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March 11, 2005

Forward: “GOP Suffers From Amnesia” on Use of Nazi Rhetoric

Listed in: GOP Hypocrisies

GOP representatives have strived to raise a furor over one Democrat's recent statements. Why? To deflect attention from the widespread GOP habit of invoking inappropriate Holocaust rhetoric and Nazi imagery.

As today's Forward reports, what is truly "offensive" is "the sanctimonious and frenzied response of GOP officials and activists who have ignored or downplayed even more egregious Nazi comparisons emanating from their own ranks." The Forward adds that "a slew of prominent Republican lawmakers have employed Nazi comparisons in recent years to bash a variety of Democratic positions, including support for tax hikes, abortion rights and stem-cell research. These attacks failed to draw condemnations from the GOP officials lately leading the charge" against a lone Democrat.

The Forward notes that in addition to other top Republicans, "[Pennsylvania Senator Rick] Santorum displayed similar levels of outrage, a stark contrast with their past silence in the face of Republicans directly tagging Democrats as Nazis."

Santorum ranks third in the GOP Senate leadership, and he's often mentioned as a presidential hopeful. Yet he has the chutzpah to hypocritically look the other way as leaders throughout his party shamefully invoke Holocaust rhetoric (see examples, below). The time has come for the GOP to stop avoiding responsibility for its continuing problem with Holocaust rhetoric!

Tell Senator Santorum what you think of his double standard. Write to him and tell him -- enough is enough with the GOP habit of invoking Holocaust and Nazi imagery. Click here to send Santorum an e-mail; send him a fax at (202) 228-0604; write to him at 511 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510-3804; or call him at (202) 224-6324.

The NJDC has documented such highly offensive statements regularly in recent years -- yet where is the GOP outrage in all of these cases? Where was their indignation when White House insider Grover Norquist compared the estate tax to the Holocaust? When a Republican Senator described Democratic tax plans as "right out of Nazi Germany?"

Below, please find NJDC's Top Ten list of recent abuses of Holocaust and Nazi rhetoric by top GOP and conservative leaders.

1. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), October 11, 2004

Speaking in opposition to stem cell research: "We certainly have all seen the rejections of Nazi Germany's abuses of science. As a society and a nation, there ought to be some limit on what we can allow or should allow."

2. Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), March 3, 2004

Under the headline "Cole Claims a Vote Against Bush Is a Vote For Hitler," KTOK News Radio in Oklahoma City reported on its Internet site on March 2 that "Republican Congressman Tom Cole claims a vote against the re-election of President Bush is like supporting Adolph Hitler during World War Two. It's what he said recently before a meeting of Canadian County Republicans."

3. Representative Peter King (R-NY), September 8, 2004

Speaking in opposition to a legal ruling on abortion: "That, Mr. Speaker, is a modern-day equivalent of the Nazi prison guard saying 'I was just following orders.' It was all legal in Nazi Germany at the time."

4. Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), September 5, 2002

Speaking in opposition to a Democratic tax plan: "Now, forgive me, but that is right out of Nazi Germany. I don't understand ... why all of a sudden we are passing laws that sound as if they are right out of Nazi Germany."

5. White House Insider Grover Norquist, October 2, 2003

As Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen first noted in his January 6 column, "extremely influential GOP activist and White House insider Grover Norquist... compared the estate tax to the Holocaust" during an October interview on National Public Radio. Norquist -- perhaps the most important non-elected leader of the conservative movement today -- had originally stated on NPR on October 2, 2003, "The argument that some who play to the politics of hate and envy and class division will say is, 'Well, that's only 2 percent -- or, as people get richer, 5 percent, in the near future -- of Americans likely to have to pay [the estate tax].' I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust: 'Oh, it's only a small percentage. It's not you; it's somebody else.'"

After some had taken note of Norquist's completely unacceptable and quite purposeful rhetoric, a January 23rd article in the Forward gave Norquist a chance to retract his statements. Instead, he asserted that his original statements were "entirely reasonable," and he added a new wrinkle -- a comparison of Democrats to Nazis. The Forward article quotes Norquist as saying, "The Nazis were for gun control, the Nazis were for high marginal tax rates.... Do you want to talk about who's closer politically to national socialism, the Right or the Left?" Moreover, Norquist "told the Forward that he would not hesitate to use Holocaust comparisons in the future."

6. Bush-Cheney 2004, July, 2004

The Forward reported that "President Bush's re-election campaign is refusing to withdraw an ad containing Nazi imagery from its Web site, despite severe criticism from Jewish organizations and from the Republican chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council."

7. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), October 11, 2004

While speaking on the Kyoto Protocol, an international global warming treaty, Inhofe quoted a Russian official who said the treaty "would deal a powerful blow on the whole humanity similar to the one humanity experienced when Nazism and communism flourished." In reference to the protocol, Inhofe added, in his own voice, "The world has certainly turned on its head that we Americans must look to Russians for speaking out strongly against irrational authoritarian ideologies."

8. Conservative columnist Ralph Peters, January 5, 2004

The Anti-Defamation League has taken note of what they described as "A column in the New York Post by Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer, which made repeated references to Nazis, the Gestapo and 'Hitler's Brownshirts' to describe the strategies of Democratic presidential hopeful Dr. Howard Dean and his campaign." ADL National Director Abraham Foxman wrote in a letter to the editor of the New York Post on January 6, "Such loathsome comparisons are wholly inappropriate, deeply offensive and repugnant. Surely, Mr. Peters could have found some other words to criticize Dr. Dean without reaching for base comparisons to the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Using such images demeans the Holocaust and the memory of the six million and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.'"

9. Dr. Laura Schlessinger, January 2, 2004

Controversial radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger compared professional day-care practices in America today to such practices in Nazi Germany. According to the Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Dr. Laura "read a letter from a listener who criticized the lack of one-on-one attention given to children in some day care centers, especially those calling themselves 'Child Development Centers.' Dr. Schlessinger commented that 'it sounds like something out of Nazi Germany.'"

10. Mississippi Governor and Former GOP Chair Haley Barbour, October, 2003

On October 15th, 2003, the home page of the Internet site for the infamous Council of Conservative Citizens featured a photograph of former Republican Party chairman and current Mississippi governor Haley Barbour at a barbeque "sponsored by the Council of Conservative Citizens to raise money for private academy school buses," according to the site. The same page of the Internet site elaborates on the views of the Council of Conservative Citizens, including an image encouraging viewers to work to "Free Zundel," referring to notorious Holocaust denier and Hitler defender Ernst Zundel. Barbour has refused to distance himself from his association with the CCC.