Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yeah, those Nazi comparisons are getting a bit old

I noticed AKMuckraker taking on the efforts by wingnuts (with the help of their corporate masters) to portray what I consider a relatively tepid attempt at health "care" reform with Nazi and Holocaust imagery. To put it bluntly, this particular tired song-and-dance by our more right-wing extremist and nationalist elements seemed a bit well-worn, and so I did a bit of digging around. Turns out that it seems well-worn because it is well-worn.

Here, now is a trip down memory lane. These are all from the winter of 2004.

My opponents are Nazis: Or the Pot Calls the Kettle Black, in which I made the following observation:
Actaully one of the things I've noticed is that Republicans have played fast and loose with the Nazi and Hitler imagery for a long time. One thing I'll be doing over the course of the next few weeks, as time permits, is to document instances in which mass media figures associated with the GOP, mass media organs, GOP officials and organizations, and ordinary people who associate themselves with the GOP or other right-wing groups have attempted to smear Democrats, and more broadly liberals and progressives as "nazis". Rush Limbaugh's liberal use of the term "feminazi" is of course well-known and adopted by numerous dittoheads nationwide. He's far from alone, as we shall see.
In But Wait....There's More! I began to catalogue a few of the those very efforts by right-wingers (sadly, most of those links have gone dead). That process continued with Those wacky liberal nazis, Pot, Kettle, Black; Or In One Word -- Hitlery, Norquist Defends His Nazi Comments, More Pot + Kettle = Black, Right-Wing Hypocrisy: Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel, and Back in the Day, When the Wingnuts Likened a US President to Hitler. It bears repeating that due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, many of the links that I included have gone dead. The larger point though is still quite alive: right-wingers seem to raise the specter of Nazism any time there is a remotely organized effort to enhance human rights, dignity, and liberty. Just like the days when the Clintons (as the faces of the center-right Democratic Party in the 1990s) were compared to Hitler, Obama (as the face of the same center-right Democratic Party today) is compared to Hitler. Apparently, nothing really has changed. Just do a Google search using such terms as "feminism and Nazism", "feminazi", "Hitlery", "gun control and Nazism", "Clinton and Hitler", and see what kinds of hits you get. Then, while you're at it, do a Google search for "health care reform and Nazism" or "Obama and Hitler" and I'll wager you'll notice something strikingly familiar in what you read. It is worth pointing out that using Nazi imagery in this manner serves to diminish the meaning of such terms as "Nazi", "Nazism", "Holocaust", and "Hitler", and quite frankly mocks the very people and groups who were victimized by the Nazi regime during the 1930s and 1940s.

I tend to use care in using Nazism and its leader, Adolph Hitler, in any analogizing because I believe it is crucial to preserve the meaning of those terms: Nazism (as an exemplar of fascism) was and is (to the extent that there are still an unnervingly high number of people who identify with Nazism) a right-wing phenomenon. Nazism was corporatist, militarist, extremely racist, sexist, and highly genocidal. The analogy can work to a certain (often limited) extent in characterizing highly right-wing nationalist governments and government officials, as well as right-wing extremist organizations. However, to characterize a fairly centrist piece of health care reform legislation with Nazi imagery is beyond preposterous, and anyone doing so should be called out on their bullshit right then and there.

A note in the margin: there are reasons why I tend to characterize the US Democratic Party as center-right. I won't go into the details at the moment, partially because I likely already have at some point in the past. Suffice it to say, if one were to place US politics in a larger, global context, we'd find that the Democratic Party as we know it has a great deal in common with the sorts of center-right parties one would encounter in Europe. Not too surprisingly, I have likely mentioned elsewhere that the current GOP has a great deal in common with far-right-wing nationalist parties (I consider the GOP and England's BNP to be cut largely from the same cloth). We currently do not have a viable organized leftist party in the US - nothing akin to a "Social Democratic" or "Labor" party that would have any hope of winning elections. The hows and whys of that reality are important, but beyond the scope of this particular post.

One more note in the margin: for a set of links that more properly characterize Nazism, here's an old post on Nazi history from Mostly Links.

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