Nazi rhetoric dishonors victims

August 21, 2009


I hope this column makes you sick.

See, we’ll be talking about Nazis, something many of us are doing lately. Indeed, just this week a fellow named Joseph e-mailed me about a caller he heard on a radio show. The man, vexed over health care reform, likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler. Asked why, he said, “Hitler took over the car companies, then health care and then he killed the Jews.”

Said Joseph: “I almost swerved my vehicle off the road when I heard that.”

But the caller is hardly unique. Google “Obama + Nazis” and you get almost 7 million hits. Nor is the phenomenon new. Substitute President Bush’s name and you get nearly 2.8 million.

Even granting that many of those hits are benign, it seems obvious the Nazis have invaded American political rhetoric in a big way. As in Rush Limbaugh declaring health care reform “a Hitler-like policy,” swastikas popping up at protest rallies, a poster depicting Obama with Hitler’s moustache and a pamphlet that says: “Act Now To Stop Obama’s Nazi Health Plan!”

It’s important to remember that the Nazis are passing out of living memory; U.S. soldiers of that era are said to be dying at the rate of 1,200 a day. Which makes it too easy, I think, for a nation of notorious historical illiteracy to remake the Nazis as some kind of all-purpose boogeymen for slandering political enemies and scoring cheap rhetorical points.

So I thought it would be good to make you sick, i.e., to spend a few minutes reminding some and teaching others what you invoke when you invoke the Nazi regime.

For the record, then: It was Nazis who shoved sand down a boy’s throat until he died, who tossed candies to Jewish children as they sank to their deaths in a sand pit, who threw babies from a hospital window and competed to see how many of those “little Jews” could be caught on a bayonet, who injected a cement-like fluid into women’s uteruses to see what would happen, who stomped a pregnant woman to death, who once snatched a woman’s baby from her arms and, in the words of a witness, “tore him as one would tear a rag.”

That’s who the Nazis were, ladies and gentlemen — those obscenities plus 6 million more. They were the triumph of ideology over reason and even over humanity, the demonization of racial, religious and political difference, the objectification of the vulnerable other. And the authors of a mass murder that staggers imagination, still.

You would think, then, that where they are invoked to draw a parallel or make a point, it would be done with a respect for the incalculable evil the Nazis represent. You would think people would tread carefully, not because of the potential insult to a given politician (they are big boys and girls) but because to do otherwise profanes the profound and renders trivial that which ought to be held sacred by anyone who regards himself as a truly human being.

But in modern America, unfortunately, rhetoric often starts over the top and goes up from there. So fine, George W. Bush is “a smirking chimp.” Fine, Barack Obama is “a Chicago thug.” We have a Constitution, after all, and it says we can say whatever we want. It doesn’t say it has to be intelligent.

And yes, you are even protected if you liken Obama or Bush to Hitler. Yet every time I hear that, it makes me cringe for what it says about our collective propensity for historical amnesia and our retarded capacity for reverence. Once upon a lifetime ago, 6 million people with DNA, names and faces just like you and I, were butchered with gleeful sadism and mechanistic dispatch. “Six million people.”

You and I may no longer respect one another, but is it asking too much that we still respect them?


Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

This is happening because people have such a small vocabulary and are not very articulate. I am guessing that some people want to make an historical reference and world war ll is all they know about. They have heard the names Hitler and Nazi from others used to insult someone and so they do.

jonas_opines 8 years, 7 months ago

Bull@#$% Irish. This is the use of a tactic of demonization because they do not have the rationality or intelligence to come up with anything valid. Going for now and in previous administrations.

jimmyjms 8 years, 7 months ago

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Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

Did Pitts ever get his knickers twisted by seeing any of the Bush/Hitler signs that were common features at protests from 2000 through 2008? Cry me a river, Lenny.

kcgregory 8 years, 7 months ago

"Did Pitts ever get his knickers twisted by seeing any of the Bush/Hitler signs that were common features at protests from 2000 through 2008?"

It looks to me like he condemned right along with condemning the Obama/Hitler comparisions. Do you disagree with the article snap?

TheYetiSpeaks 8 years, 7 months ago

People are just mostly uninformed when it comes to history. Comparing Obama or Bush to Hitler is a good way to lose any argument or debate very quickly. Instead the debater should concentrate on the rising powers of our federal government over the last 30 years and compare it to Pre-Hitler Germany, specifically those things that led to Hitler's regime. No one should compare Obama to Hitler. But our federal government should be aware of the doors to vulnerability they open to future "bad" guys.

