Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Holocaust Too Far

I've often said that extremists on both sides of the spectrum have more in common than they do with their more moderate affiliates on either side.  And I see a touch of that now, regarding Congressman Grayson's attack on the Republican healthcare plan as being "Don't Get Sick." 

And I agree with his message and wish we had more Congressmen like Grayson.  While I definitely don't want to see President Obama using this sort of rhetoric, this is the exact sort of thing the House of Reps was made for.  And best of all, rather than fall for the phony outrage by those who thought they had a monopoly on strong rhetoric, he keeps dishing out more.

But he made one mistake: He evoked Hitler.  Why?  After all the stupid Hitler moustaches on Obama and Nazi comparisons, why would anyone think it's ok to bring up the Holocaust in this debate? 

And for posterity's sake, here's the line:
I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't acted sooner to end this Holocaust in America.
It's a nice line, but I really don't see how we can continue to attack conservatives who use this sort of rhetoric if we defend it on our own side. 

Rationalizing Nazi Attacks

And it's obvious that liberals know better.  I mean, they criticize the hell out of Republicans when they do it.  Yet when I said at Carpetbaggers that Grayson shouldn't have used the word "holocaust," it was suggested that my comment might be "contributing to a holocaust of our own making," while another commenter suggested that because I didn't like Grayson's use of this one word, my family might die for lack of healthcare.  Yeah, I think this rhetoric might be getting a touch out of hand.

And sure, the word meant something before the Holocaust happened.  And many of these folks are trying to hang their hat on that argument.  One person actually wrote "Sadly, "holocaust" is reserved for the jews, in the popular mind..."  Yes, how unfortunate that those damn Jews stole a perfectly fine word for their own purposes.  But, as Wikipedia kindly points out, the term often referred to the slaughter of Jews before the Nazis did it to them.  And originally, it was a burnt sacrifice. 

But who are they kidding?  Grayson meant it in the Nazi sense.  This isn't an unfortunate confusion, like the dumb schlubs who used the word "niggardly" around the wrong people.  Grayson was purposefully evoking the intentional extermination of up to seventeen million people and comparing it with the Republican's corrupt negligence towards those unfortunate enough to not have insurance.  And while that's a horrible thing, it ain't Hitler horrible.

Oh, and a late entry to this game insists that Grayson's usage was only meant to mock pro-lifers who use similar language, and he wasn't making a Nazi reference at all.  In this view, Grayson was using the holocaust as a "dog whistle" which he was blowing in Republican ears, and we're supposed to all know that he wasn't really making a Nazi comparison because of one phrase he said a few sentences earlier, as well as the fact that everyone knows they use that phrase alot.  And no, I don't really see how evoking the Holocaust as a form of mockery is any better than the original idea.

Extremists Think Alike

And check out these comparisons:

Liberal commenter:
So Grayson should not have used the word "holocaust." Instead, he should have referred to "The Republican's Final Solution to the Health Care Crisis."
 Conservative speaker:
“Adolf Hitler issued six million end of life orders–he called his program the final solution. I kind of wonder what we’re going to call ours.”
And note, the liberal actually referred to it as "The Final Solution," while the conservative merely ponders the idea.  I wonder how many of these libs jumped up to defend this guy, as opposed to the number who denounced him for his vicious rhetoric.  Because, to be clear, evoking the Holocaust against your opponent is not only a cheap smear of your opponent; it's also a cheap smear of the Holocaust.  That's why it's considered off-limits.

The Upside to Grayson's Holocaust

Of course, one big plus to this is that the rest of Graysn's two speeches were really good and his Holocaust line is going to make it so that more people hear the rest of what he said.  So you end up with Fox News which was stupid enough to include the picture on the right.  Wow.  They normally don't make that sort of blunder.  Yet, this picture's just about as good as Grayson's whole speech.

