>Conservatives and the misunderstanding of Nazi Germany

>Two weeks ago I had the joy of visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I had the opportunity to see relics, photos and hear the stories of those who lived under–and survived–Nazi rule in Germany. The visit to the museum, which was bittersweet, opened my eyes to the extent in which the Nazi Party and its sympathizers manufactured a campaign of scapegoating and fear of The Other, mainly German and European Jews.

These men of the Third Reich were effective in instilling a society obsessed with racial distinctions and hierarchies, apartheid and the ostracizing of Jews, communists, Marxists, real or imagined political opponents, homosexuals and Gypsies. The Third Reich also seized the powers and freedoms of the common man, woman and child. Any criticism of the Nazi Party and its policies led to the spying, torture or death of opponents.

Fast forward 70 years later, and Americans are being treated to right wing propaganda about President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party being the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Radio and television personalities such as Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz and Bill O’Reilly repeatedly warn their fan boys and girls that their liberties and freedoms are at risk and any day America will be overrun with socialists who want to stamp out capitalism and transform our economy and government into Bolshevik-era socialism.

The beloved Ann Coulter, notorious for her ultraconservative viewpoints and nonsensical rantings, is another self-proclaimed patriot whose routinely tosses around Obama a la Hitler jargon.

Just yesterday, 1/2-term governor Sarah Palin used her social networking account to direct her followers to read an article written by Thomas Sowell that compares Obama to Hitler. In Degeneration of Democracy, Sowell argues American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it” (Source).  

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas proclaimed Sowell and the article as brilliant.

Last month, Newt Gingrich in his new book argues that Obama and the “secular socialist regime” poses a Hitleresque threat to America.

Even bloggers have joined in on the obsession with everything Obama/Hitler/Nazi. The America Vs. Obama blog, last updated in 2008, seems to condemn anything Democratic/liberal/moderate and drools over quitter Sarah Palin and “conservative feminism.”  
Painting black (and female) politicians/activists as out of step with American values and as radical beings is nothing new. Perhaps the greatest example is J. Edgar Hoover’s obsession over Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fear that the civil rights leader was hell bent on promoting communism. Dr. King, his followers and contemporaries were painted as people who posed a threat to our representative democracy and our society. Integration and equal rights were seen as communists ideals that threatened the stability of American life. 

Not to give any conservative reading this blog any misconceptions of my understanding of history, I’m well aware of the Hitler-Bush comparisons done during the previous decade. I’m well aware of the left-of-center activists who stormed city streets and hailed signs of President Bush with the infamous mustache and thick, dark lock of hair. What’s different about the Hitler/Nazi-Bush comparisons of yesterday with the Hitler/Nazi-Obama comparisons of today is we didn’t have Democratic or liberal/moderate politicians making these comparisons of the president. The Democrats in Congress, being the spineless group they are, wouldn’t dare to make such a claim about Bush II during his reign. The Patriot Police, including FOX News and company, would be dispatched to gauge that politician’s allegiance to America. The lack of respect for Obama and the presidency Republican/conservative politicians, figureheads and Tea Party activists continue to show cannot compare to the disorganized anti-war leftists who merely carried signs comparing Bush to Hitler.

As I read these disparaging signs about Obama and hear these hate mongers on the right cry about Obama implementing Hitleresque policies and the government taking away our constitutional rights, I can’t help but to feel that these folks have no understanding of what the Jews and others persecuted went through under Nazi Germany. I can’t help but to feel disgusted that these disenchanted people in American are trivializing the Third Reich, the Nazi Party and the Final Solution that plagued Europe during the 1930s and 1940s and led to World War II. 

Conservative, Christian business owners have yet to have their storefronts labeled with any symbol that reinforces their status in society. Christians have not had their places of worship vandalized and painted with any symbol to show them their place in America. The Republican Party and its representatives in Congress have not been hauled off to concentration camps just because they oppose the president on an ideological basis. 
Conservatives and Christian families who oppose Obama aren’t being rounded up and shipped off to ghettos where they are forced to live in squalor and perform slave labor until they collapse or die of disease, malnutrition or murder.

Survivors of the Holocaust and other forms of Nazi persecution should be (and probably are) outraged at the comparisons. Jews, Gypsies, communists, gays and lesbians and others who lost relatives, friends and co-workers at the hands of Nazi sympathizers have a right to disparage any conservative who in vain refers to Obama’s presidency as one rooted in socialism and Nazi rule. 

For conservatives and Republicans to mock the persecution of Adolf Hitler and the SS is nothing short of a slap in the face to the victims of Nazi rule. For these poor souls to compare their frustrations with being out of power to the daily lives of Jews and others in Germany and across Europe shows the understanding of history by those on the right is just shy of the high school level.

It’s not the so-called Obama-Pelosi-Reid socialist, secular machine that we should fear. It’s not the stripping away of our rights we should fear. It’s not the Muslim, Kenyan Nazi president elected by a majority of people we should fear.

It’s the big, conservative/reactionary Tea Party machine, its ignorance and misinterpretation of history and its gullible followers that pose the greatest risk to our freedoms and liberties and the stability of our society and government.