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

"I thought we were beyond the quantity of Google hits actually meaning something."

Indeed. Stupid argument using google as the barometer. However, for grins and giggles I did google "Obama + Nazis", with the necessary quotations to limit the search. I came up with 11,400 hits. I did the same with "Bush + Nazis" and came up with 17,500. While it is true that there were two presidents named Bush, I suspect that most are connected to the son.

Yes, the rhetoric of using Nazis as a comparison demonstrates a complete lack of imagination. However, I would have preferred Pitts write this same column regarding the term "Feminazis." He could have written it long ago. Since my father actually fought against real-life Nazis in WWII, it has always been a particularly bothersome word in my book.

MyName 8 years, 7 months ago

Umm... yes there is. Facism is a right-wing political ideology, while Communism is the lefty version of the same totalitarian BS.

And there is almost no comparison between post-WWI Germany and the present day U.S. Unless you're crazy. Then I'm sure you can find enough to fill out a message board with worthless tripe that no one will ever take seriously.

Oh, and you know who else liked to buy his wife flowers?!? HITLER!!


beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

My favorite comparison to Hitler is the website Cats That Look Like Hitler -- they are called "kitlers." http://www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com/cgi-bin/seigmiaow.pl

TheYetiSpeaks 8 years, 7 months ago

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Whaaaaat???

Flap Doodle 8 years, 7 months ago

E.C.U = Electric Cat Uniforms? Enormous Canned Udders? Extra Crispy Ungulates?

beawolf 8 years, 7 months ago

Mr_Nancy_Boy_To_You (Tom Shewmon) says… "Besides, this administration bears much more resemblance to Mussolini and/or Marx" "In all fairness, it's a disservice to Hitler and Nazis to compare Obama to them."

Your idiocy continues to amaze me. I've never seen you, but I picture a skin head with swastikas tattooed on your forehead. I certainly hope there are no children in your household that are exposed to this type of lunacy.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

What kind of a mind came up with that baby game and what does that say about us as a species? Tossing babies on bayonets and laughing because that is just so funny? We have forgotten the real horrors that humans can inflict on each other, and do it with joy. Nothing that President Obama has done so far can even begin to compete with these things.

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

in all fairness, tom is running out of his trolling power.... it used to be fun to read...now it sounds as nutty as can be.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 7 months ago

This is lazy demagoguery. Using nazi references is usually done by those with no good ideas or arguments of their own.

The references to Bush as a nazi and Hitler were equally vapid.

Conservatives have nothing else, though. The right-wing movement in America is in an intellectual funk, which they brought on themselves by their constant assault on education, reason, and facts.

They securely have the 20% of americans who are ignorant, uneducated, lower middle class, white, southern, and angry.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

So, am I to take it that no one cares what the Nazis did to people?

Phil Minkin 8 years, 7 months ago

As John Stewart said: These people don't see the irony in calling Obama(a mixed race male) and Barney Frank(a homosexual Jew) Nazis.

Shane Garrett 8 years, 7 months ago

yourworstnightmare states: "They securely have the 20% of americans who are ignorant, uneducated, lower middle class, white, southern, and angry." Sounds like democrates to me. As most Republicans are suppose to be upper middle class, educated and business owners.

jaywalker 8 years, 7 months ago

"We have forgotten the real horrors that humans can inflict on each other, and do it with joy."

Give us a break, Irish. Noone's forgotten anything, and there's no need to reach back 70 years for man's inhumnaity to man; See: Sudan and/or Congo

jehovah_bob 8 years, 7 months ago

All I want to know is where do I sign up to serve on the death panel?

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 7 months ago

Nazi... n-word... four letters... spanning the alphabet... it's got it all.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 7 months ago

wallythewalrus said: "Sounds like democrates to me. As most Republicans are suppose to be upper middle class, educated and business owners."

No, it was I, yourworstnightmare, who wrote that. I can assure you I am not an ancient Greek philosopher.

As for what republicans are supposed to be, I cannot say. However, I am basing my statement on fact. The hard rightward tilt and angry, nasty rhetoric of the modern GOP has alienated many middle class educated business owners (moderates). This is why Obama won.

