Conservative media personalities from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh, as well as lawmakers and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, have done their best to create a revisionist historical narrative of the Holocaust, Third Reich, and Nazism.Saddam is another Hitler, therefore we must invade Iraq and engage in nation building through a decade of insurgent war. Liberals who admonish Bill O’Reilly are engaging in Nazi tactics by lying, even though politicians throughout history have lied and lying (although relevant) isn’t what allowed Hitler to engage in genocide or conquer Europe. Another great leap of logic is the talking point claiming Nazi Germany didn’t allow citizens gun ownership, so therefore anyone who advocates gun control is allowing another Nazi Germany.
Well, Hitler also had a German Shepherd and was a vegetarian, but that doesn’t make PETA a fascist organization or vegetarians Nazis. In addition, making childish leaps of logic is the hallmark of those who claim Islam is responsible for terrorism, even though George Bush never had a problem dancing with a Saudi prince and said verbatim after 9/11 that, “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends.” There are many other examples of conservatives mangling historical accuracy to further an extreme agenda, but these historically inaccurate analogies often begin with an altered definition of words. Altering words in the hopes of marginalizing and demonizing groups based on their identity, for example condemning someone for having a beard or labeling homosexuals asabnormal, is how Goebbels, Hitler, and the Nazis killed six million Jews and millions of other human beings-including homosexuals. According to the University of Minnesota, up to 63,000 men were convicted of homosexuality in the Third Reich and about 15,000 or more were murdered in concentration camps.
In order to legitimize a new, right-wing version of history (a history where the NRA would have overthrown Hitler), people like Glenn Beck in particular have worked hard to change the definition of words like, “racism.” Whereas the Willie Horton ads of years past once served a purpose for Republicans, today even mentioning something is racist is met with a similar response. To Glenn Beck, for example, racism is no longer minorities claiming persecution because of the color of their skin or ethnic background. Rather, racism according to many conservatives like Beck is having the audacity to claim someone is racist for making outlandish statements like, “Obama has a deep seeded hatred for white people or the white culture.”
Furthermore, Islamophobic diatribes from Bill O’Reilly like, “he absolutely looked like a Muslim… I stand by it” are also used by Republicans and conservatives to demonize, or marginalize a segment of the population. Apparently looking like a Muslim is a bad thing to the Fox News pundit, even though we’ve spent over a decade in two insurgent wars trying to help Muslims and engaging in nation building within two Muslim countries. Also, the LGBT community has never been immune to ignorant statements from conservatives, including Rick Perry’s recent gem (the same Rick Perry with the N-word at the entrance of his Texas ranch) when he stated, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” As for the level of vitriol the LGBT community has faced for decades, conservatives have often times utilized religion to claim homosexuals could be “cured” from their homosexuality, as well as claiming for years that homosexuality was a sin.
The GOP’s level of homophobia is far more reminiscent of the Third Reich than any of the ridiculous analogies of liberals being fascist for wanting to make gay marriage legal or enact sensible gun legislation. According to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, homosexuals were a targeted group in the Third Reich:
Hatred of homosexuals was determined by both party ideology and the personal obsessions of the leaders, and especially of Heinrich Himmler, the main originator of the plan to exterminate homosexuals. For Himmler and other Nazi ideologues, homosexuals — like Jews — were the incarnation of degeneracy. They saw Jews and homosexuals as outsiders and inferior human beings who threatened the purity of der Volk…They accused Jews and homosexuals of using the fact that they were different as a weapon against society.
No, Republicans are not Nazis. However, many in the GOP see homosexuals as “outsiders” and have often claimed a “homosexual agenda,” or conspiracy to further LGBT rights. As Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted on his Facebook page a little while back, “Part of the homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle.”
As for other types of fear mongering, a recent Heritage foundation conference exemplified a sad display of Islamophobia. During the panel discussion, American University Law student Saba Ahmed made the relevant point that most Muslims are good people, yet are labeled as threats by the media and lawmakers. Brigitte Gabriel, a panelist at the Heritage event, responded by using the following illogical and dangerous analogy:
“When you look throughout history, most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and, as a result, 60 million died…”
“On Sept. 11, we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims in the United States. It took 19 hijackers, 19 radicals, to bring the United States to its knees… the peaceful majority were irrelevant.
What better way to combat prejudice and ignorance than focusing on 19 terrorists while completely marginalizing 2.3 million innocent human beings? Reducing all of WWII to less than three sentences was also classic.
The truth of the matter is that genocidal regimes are started through words and propaganda that marginalize a certain group; a minority of people who are blamed for the perceived or actual infractions of a few within their religion, race, or ethnic group. While Rutgers University Professor Emeritus Peter Golden has explained that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are ”two ugly twins”, the fact that both hatreds begin with prejudice and dangerous leaps of logic (“the peaceful majority were irrelevant”) speaks volumes. Also, as explained by Edward Kissi inAuschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, genocides are enabled by fear, prejudice, and myth making:
Genocide happens through a combination of factors: 1) ethnic prejudice, racism, and other forms of hatred; 2) fear of the other; 3) extreme forms of nationalism; 4) radical and absurd ideas of social change; 5) myth-making–just simply the idea of creating mythologies around a group, constructing the group as the embodiment of all evil; and 6) the desire on the part of the state to engage in extreme propaganda against the group that motivates large numbers of people to go out and destroy that particular group.
Which political party in the United States engages in “fear of the other?” How do both political parties in the U.S. view the LGBT community, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and people on government assistance? Which political party furthered the myth that President Obama is a Kenyan with a forged birth certificate, or that the ACA will lead to death panels?
As Jasjit Singh of SALDEF eloquently penned in a recent article, ignorant statements hurt all Americans:
“They have fostered a climate of fear and hostility, which has threatened the safety and liberty of millions of Americans — Sikh, Muslim and otherwise. We must stand up, not just as Sikh Americans, but as Americans, to defend tolerance and acceptance. The beard is not a threat. It is our right.
The political goal of making a different group become the enemy and “the other” is what every Hitler analogy should revolve around, not the vapid uses of quotes from Nazis that could apply to all politicians.
With every accusation that links all Muslims with terrorism, gay people with some genetic abnormality, or allegations painting a political rival as a traitor (Anne Coulter’s book, example), Adolf Hitler smiles gleefully from a blazing inferno below.
H.A. Goodman, from Huffington Post