The charged political debates over issues ranging from Iran to abortion continue to be tainted by inappropriate invocations of Hitler, Nazis, and general Holocaust imagery.
These misplaced and offensive comparisons, made by politicians, pundits, and other public figures, trivialize this unique tragedy in human history. They not only rely on historically incorrect premises and exaggerations, but also deflect attention away from important national discussions.
For example, U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz recently sent letters to pastors throughout the U.S. to encourage them to speak out against Planned Parenthood, claiming that abortion represents an “ongoing holocaust.” Of course, invoking the Holocaust in the discussions on abortion is nothing new.
The Iran deal is also an area where offensive Holocaust analogies have been increasingly cropping up. On July 26, for example, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated in an interview that President Obama’s policies on Iran will “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Huckabee’s campaign also highlighted this inappropriate comparison in a graphic on Twitter.
The analogies are not only used by politicians. In a sign of how our public discourse has coarsened, critics of public officials also invoke Nazi analogies. When New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler publicly supported the proposed agreement on Iran, he reportedly was swamped with hateful messages on social media. One commentator referred to him as a “kappo,” a reference to Jews who worked for the Nazis in concentration camps.
The Holocaust comparisons are not limited to the political world either. On August 25, ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” analyst and former major league pitcher Curt Schilling shared a post on Twitter that compared extremist Muslims to Nazis. The tweet suggested that a similar percentage of Muslims are extremists as Germans were Nazis. It also included an image of Hitler.
Such inappropriate Holocaust references seem to surface around almost any controversial issue. For example, during the charged political debate over gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, there was a flurry of inappropriate invocations of Hitler, Nazis, and general Holocaust imagery by public figures. Opposition to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act engendered similarly offensive comparisons.
Public discourse today is seriously lacking in civility and respect for different perspectives on important issues. One unfortunate example of this lack of civility is repeated inappropriate references to the Holocaust. It is long past time for public officials and public officials to stop invoking the Holocaust in an effort to score political points.
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