“Change” is the big buzzword in the Obama campaign. And it looks like “change” is what we’re going to get. One thing that has ‘changed’ is that it is apparently now unthinkable that Obama be subjected to the same vilification that Bush, Cheney and Republicans have been subjected to for the past seven plus years.
But the Nazis have been invoked in arguments over many other causes. In a speech explaining what “this Kosovo thing is all about,” Bill Clinton once justified his decision to bomb Serbia by asking, “What if someone had listened to Winston Churchill and stood up to Adolf Hitler earlier?” His secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, was also fond of telling reporters that “Munich is my mind-set,” meaning Europe’s decision to appease Hitler at Munich in 1938. In 2006, a British group opposed to national identity cards designed an ad that depicted Tony Blair as Hitler with a bar code in place of a mustache. Last spring, American feminist Naomi Wolf compared Hitler’s brownshirts, the thugs who smashed Jewish shops and murdered old men, with the “[g]roups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers” who “menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000.” On Sunday, Al Gore told college seniors that fighting global warming was comparable to fighting fascism. And, of course, Saddam Hussein has been compared to Hitler many times, by many people, of many different political views.
As she notes, somewhat over evenhandedly, comparisons with Hitler have been made about both Democrats and Republicans.
But she does not go into the ad Hitlerum examples seen at every demonstration since the election of 1992. Protesters routinely display papermache puppets portraying Bush as Hitler. They hold up signs calling him Bushitler and promoting his killing. Dick Cheney gets no better treatment and sometimes even worse. Bush has been regularly referred to as “Chimpy” and pictures showing him as a ape are so routine at these demonstrations that they no longer merit a glance. Republicans are routinely labeled as “fascists” and “brownshirts”, though in actuality the demeanor of the protesters is closer the the ‘brownshirt’ methods than anything done by the administration.
But let the President make one speech comparing those who wish to “negotiate” with terrorists with the appeasers of the 1930s and the rules change.
Instantly, Barack Obama jumped up and declared that he resembled that remark and found it offensive. Neither Obama’s name or any group was named by the President, but I guess it is now offensive to make any remark that might be applied to Obama negatively, whether it was directed at him or not.
Almost instantly we have Anne Applebaum from the Washington Post making a case that comparisons with Hitler and Nazis should be off limits. They haven’t been since 2000, why should they be now?
Because they were (supposedly) directed at Obama and that cannot be tolerated.
I wonder how many other things are going to be disallowed during an Obama administration? Are Jay Leno and David Letterman going to be allowed to make jokes about him? Is anyone going to be allowed to ridicule his policies?
For the entire Bush administration we have been told that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism”. What do want to bet that that one is going to change too.