The Offensive Bonhoeffer Comparison

The Offensive Bonhoeffer Comparison April 16, 2015

Many times I’ve reported about Christian right bigots comparing themselves to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who was killed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Jack Jenkins at Think Progress points out why this comparison is so incredibly offensive.

First, there are obvious historical differences between Bonhoeffer’s context and that of today’s anti-LGBT Christians. Bonhoeffer assisted in an attempt to assassinate Hitler (the subject of a recent film starring Tom Cruise), primarily because the infamous Führer was actively coopting Christian churches in Germany for his own needs, seizing whole sections of Europe using one of the most powerful militaries ever assembled, and waging one of the bloodiest wars in human history with the goal of establishing a new world order based on the supposed genetic supremacy of white Germans. This in addition to Hitler’s overseeing of the Holocaust, the systematic murder of millions of Jews, Romani people, Poles, communists, and yes, LGBT people as a part of his “Final Solution.” This genocide was enacted by requiring Jews and others to wear symbols acknowledging their “non-Aryan” status, siloing them into ghettos, shipping them off to concentration camps, forcing them into gas chambers, and performing perverse, horrific medical experiments on Jewish men, women, and even children.

By contrast, today’s conservative Christians such as Scarborough are invoking Bonhoeffer because LGBT people are being granted the right to marry in the United States.

Regardless of one’s politics or theology, these two situations are not in any way equivalent, and the comparison is offensive on the face of it.

It all goes back to the fact that today’s right wing has Nazi Tourettes and their need to, sometimes quite literally, demonize their opponents. Everyone they oppose is Adolf Hitler. Every policy they don’t like is a precursor to the concentration camps. Allowing gay people to get married? Hitler! Giving poor people access to affordable health care? Hitler! Making such a ridiculous and obnoxious comparison should be a matter of deep embarrassment. The fact that it isn’t speaks volumes.


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