Unless the GOP stops this ignorant nonsense such as the likes of Limbaugh, Palin, et al., they could lose this moderate block for a long time.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 7 months ago

Shewmon, please read my posts carefully before responding. Tell me how blacks and hispanics fit into the categories I explained? I said white, lower middle class, and southern.

I would agree that Obama got the votes of the young, blacks and hispanics, uneducated or not.

These are demographics that are currently completely out of play for the GOP. Add to that educated white moderates, and the republicans will be in the woods for a long time.

GOP demographics: The white southern uneducated lower middle class.

Democrat demographics: Everyone else, including all minorities, educated and wealthy whites, moderates, and many seniors of every race.

Please try to keep up, Shewmon.

mickeyrat 8 years, 7 months ago

Once upon a time, there were reasonable, intelligent Republicans who could make both civilized and coherent arguments for conservative policies.

I miss those days. They were much more interesting & compelling than the Godwinites.

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

tra: "Nazi… n-word… four letters… spanning the alphabet… it's got it all."


That isn't just lol funny, it is fantastic! Nice observation and play with words. Really, one of the cleverest lines I've ever read here. Well played tange!

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

"Once upon a time, there were reasonable, intelligent Republicans who could make both civilized and coherent arguments for conservative policies."

Yes, but William F. Buckley died last year and Barry Goldwater died in 1998. Now, we have Karl Rove, Sarah Palin and Rush LImburgercheese. It was the embrace of social conservative issues that drove the intelligent people out of the Republican party. I hope they come back some day, because our country can use balance in its affairs.

MyName 8 years, 7 months ago


Again, Obama can only long for the leadership skills of Hitler.

And you have no sense of irony if you're making a comment like that after experiencing the awesome leadership and speechin' skillz that embodied the George W. Bush administration?

Pot, meet Kettle.

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

Did Tom just suggest that blacks and hispanics aren't "intelligent people"?

Why the Republican party won't let him be their speech writer is beyond me!

Sure Tom, if you want to believe that people now wish they had voted for John McCain and Sarah "I Quit" Palin over Obama, then believe away. Some people also believe in the Tooth Fairy.

Boosh 8 years, 7 months ago

Yay, keep stickin' it to the MAN. Rock the establshment! As Mr. Stewart also said, Repubs are the new liberals. Heeheehee

TheYetiSpeaks 8 years, 7 months ago

Seriously, I need Mr. Darin Wade to come back and explain that 2:09pm post because I am not going to sleep tonight if I cannot figure that out. I have all but hired Navajo windtalkers to help me break the code.....Nothin'

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

Yeti, you've seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark," haven't you? I think Mr. Wade is saying that Hitler and Moses are the same because they both have a connection to the Ark of the Covenant.

RoeDapple 8 years, 7 months ago

beatrice (Anonymous) says…

“Once upon a time, there were reasonable, intelligent Republicans who could make both civilized and coherent arguments for conservative policies.”

'Yes, but William F. Buckley died last year and Barry Goldwater died in 1998. Now, we have Karl Rove, Sarah Palin and Rush LImburgercheese.'

Sorry bea, but those three do not represent my values.

Even though Sarah is ...............



MyName 8 years, 7 months ago

See the problem is, you'd first have to get him to explain exactly what concoction he's been taking and in which order. You then would have to get him to talk about which particular odd-ball global conspiracy theory he was reading about when he took the concoction.

It might take all day Yeti.

MyName 8 years, 7 months ago


I think Nancy_boy is saying that the blacks and hispanics that still support President Obama are unintelligent. But I'm sure Clarence Thomas, Alberto Gonzales, and those "black friends" that I'm sure Tom will bring up to defend his stupidity are not included among the "unintelligent".

RoeDapple 8 years, 7 months ago


Sure know how to mess up a fantasy, bea!


beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

Oops, sorry RoeD. Did I say Peggy Hill? I really meant she looked like Tina Fey, but, you know, if Tina Fey looked a lot more like Raquel Welch.

Is that better?

(I don't want to be blamed for completely messing up a man's fantasy life!)

