May 4, 2010
When Jews on the Left See Americans on the Right as Nazis
“There should be absolutely no division when it comes to condemning the use of the Holocaust and Holocaust imagery for domestic political purposes.”
It is becoming increasingly common for Jews on the Left to depict Americans on the Right as Nazis and to compare conservative policies to the Holocaust.
Here are a few examples:
Liberal Jewish columnist Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote recently that Tea Partiers had engaged in a “small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.” The November 1938 Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”), with its murdered Jews, broken and vandalized Jewish businesses and homes, and burned-down synagogues, is widely considered to be the opening act of the Holocaust.
This past September, another Jewish liberal, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), referring to Congress not having passed health care legislation, said on the floor of Congress: “I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.” In Grayson’s view, 12 percent of Americans not having health insurance constitutes a “holocaust.”
Another liberal Jewish commentator for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse, likened the situation of illegal immigrants in Arizona to that of the Jews of Nazi-occupied Denmark. As if being deported to Mexico for illegally entering Arizona is comparable to being sent to Auschwitz for being a Danish Jew.
In the same vein, liberal Jewish Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said that the Arizona anti-immigration law is “akin to Nazi Germany.”
The liberal Jewish columnist of the Boston Globe, Ellen Goodman, now retired, wrote: “Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers.” If Holocaust-deniers are on the same moral and truth-telling level as global warming deniers, then denying the Holocaust is neither evil nor a lie.
Another Jew on the Left, George Soros, said at the Davos conference in 2007, “America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany. We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process.” As Martin Peretz wrote at the time in The New Republic: “He [Soros] believes that the United States is now a Nazi country. Why else would we have to go through a ‘certain de-Nazification process’? I defy anybody to interpret the remark differently.”
And referring to the new Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live” asked, “Could we all agree that there’s nothing more Nazi than saying, ‘Show me your papers?’ ” As it happens, there are quite a few things that are “more Nazi” than being asked in Arizona in 2010 to show one’s identification. How about having your children gassed? Or watching your naked parents forced to dig their graves, shot and buried alive? Or having every single one of your friends and relatives murdered? Or being tortured to death in one of the Nazi concentration camps? The equation of being asked for one’s ID to prove one is in America legally with what the Nazis did to the Jews mocks what the Nazis did to the Jews.
And it is a non sequitur to counter that, for example, some posters at Tea Parties compared President Obama to Hitler (posters that are as morally reprehensible as they are self-destructive). First, my examples were all prominent liberals making the Nazi-conservative equation. There are virtually no equivalently prominent conservative examples. What equally prominent conservative columnists described liberals as Nazis the way Frank Rich and Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times described conservatives? What Republican congressmen have cheapened the “Holocaust” the way Anthony Weiner and Alan Grayson have?
Second, when comparisons of those on the Left to Hitler are made, as in the case of Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, they are always to Hitler’s economic policies — to National Socialism. This is not a defense of these ill-advised comparisons. But if truth matters, it is important to point out that, unlike the liberal comparisons of conservatives to Nazi racism and violence, the conservative comparisons are to Hitler’s takeover of the German economy and state.
So, then, why do Jews on the Left belittle the Holocaust by often calling fellow Americans who are conservative “Nazis” and comparing their policies to the Holocaust?
The answers lie in the rhetoric of the Left and in Jews’ fears.
Leftist rhetoric routinely depicts opponents of the Left as bad human beings. Opponents of race-based affirmative action are racists. Opponents of same-sex marriage are homophobes. Opponents of illegal immigration are xenophobes, racists and engaged in Nazism (that is the word Cardinal Roger Mahoney used to describe Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law). And so on.
But there is an additional explanation for why liberal and Leftist Jews use “Nazi” and “Holocaust” rhetoric to depict conservatives.
Jews, Right or Left, have been seared by the Holocaust. And most, if not all, Jews believe a Holocaust could happen again — hardly an idiosyncratic belief given Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declared aim of annihilating the Jewish state.
Where liberal and conservative Jews differ is where each group thinks the greatest danger to the Jews lies. Jews on the Left are certain that the greatest threats to Jews come from the Right. Conservative and centrist Jews believe that dangers to the Jews can come from the Left, from the Right, from Islam, from a renewal of Christian anti-Semitism, indeed from anywhere, but that at this moment the world’s Left is far more an enemy of the Jewish people than the world’s, not to mention America’s, Right.
Finally, what Jews who compare conservatives to Nazis do is provide moral cover for non-Jews to do the same. If Frank Rich writes that the Tea Parties had a Kristallnacht, why should a non-Jew who hates conservatives not say the same thing?
But the consequence is that more and more people will come to think of the Night of Broken Glass in 1938 as no worse than a Tea Party rally and deportations of Jews to Auschwitz as no worse than deporting an illegal immigrant back to his home in Mexico.
If the ADL is serious about condemning misuse of the Holocaust, it should send public letters to Jews who do it. And the Jews who do it happen to all be on the Left.