And then you get RedState, which is completely confused as to how to respond to the whole thing, with Erick Erickson writing:
The holocaust was real with a real meaning. Roping it into the health care debate cheapens what it was all about.
He then goes on to write that it's "ironic" for Grayson to have made this attack, as Grayson supports a plan which "would compel people into terminating their elderly relatives’ lives."  In other words, Erickson was stunned by all this because he thought that only his side got to make the holocaust connection. 

And in that regard, even the holocaust line wasn't so bad.  But overall, I think we just need to discourage this sort of talk, no matter who it comes from.  Yes, Grayson's two speeches were great and I certainly hope more Dems copy his lead, but all the same, the holocaust needs to be saved for something bigger than lack of insurance.  Until Republicans try to pass a plan which involves Health Chambers which are solely intended to exterminate millions of people, while turning even more millions into sub-human slaves, it ain't a holocaust.


JSF said...

Dr. Biobrain,

We probably agree on little if any polcies.

But I do agree with you that Nazi/Hitler/Holocaust refrences should be verbotan.

Tell your friends at Washinton Monthly (where I read your defense), that we on the Right would not be uising these refrences on Obama and the democrats if they hadn't used it so freely on us.

The best rules of engagement were written by Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-MA) in his book, All Politics is Local.

If you folks on the Left get that way again, you'll find folks on my side ready to make deals.

So again, thanks.

Doctor Biobrain said...

"...we on the Right would not be uising these refrences on Obama and the democrats if they hadn't used it so freely on us."

I definitely can't agree with that. First off, that's exactly what these libs are saying, ie, they're just returning fire because conservatives started it. And while the Bush=Hitler thing clearly came before the Obama=Hitler thing, there's always some fight that preceded it which the other side insists is the reason they're being so ruthless. Overall, they're just looking to rationalize their smears by saying the other side started it first. Typical juvenile behavior. And the adult knows that neither side is right and to ignore the smears.

And beyond the obvious reason for not engaging in this sort of behavior (common decency), these attacks never convince anyone of anything and generally make whoever's saying it look worse. That's why I kept trying (in futility) to stop the Bush=Hitler thing. It might make you feel better, but it seriously damages your credibility. That's why I support the Obama=Hitler stuff. No reasonable person would ever make that connection, and it only makes the people who say it look unreasonable.

As for what "we on the right" do, I spent too much time arguing with conservatives on Usenet during the 90's to believe that this has anything to do with what people said of Bush. Clinton was a murderer. Clinton was a Soviet spy. Clinton raped women. These days, nobody would be foolish enough to suggest this stuff, but back in the day, these were all hard facts which explained why Clinton needed to be impeached. And during the Bush years, many libs thought it was payback time and that we were fools if we didn't treat Bush like they treated Clinton.

Meanwhile, I remained consistent the whole time. But that's just because I play to win and these arguments are for losers. No one has ever won a debate by calling their opponent Hitler.

But anyway, it's good to see someone on the right saying the same thing. These days, it's not Right v. Left; it's Sane v. Insane, and too often, I feel like we're losing.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to know where this Grayson guy has been hiding until now. He was sworn in last January (1st termer) - has he been hiding under a desk until now?

I also recommend a look at his biography. It's quite impressive and everything he has in life, he worked hard for.

In fact, he's the polar opposite of the hereditary aristocracy on the right which claims to be the champion of Horatio Alger.

Broadsnark said...

Ah. Grayson's got a bit of the Bronx in him. That explains quite a lot.

I personally don't get my panties in a bunch over the use of the word holocaust. It isn't exactly comparable to picturing a president as Hitler. There has only been one Hitler.

The word holocaust has a meaning and there have been many holocausts in history (trans-atlantic slave trade, indigenous genocides all over...) It didn't bother me when Grayson said it. It doesn't bother me when pro-life people say it.

And I grew up Jewish and had family who died in camps.

My b-friend agrees with you though. Says it's like how nobody can ever wear a Hitler mustache ever again.