands for genocide, not to mention the barbaric concept of hell. That’s a scale of suffering that Hitler couldn’t even dream of. But no, increasing taxes on the rich back to 1990s levels, that is what reminds the Christian right of Hitler while they worship the only one who could be called worse.

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  • matty1

    You know who else said enough is enough?

  • Artor


    My mom?

  • Eichenwald is right and wrong.

    If we compare the actions of anyone who’s not a murderous motherfucking monsters of the Gestapo, the Totenkopf SS and the einsatzgruppen who attempted to exterminate the jews of Europe then, yeah, that’s inaccurate. But comparing people who want to keep others from enjoying their human and civil rights or who just acquiesce to those who do. Well, they’re every bit the same sort of people as the rank and file Nazis and other good germans who went along to get along instead of repudiating Hitler, his party and its policies BEFORE it became treason to do so. They didn’t want to kill the jews but they wanted someone else to blame for their problems and, hey, isn’t that a wonderful piano in that newly vacant house?

  • regexp

    I’m too lazy to look it up but as memory servers Ed – you are guilty of this too.

  • doublereed

    Eichenwald? Sounds like a German name to me…

  • To be fair, when comparing things to Hitler things don’t look so bad, in comparison (“Sure, the economy’s bad, but then on the other hand, Hitler”).

  • eric

    The comparison has a value – it tells you the speaker is either unhinged, overcommitted to their cause, blind to nuance, and/or cynically manipulative of the people they claim to represent.

    IOW, nazi comparisons are generally a good gauge of whether you should trust the person using them to be making a defensible point (answer: “no.”)

  • Todd

    Let’s just compare everyone to Stalin instead. Obamacare is just like the Gulags.

  • Stacy

    Or any of the other masses of infinitesimal flotsam spewed up in self-pitying and hysterical analogies by vulgarians with more mouth than brain…

    Tell it to the poor oppressed Slymepitters and MRAs who are banned from commenting on Pharyngula because PZ Myers is just like you-know-who.

    (Next up: can we have a moratorium on the phrase “witch hunt,” please?)

  • sugarfrosted

    @5 Funny story about that. Quite a few eastern European Jewish names are Germanic… Mostly because Yiddish, historically called Judeogerman, is a Germanic language closely related to Hochdeutsch (Mittelhochdeutsch is the common ancestor.)





    All of these are Yiddish last names, all of them Germanic and if you read the article the author mentions he is of Eastern European descent. (If you didn’t know this don’t feel bad, It’s a common misconception that Yiddish is closely related linguistically. Other than some borrowings and the alphabet they’re totally different.)

  • sugarfrosted

    An encyclopedia about (Eastern European) Jewish last names, if you’re interested. http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Names_and_Naming

    (PS Sorry about the double post)

  • dingojack

    And if his name were ‘Smith’ would the argument be more, less or just as likely to be right?

    Stalin and his gulags, Mao’s idiotic ‘Great Leap Forward’, The Thirty Year War (in per capita terms) = WORSE THAN HITLER!!! (Note: Not a Godwin).


  • Crudely Wrott

    Whoa. ‘Bout time. Thanks, Kurt. Thank you multiple times. I will raise your statement against this rabid stupidity at every opportunity. Thanks again. =)

    If these lack wit, apprentice half wits cozying up to dim wits don’t understand what you are so plainly stating well, then . . . spit, sputter, . . . well, then HITLER! He never paid attention to real wit anyhow so fuck him and anyone who so casually and so dimwittingly wave that dull knife around.

    Nuff said. Noamsaahyin?

  • jamessweet

    Ironically, you want to know the one thing that we can not only reasonably compare to the Nazis but that we can even reasonably say was worse than what Hitler did? The God of the Bible and his frequent demands for genocide, not to mention the barbaric concept of hell.

    Well, except that the Nazis weren’t fictional. So in a way, even this comparison is demeaning…

  • anubisprime

    Even Benny the ex-Pope could not resist equating atheism with Nazism…seems to be the go to metaphor when the righteous babble about something they find intolerable.

    And the audience laps it up, who is to blame here, the dumbfuck audience or the muppet that spouts such asinine bullshite because he knows the audience laps it up?

  • jesse

    Well, the Nazis sort of became the go-to metaphor for evil.

    There are legitimate comparisons to be made. The problem is that they tend to fall on right-wing groups, since many militia groups really are Nazis, by their own admission. (Admission is the wrong word here, maybe I should say, “proud proclamation.”)

    And since the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, made a deal with the devil under Nixon (hello Southern Strategy! You’re looking mighty fine these past few years!) they shouldn’t be surprised when leftists compare them with fascists. Because they are. They share the same pathologies and if it looks like a duck…

    Right wing people then start frothing about how the real fascists are those awful people oppressing them — usually the very people they have been stomping on for years. I’m looking at you, Jonah Goldberg.

    (Jonah’s book is a fascinating psychological study. He seems awfully interested in gay Nazi BDSM imagery… hey Jonah, I know some really good clubs for you to join an they won’t judge!)

    It’s always projection…

  • matty1

    OK, Nazism and Fascism were there own things, and not identical by any means. They may have had bits that matched up with the right and (yes I’ll admit it) the left of the time but the idea that because of that present day politicians or commentators are “Just like Hitler!!!111” is simply absurd.

    It wasn’t keeping some Weimar era laws on gun control or old Prussian ideas about military discipline and pride that made Hitler evil that was the ferocious racism, dictatorship, wars of conquest and desire to kill everyone he didn’t like. If someone today has some of those traits then sure call them out for it but if they don’t have them all I don’t think a Hitler comparison is the best way to do it.

    Are the Republicans Fascists or Nazis, I’m not a close observer but I kind of doubt it. I’ll grant you that they do pretty well on the war front (though the Democrats are no slackers there) and there is some racism but to the best of my knowledge.

    – The racism is not on Nuremberg levels, as I say I may be wrong but I don’t hear of people openly advocating laws that ban certain groups from business and the professions let alone calling for mass deportation to death camps.

    – Hyperbole aside, not many Republican seriously advocate the execution of their political opponents

    – They do not advocate dictatorship in the sense of openly saying that when they gain power future elections will be cancelled and other political parties made illegal.

    None of this should be taken as saying that the Republican party is at all nice or that they don’t do a lot of harm to a lot of people and have the potential to do more but they are not Hitler.

  • @Matty1:

    ‘The racism is not on Nuremberg levels, as I say I may be wrong but I don’t hear of people openly advocating laws that ban certain groups from business and the professions let alone calling for mass deportation to death camps.’

    You’re not going to the right bars and committee meetings. Trust me, there are a fuckton of murderous racist fantasists on the ReiKKKwing of U.S. politics. They haven’t learned that we are ALL human, they HAVE learned (the ones who are “successful”, at least) that saying publicly what they say behind closed doors or in their own heads is not, generally, a good idea.