Sevin 8 years, 7 months ago

Six million? Closer to twelve million died in Nazi death camps, Mr. Pitts. Never forget. If you think only Jews died in the death camps, then you won't see the next fascist regime coming. No, the American Nazi's are confused and are calling the American Communists, Nazi's. Either totalitarain group begins by slandering its critics, dehumanizing them then getting rid of them. At first secretly, then it becomes "policy". Even treason becomes reasonable, when the spy happens to be married to someone who opposes the "fearless" leader.

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

nobody knows how many people died in the extermination camps, but the agreed estimate is 6 million. 12 million is closer to the total number of deaths during ww2 in europe only...but again, it is unclear how many died under the crushing force of the red occupation in the baltics and everywhere else west of moscow. many towns were wiped out by Stalin, so nobody even knows how many disappeared, since no family members were left to question where their family went...kinda like the kymer rouge in cambodia...rawanda....etc.

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago


I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that "allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination." (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing — which is fundamental to Obamacare goals — "the complete lives system." You see, at 65 or older, you've had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks.

No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs.

This end-of-life consultation has been stripped from the Senate Finance Committee bill because of democracy-in-action town-hall outcries but remains in three House bills.

A specific end-of-life proposal is in draft Section 1233 of H.R. 3200, a House Democratic health care bill that is echoed in two others that also call for versions of "advance care planning consultation" every five years — or sooner if the patient is diagnosed with a progressive or terminal illness.


BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago


As the Washington Post's Charles Lane penetratingly explains (Undue influence," Aug. 8): the government would pay doctors to discuss with Medicare patients explanations of "living wills and durable powers of attorney … and (provide) a list of national and state-specific resources to assist consumers and their families" on making advance-care planning (read end-of-life) decisions.

Significantly, Lane adds that, "The doctor 'shall' (that's an order) explain that Medicare pays for hospice care (hint, hint)."

But the Obama administration claims these fateful consultations are "purely voluntary." In response, Lane — who learned a lot about reading between the lines while the Washington Post's Supreme Court reporter — advises us:

"To me, 'purely voluntary' means 'not unless the patient requests one.'"

But Obamas' doctors will initiate these chats. "Patients," notes Lane, "may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority."

And who will these doctors be? What criteria will such Obama advisers as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel set for conductors of end-of-life services?

I was alerted to Lanes' crucial cautionary advice — for those of use who may be influenced to attend the Obamacare twilight consultations — by Wesley J. Smith, a continually invaluable reporter and analyst of, as he calls his most recent book, the "Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America" (Encounter Books).

As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar. It is thus essential, as just one example, that any end-of-life counseling provision in the final bill be specified to be purely voluntary … and that the counseling be required by law to be neutral as to outcome. Otherwise, even if the legislation doesn't push in a specific direction — for instance, THE GOVERNMENT REFUSING TREATMENT — the regulations could." (Emphasis added.)


BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago


Who'll let us know what's really being decided about our lives — and what is set into law? To begin with, Charles Lane, Wesley Smith and others whom I'll cite and add to as this chilling climax of the Obama presidency comes closer.

Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as "un-American," Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.

I wonder whether Obama would be so willing to promote such health care initiatives if, say, it were 60 years from now, when his children will — as some of the current bills seem to imply — have lived their fill of life years, and the health care resources will then be going to the younger Americans?

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

Your doctor can suggest a lot of things to you that you don't actually do. I interpret this as doctors should inform their patients of their right to have such a consultation. There are a number of people who have never heard of a living will or a durable power of attorney The more money you have the better health care you get get. It has always been that way.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 7 months ago

Shewmon, look it up yourself if you do not believe me.

The GOP are on the path to a 20% permanent minority. They have the uneducated, lower middle class, populist, white southern male vote locked up. Lock, stock and barrel.

Having said that, the GOP are very good obstructionists and skilled at the use of demagoguery and fear. The GOP will become a permanent minority party of "no".

I think many in the GOP would be happy with this role, as actual governance requires skill and moderation, which they desperately lack.

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago

That's b.s. porch person. Open your mind! You've clearly bought into the democrats propaganda.

jonas_opines 8 years, 7 months ago

Yes, tell us, BigPrune, about buying into propaganda.

David Lignell 8 years, 7 months ago

"When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."

  • Reverend Martin Niemoeller

Please don't pollute this horror by stoking current political differences. Obama, like Bush, is not Hitler. Both are good men with different political views. If there is anything to agree on, it's that given the hate we still have in our country we're only a skin's layer away from a barbarous act against our better values.

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