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NJDC Criticizes Comments of Representative Steve Cohen

NJDC — January 19, 2011 – 2:39 pm | Abusive Holocaust Rhetoric Comments (6) Add a comment

The National Jewish Democratic Council criticizes the comments of Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) which compared Republicans to the Nazis and unfortunately reintroduced the Holocaust into the health care debate. As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable—on either side of the aisle. Cohen’s comments and similar comments made by others are not helpful as our leaders and citizens conduct a joint effort to advance civility in our political discourse. We implore Cohen and all our leaders to choose their words carefully as we move forward.

Even though Cohen is a leading progressive figure, the vast preponderance of abusive Holocaust rhetoric still comes from the right-wing. We hope that if there are future uses of abusive Holocaust rhetoric from either side of the aisle that political leaders will stand up and condemn those statements and reiterate calls for civility.


Rep. Steve Cohen | January 19, 2011 – 6:07 pm

I must disagree with the NJDC about this.  I hope that the entire speech will be viewed, not just the clip taken out of context. On the House floor last night, I was addressing the danger of letting lies stand.  While I did refer to Goebbels’ campaign of lies, I never compared the Republicans to Nazis.  Rather, I warned against the real danger in letting lies stands.  I referred to the non-partisan Pulitzer prize-winning naming as the “2010 Lie of the Year” the Republican assertion that Health Care Reform is a “government takeover of health care.”  I mentioned the repeated—and totally false claim—of death panels in the health care reform law.  I pointed out the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that the GOP Repeal of health care reform will add $230 Billion to deficit while eliminating coverage for 32 Million and that the Republicans summarily dismiss the report.  Instead they named their repeal bill “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” and that is not just disingenuous.  It’s a lie.  Putting dangerous lies in an historical context is not wrong.  We must remember and we must remind our fellow human beings of the very real dangers of letting lies stand.  I’m not willing to let lies stand whether they are told by Jesse Ventura on truTV or by politicians. See  and

Pablo | January 20, 2011 – 3:28 am

Rep. Cohen

You probably should not have used a Nazi allusion period. Just to be on the safe side. Not very civil.


Jean-Pierre Ady Fenyo | January 20, 2011 – 5:32 am

Well; things can get very complicated!

I have read this Statement by David Streeter and the comment right above mine (made by Rep. Steve Cohen, Tenn.). Having carefully examined the clip provided by Rep. Steve Cohen, and given this much thought and consideration here is what I have to state:
I stand somewhere between the NJDC’s well-intended official position on this and the general intent of what was expressed by Rep. Steve Cohen.
Regardless of Rep. Cohen’s best intentions this kind of language only provides both confused Republicans and pseudo-Republicans cover to commit further egregious abuses of language and disrespect to the memory of The Shoah and its causes!
That said; I do think Rep. Cohen could have made his statement truly effective IF he had simply stated the general ideas he tried to convey without specific inference to any Historical record. After all; we really must give our President’s efforts to temper and moderate things a real chance to work.

I have no doubt that there is something very unhealthy going on in American politics, especially on the part of those who seem to have forgotten the true principles and ideals of the original Republican Party! As well as those who let their righteous indignation cloud their better judgment.

There can be no doubt that the BIG LIE method is being implemented without the slightest regard for its overall mid-term and long-term consequences!
I see it in many other forums and places; and mostly implemented by the New Right and people further to the Right.
JP Fenyo, Philosopher

Dan Tomkinson | January 20, 2011 – 12:53 pm

Just because some may find it offensive does not preclude the comparison from factual accuracy. It would behoove such groups to examine Goebbel’s modus operandi and then make the comparison of his methods to the methods of those who repeatedly foisted these lies on the American public and challenge his claims on their merits.

Not on the emotional response to the word Nazi.

Scott Bard | January 20, 2011 – 1:56 pm

I’m Jewish and I’m with Rep Cohen on this.  He did not compare the Reps to Nazis and he never invoked the Holocaust.  It is unfortunate the Reps chose to use the same methods used in the past by the Nazis, but if the comparison is factual, so be it.

Forget about “rhetoric” and “tone”.  If the Republicans would just stop the flagrant lying about anything and everything in service of their goals we’d all be a lot better off.

Sean | January 21, 2011 – 3:58 pm

Rep. Cohen-

  You made a very valid point regarding propaganda, and I hope it was respectfully taken by at least a few, despite your choice of reference.

Unfortunately, any reference to any component of Nazi Germany only serves to muddy the issue by injecting strong emotions where they are unhelpful at best.

Best regards,

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