Holocaust Analogies Continue To Taint Discourse On Wide Range Of Issues

  • August 26, 2015

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.

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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.  

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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.

* As a 501(c )(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

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