In the name of winning elections, political rhetoric exploits horrors of the past – and at times distorts the ideas that made those horrors possible to fit the narrative. For years, the Republican Party has tried, and succeeded, in brainwashing their base to believe that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are Nazis.
That’s what makes it possible for the Tea Party to persuade some people that Nazism is the secret belief system of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
If only this was about people using words they don’t understand. In reality they do understand them, and espouse things that are, at minimum, similar to that of Nazi ideology which believes in the superiority of one group of people and individual deference to the power of the state as envisioned by the ideology.
In the name of all things Tea Party, right wing pundits, media and increasingly the “mainstream” media is parroting the notion that was once a spade is now a spoon and what was a spoon is now a spade.
Elie Wiesel knows more about Nazism and the Holocaust than one can learn from a book because he experienced and survived it. He experienced and survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald. And he knows what “values” make it possible for a government to establish concentration camps and work people to death. He understands what can arise from dehumanizing people for who they are or taking all the good things they do as human beings and labeling it a threat to an ideological ideal.
Wiesel also knows that contrary to today’s Republican rhetoric, tolerance and acceptance of diversity are neither Nazi principles nor are they a threat to national security.
He knows because despite the Nazis concerted effort to rid the world of him, Wiesel survived.
He went on to establish the Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, with the objective of promoting something today’s Republicans equate with evil: tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Back in 2009, when the Republican brainwashing machine touted claims that Obama and the Democratic Party are Nazis, this is what this extraordinary human being who survived everything the real Nazis dished out said in a tweet.
Image via Think Progress.
If anyone has a right to pronounce on what is Nazi and what is not, it is someone who lived through the horrors of what happens when a political leader or party tries to equate hate with freedom or in the Republican Party’s case, religion.
One can argue not every Republican agrees with Ted Nugent’s latest racist description of the President of the United States. One can claim that not every Republican believes our environmental policies or policies on women’s reproductive rights should be based on Nazi “science.”
The problem is there aren’t very many (if any) Republican voices condemning Nugent, his sentiments, or less high profile people who express similar sentiments in misspelled signs. Nor are there many (if any) voices condemning ideas espoused by Republicans that are based on Nazi “science.” Just as there aren’t many Republican voices condemning Arizona’s “law” codifying discrimination against the LGBT community. Some may claim they had really harsh words for that law behind the scenes, but in public they remain silent in the name of not wanting to offend someone. The last people on the planet we should worry about offending are those who would take offense at the idea of condemning on its face a law seeking to dehumanize other human beings.
That would be like worrying about Nazis, who themselves dehumanized their own list of “undesirables,” including Jews, Slavs, the Roma People, Gays, people with disabilities, and anyone who questioned any aspect of Nazi “doctrine”.
Over the past several years, adjectives like “conservative” and “libertarian” have been used to describe a political belief system that has a list of human beings it considers less than human. It’s an ideology that asserts, based on Nazi “science” that victims of “legitimate” rape can’t get pregnant because their bodies have magic powers to shut that whole thing down. Or who argue that the earth makes new oil every day because the Nazi “science” said so.
I refuse to play that game of downplaying these extreme and repugnant ideas by describing them as “conservative” or “libertarian.” They are neither of those things. Those ideas and the people behind them are, at the very least, sympathetic to the sort of ideals espoused by the Nazis and similar ideologues on the far right of the ideological spectrum. A spade is a spade. A spoon is a spoon. A Nazi sympathizer is a Nazi sympathizer.