Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nazi rhetoric

I happened to be flipping channels past Fox News last night and caught a couple of minutes of Sean Hannity's program, in which he and his guests were raking Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee over the coals for having the audacity to call the Republicans' continued repetition of the phrase "government takeover of health care" a "big lie," as in the kind of big lie that Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels liked to repeat.  How dare these Democrats compare Republicans to Nazis!  How outrageous!  "But it is a big lie," I started yelling at the TV. "And the Congressman wasn't calling Republicans Nazis; he was only saying they were using propaganda techniques similar to those used by the Nazis."  I could see that none of Hannity's guests were ever going to deal with the substance of the Congressman's criticism, however, only his reference to Goebbels; so I changed channels in an effort to keep my blood pressure down.

Maybe Hannity & Co. have a point, though.  We should probably just acknowledge that Nazi comparisons are inherently inflammatory.  Maybe it's best never to compare anything anyone does to anything the Nazis ever did.  Nobody listens to you when you do that, so the only thing you accomplish is to rile up your supporters, and give your opponents grounds to ignore the merits of your criticism, and focus on the unfairness of the Nazi comparison.  One would therefore expect that Fox News personalities would never make such comparisons, especially since they were so quick to express outrage at Congressman Cohen's remarks. 

Leave it to Jon Stewart to compile the evidence of Fox's hypocrisy for all to see.  Luckily his staff watches Fox News so the rest of us don't have to:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
24 Hour Nazi Party People
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

I wonder if Megyn Kelly realizes that she looks ridiculous.   I'm also happy to see that Jon Stewart doesn't mind looking ridiculous himself.


  1. Good to see you comment on Cohen.

  2. There is too much Nazi talk on both sides.

  3. I am currently watching the series documentary "Third Reich" on the History Channel. It is hard to watch but it is real and it is history and it has value.

    In my view, any politician who goes to the Nazi comparison has his head burried so far up his rear he loses all credibility. There is no credible reason, not even for propaganda comparisons.

  4. I actually think that Congressman Cohen had a valid point. And it is hard to talk about the theory of the "big lie" without talking about Nazi propagandists, or Soviet propagandists, who mastered the theory of the big lie. The problem is that Cohen's point gets lost as soon as he mentions Nazis, because people deliberately misconstrue what he said and express phony outrage that he compared Republicans to Nazis. Meanwhile those same people feel perfectly free to characterize the left as Nazis or Socialists. So you're both probably right that we should all just stop using the Nazi references.

  5. Both sides tell big lies. I know, I hear them with an open mind. I wonder if I am alone in hearing that both sides do that. I wouldn't say it's fair to say both sides do it but the right does it more. Or both sides do hate speech but the right does it more. That simply identifies one's political position. It is equally offensive equal! Having said that, there is no question, the Nazi references should stop.