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Nazis, Lynching and Obamacare
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Nazis, Lynching and Obamacare - October 8, 2013, 12:59 PM

I thought this was a great piece...

Nazis, Lynching and Obamacare
By FRANK BRUNI

You might think that the methodical extermination of millions of Jews by a brutal regime intent on world domination would resist appropriation as an all-purpose metaphor. You might think that genocide, of all things, would be safe from conversion into sloppy simile.

After Paul Ryan’s fact-challenged address at the Republican National Convention last year, the chairman of the Democratic Party in California actually compared him and his compatriots to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. A short time later, the chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina likened that state’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, to Adolf Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun.

At that point Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, did what he shouldn’t need to do even once, let alone the multiple times that he’s been forced to. He implored politicians and pundits to stop it already.

No matter. Allusions to Nazi Germany were back for debates over gun control and, of course, Obamacare. Ted Cruz, the Senate’s prince of tirades, compared people who claim that the new insurance program can’t be stopped to those who rolled over for Hitler and the Third Reich. This prompted a public reprimand from John McCain, who has developed something of a sideline career of swatting Cruz on the nose. They’re like a hapless master and his hopeless dachshund. The former keeps trying to housebreak the latter, while the latter just beams at every mess he makes.

It’s not only Nazis who are flourishing in this era of metaphors gone mad, of analogy bloat. Lynch mobs are also having a good go of it. A senator who was quoted anonymously in The Times last week used that term to describe the Republican lawmakers who had lit into Cruz during a private luncheon, and lynching was invoked more disturbingly by the chief executive officer of A.I.G., who recently said that public complaints about Wall Street bankers’ bonuses were intended “to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses.” This, he added, was “sort of like what we did in the Deep South.”

How absolutely bonkers. And yet how unsurprising. We’re awash these days in metaphors as overworked as our political debate is overwrought, and it’s impossible not to wonder how much one contributes to the other. When nuance and perspective exit the language, do they exit the conversation as well? When you speak in ludicrous extremes, do you think that way, too?

Obamacare has proved to be not just ideologically divisive but linguistically fertile. There’s seemingly no event or passage in American history to which it can’t be compared.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11? Check. Back when Mike Pence, Indiana’s Republican governor, was still in Congress, he summoned that day’s horror to characterize the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act.

Slavery? Check. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, has described opposition to Obamacare in terms of stands against fugitive slave laws.

The hyperbole and hysteria make any constructive debate impossible, and they insult the past, robbing important events of the specific meaning and individual detail they deserve. Consider our recurring “-gate” mania. We equate each new scandal, whether extra-large or fun-size, with Watergate, and by willfully misremembering President Richard Nixon’s crimes, we dilute them. It’s just a suffix for the taking, a point of comparison for such wildly unrelated matters as the spilled secrets of Arkansas law enforcement officers who were supposedly privy to Bill Clinton’s private life. Troopergate, that was called.

For President Obama, Benghazi was supposed to be his Watergate, and so was the I.R.S.’s scrutiny of conservative groups, and so were a bunch of other things I can’t even remember anymore. They blur and fade, which is not to say they didn’t matter. It’s to say that when everything is supposedly like everything else, nothing’s distinctive. It’s all one big mush.

For that reason, among others, we should watch our words. They have consequences. As irresponsible and detestable as the recent actions of the most conservative wing of House Republicans have been, we’d be better off without figurative talk of hostage taking and guns to heads, without headlines like one in The Huffington Post that said: “Boehner Threatens to Shoot the Hostage.” That sort of language only turns up the heat.

And I cringe at how pointlessly hurtful it must have been for a 9/11 widow or widower to listen to the right-wing moralist Gary Bauer exhort voters to fight back against President Obama’s agenda the way passengers on United Flight 93 fought back against hijackers. Or for Holocaust survivors to hear all this gratuitous Nazi talk.

You know what’s just like Germany in the 1930s? Germany in the 1930s. We’re in an unfortunate place, but we needn’t travel back there to describe it.
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October 9, 2013, 07:06 AM

You mean like...

"The GOP War on Women"

"Republicans want children to starve"

and

"Punish Your Enemies"

????
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October 9, 2013, 02:04 PM

Shame on you. How dare you point out the fallacy in that idea that it is equal handed.
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October 9, 2013, 02:09 PM

Apparently you both missed the point. That's unfortunate.
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October 9, 2013, 04:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by big_sur View Post
Apparently you both missed the point. That's unfortunate.
Actually read the article and didn't miss the point in the least.

Politician say outlandish sh*t all the time. The idea that it is somewhat equal across party lines was my point.

Republicans may be the party of moral elitists but Democrats consistently say more outlandish and inflammatory crap. They get held to a completely different standard with their "negro" dialect.
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October 9, 2013, 05:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackHatch View Post
Actually read the article and didn't miss the point in the least.

Politician say outlandish sh*t all the time. The idea that it is somewhat equal across party lines was my point.

Republicans may be the party of moral elitists but Democrats consistently say more outlandish and inflammatory crap. They get held to a completely different standard with their "negro" dialect.
So you noticed the numerous examples of Democrats that were mentioned in the article? Did you count them or something and determine since they weren't exactly equal that you should comment on that instead of the point? Easy on the paranoid
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October 9, 2013, 05:19 PM

Of course I noticed the examples of Democrats. My retort was largely directly Too40, but you are being more than a bit intellectually dishonest if you think that the knife cuts evenly down the middle.

Nobody is debating whether or not Politics is Hollywood for ugly people and that these guy/gals aren't all vying for camera time.

If you think that the coverage of outlandish statements is equal in the media as a whole, you are crazy.

That goes for all the coverage or the actions of one party or another.

Had our past President executed American citizens abroad, it would have been front page news. You have to read the blogs to see coverage of that fact these days.

Easy on the selective ignorance.
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October 9, 2013, 05:45 PM

If Bush had said he could "heal the planet" and "slow the rise of the tides", it would be on a 24hr loop and made into Muzak and pumped into elevators.

All things considered, the water carrying media does a great job...


"I didn't know they gave out rings at the Holocaust"

*GODFATHER*
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October 10, 2013, 06:17 PM

To the OP: GREAT ARTICLE!

It's on point in that the main thrust of our Politicians it to be heard with the most crazy talking point(s). What the freak ever happened to truth and FACTS being ultra important in presenting a position. Our dysfunctional Gov't is about continuous argument without honesty and allowing the Democracy work as intended...


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