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So, How Many Jews Have YOU Killed Today?
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Forty-Nine
by Brian S. Wise
16 January 2004

Tired of the president, and conservatives in general, being referred to as Nazis?  Me too, and something finally has to be said.

Someone please explain: Is President Bush actually Hitler, or are the president, Vice President Cheney, Stud Rumsfeld the First, Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft and Paul Wolfowitz Nazis in the same camp (as it were), or is it that all conservatives are Nazis by nature of a far flung ideological connection to Goldwater and Buckley?  Could it be, now stay with me, could it be that the Bush administration represents the upper echelon of the new Nazism and the rest of us are simply SS?  Because, see, I’ve been checking the mail, naturally looking for my Death’s Head, and have become concerned it hasn’t arrived.  (The disconcerting thing is that now someone, somewhere, will take it upon themselves to break away from the text in order to fire off an electronic mail explaining just who is and who isn’t a Nazi in the Republican party, and why.  Save it, stupid.)

At issue here, recent comparisons between the president and Hitler, the administration and Nazism, the World Trade Center collapse and the Reichstag fire, et cetera.  Interesting that the same people who would call for the public execution of any white man who used the word “nigger” think nothing of tossing “Nazi” around as though it were a casual insult, like the ones jokingly thrown between best friends in seventh grade.  Either words have meaning or they don’t; MoveOn.org posted – and, to its credit, quickly removed – two user-produced political ads flatly comparing the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler, but never thought enough to say, “Look, obviously Bush is not Hitler, so stop it,” only that it didn’t “support the sentiment” behind the ads.
Meanwhile, MoveOn has encouraged its readers to send protests to the Fox News Channel, demanding Liz Trotta’s firing for saying, on The O’Reilly Factor, that the website has ties to the World Socialist Movement.  So what are we saying, that being accused of having socialist connections is damn near actionable, but comparing a sitting president with the man who set into motion a device that killed six million Jews is reasonable?

Last September, just before the second anniversary of the Tragedies, someone forwarded along a picture of a poster hanging in outdoor advertising somewhere. (Canada?  Not sure.)  On the left side of the picture is Hitler, over his left shoulder is the Reichstag, in flames, and the caption “February 27, 1933 / Berlin Reichstag Fire.”  To the right is George W. Bush, over his right shoulder is the World Trade Center, in flames, and the caption “September 11, 2001 / WTC / Pentagon Attacks.”  Asks the text: “On September 11 / Ask Yourself / When History Repeats … / Do We Notice?”

At the time I was unsure just how prevalent a comparison this was, and wouldn’t have believed it besides.  Surely no rational mind would compare the Reichstag fire to the Tragedies; Nazi storm troopers set the Reichstag on fire.  It was part of Hitler’s plan to further Nazi control by means of winning elections, in the process superseding Hindenburg’s authority as president.  The next morning, Hitler demanded and received from the cabinet a decree to end “the crisis,” which Hindenburg signed.  It read, in part, there were to follow restrictions “on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”

Whereas President Bush, in the first place, didn’t plan the Tragedies and, in the second place, didn’t undertake a series of movements that will put an end to the checks and balances inherent in American government.  What followed instead was the Patriot Act, a combination of good law and bad law, the final product nevertheless coming nowhere near totalitarianism.
“Nazi” isn’t, and shouldn’t be thought of as, acceptable political dissent.  To put a reconstructed Nazism on President Bush’s shoulders forces onto his name the specter of unthinkable atrocities; the president has had some very bad ideas – goddammit George, Mars?! – but none of them involved gassing al-Qaeda.  Given even that Guantanamo Bay is inconvenient for its residents – despite “religiously appropriate” meals, a Koran for each prisoner, a mat on which to pray and notice of when to do so, in accordance with their religion – Guantanamo has no Zyklon B anywhere on the premises.  Not even near the showers.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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