I once worked with a newspaper intern on a story about a new cancer treatment. Her lead was something like this: Like Hitler’s army marching across Europe, cancer spreads through the body.
Lesson one: Don’t use Hitler in a story unless you’re really talking about Hitler. Or as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, it’s not a good idea to use Hitler as a metaphor, which is what some of the people opposing health reform are doing. She offered a few examples.
First was a video clip of a speaker from a “Patients Unite” bus tour in Pueblo, Colorado. He was talking about the “end of life” discussions people like my father, sister and I had with the social workers in the nursing home when we were about to call in hospice.
We had no plans to put our father to sleep. But, the speaker described the process this way. Whenever someone turn 65, they have to meet with a government bureaucrat he called a “federal airhead.”
“Part of this process — called end-of-life counseling — can be an end-of-life order. Adolph Hitler issued 6 million end of life orders. He called it the final solution. I kind of wonder what we are going to call ours.”
Over-the-top madness? Conspiracy theory? Lies?
( To be fair, some conservatives have been critical of the effort to cast health reform as fascism.)
Other examples from the show:
- A photo of teenager at a Denver town meeting wearing a T shirt with a picture of Obama that read “Hitler gave good speeches too.”
- A picket sign at the same event propped up on a tot’s stroller with a big red swastika that read”No to fascism”
- A picket sign at a Michigan event with a campaign poster of Obama –with a Hitler mustache scribbled on his face.
- Sarah Palin’s Facebook message that describes a “death panel” that will deny health care to her parents and Down’s Syndrome baby because they will not be productive members of society.
- And then there is Rush Limbaugh who saysthat Obama’s health reform logo looks like a Nazi symbol.
Not all conservatives endorse this kind of behavior. Columnist Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe writes regularly about leftist “hate speech.” In a December 30, 1997 he wrote “Compare your political opponents to Nazis? No problem — if you’re a liberal.”
Jacoby goes on to criticize a record company exec for writing that warning label on records “would one day serve as a tattooed number on the forearm of the artistic community.” He quotes Michael Moore comparing The Wall Street Journal editorial page to the Nazi propaganda. A Harvard (of course) law professor uses the term “‘a crime against humanity’,” which to JJ says evokes Nuremberg.
The left’s use of the Nazi metaphor and other forms of so-called hate speech is a regular topic in the Jacoby column. See: ” Hate Speech of the Left.” December 28, 2003 ;”Smears, Slanders from the Left,” December 30, 2001.
Finally, some clips of the anti health reform protests, including one in NH that seemed to draw about 40 people. Note 67-year-old Ann from Bedford, who doesn’t like “socialized” health care. (Medicare, which likely covers her bills, is government-run health insurance.)