Stop Comparing Political Rivals to Nazis

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Stop Comparing Political Rivals to Nazis
Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP
Stop Comparing Political Rivals to Nazis
Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP
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In fits of hyperbolic condemnation for President Trump and the America First movement, political and media leftists continue to escalate their rhetoric and now reach almost casually for comparisons to Hitler and his evil Nazi regime.  Such obscene references poison our public dialogue, demean the horror suffered by Holocaust victims, and betray the heroism of our American military veterans. 

On Thursday, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke appeared at a campaign event in Carroll, Iowa and castigated President Trump’s tough talk on illegal border crossings as reminiscent of the “Third Reich.”  O’Rourke told the story of a visit to an elementary school where a “third grade girl, who was handing us the hand-drawn Valentines, who happens to be Mexican American, says: ‘Why does the president not like me?’” Quite frankly, I find O’Rourke’s setup difficult to accept, as it conveniently fits the popular but dubious narrative of the “woke 8 year old.” Even more suspiciously, it almost precisely replicates the story Playboy’s White House correspondent, Brian Karem, tweeted: that a “young Hispanic boy” on the Washington subway “saw my press pass and asked me ‘why does the president hate me?’”

But regardless of the veracity of these accounts, O’Rourke leapt at the opportunity to compare Trump to Nazis.  He told the audience that the president “went on to call asylum seekers animals. … Now, we would not be surprised if in the Third Reich other human beings were described as an infestation, as a cockroach, or a pest you would want to kill.”

First, President Trump did not, at all, call asylum seekers “animals,” but rather very clearly directed that descriptor toward violent MS-13 gang assailants. Trump opponents have lied about these “animal” comments almost as often as they have propagated the totally discredited Charlottesville hoax, the myth that he called neo-Nazi supremacists “fine people.”  

The extremist O’Rourke clearly disagrees vehemently with Trump on U.S. border sovereignty, even arguing to tear down already existing barricades. While his open-borders fantasies represent awful policy, he at least displays honesty in publicly staking out his highly unpopular view.  But he also delves into demonization, comparing Trump and border enforcement to the most evil regime of modern history, one that systemically slaughtered millions of people.

Sadly, O’Rourke finds much company in this ugly pattern of Nazi analogizing among Trump critics.  For example, former CIA Director Michael Hayden tweeted out a picture of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with the text “other governments have separated mothers and children.”  MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch expanded the condemnation, not only impugning Trump and our Homeland Security agents, but also the 63 million Americans who voted for the president.  Deutsch admonished “Morning Joe” viewers that “if you vote for Trump, then you the voter -- you, not Trump -- are standing at the border like Nazis.” 

It is really beneath decency to debate these accusations on their substance, though I will point out that Trump, ironically, is the closest America has ever come to a Jewish president.  No national political leader in our country deserves such ignorant insults, and certainly not a man who shares Shabbat with his own grandchildren and was told by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that “Israel has never had a better friend than you.”

Even more importantly, cavalier comparisons like O’Rourke’s denigrate the ghastly sufferings of the millions massacred by Hitler and his henchmen.  Throwing around Nazi references to disparage rivals over policy prescriptions cheapens the sacredness of the true horrors of the Shoah.  Edna Friedberg, a historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, decried that politicians and media figures “casually use Holocaust terminology to bash anyone or any policy with which they disagree.”  

Moreover, such vile analogies disrespect the honor of America’s veterans who led the alliance that toppled the wicked Nazi menace.  Hundreds of thousands of young Americans perished across an ocean to dismantle fascism.  American military cemeteries dot that continent today, and remind us of the price our country paid to smash oppression.  There’s truth in the aphorism that “politics ain’t bean-bag,” and we should all welcome a vigorous debate on controversial ideas such as illegal immigration.  But we should also all agree to refrain from comparing political rivals to the worst murderous monsters in history.

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.



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