After watching more incomprehensible town hall hijinks, I began to wonder how so many thirtysomething, ditsy, housewives became such experts on Hitler and Nazism. I realize that the usual suspects; Limbaugh, Beck, and other dim bulbs with red faces, have been working the Nazi angle for weeks, but they're not the ones furnishing the "Obama as Hitler" posters appearing at an event near you. That distinction belongs to Lyndon LaRouche, the perennial candidate for president on the Democratic side, although LaRouche is a Democrat in the same way as say, Leon Trotsky. He's been called a philosopher and visionary economist, but also a cult leader who uses his young followers, an anti-Semite, a fascist, and a convicted felon and ex-convict, the last two being non-subjective. His twisted message is all here. It's been confirmed that the woman who asked Rep. Barney Frank "why he supports a Nazi policy?" is a LaRouche devotee. How damaged must your reasoning be to accuse a gay, Jewish congressman of supporting the Nazis? It shows zero knowledge of history and is painful and offensive, not only to the memory of the victims of Hitler's genocidal regime, but to the sacrifice of almost a half-million American servicemen who died to rid the world of this demented demon of the twentieth century.
I know the argument; "this sort of extremism happens on both sides," but it seems to have broken out like poison sumac on the populace over the summer. As much as I despised the philosophy and actions of the Bush government, you would be hard-pressed to find any comparisons to Hitler in four years of these posts. Know why? Because I fucking know better. It's the cheapest, meanest, and dumbest sort of protest there is. Don't like Obama's health care initiative? Compare him to Hitler. It would be ridiculous on its face were it not for the fact that so many impressionable and angry people, especially in the South, have embraced this as a good idea. So, as long as any geek with a grudge feels entitled to discuss the Nazis, I'll break precedent and give it a stab. Which leader is more Hitleresque? One who wishes to make decent health care accessible to all citizens, or one who invades a sovereign nation without provocation and sets up a systematic, worldwide, torture ring? I report, you decide.
The handsome people in the above photograph are my great grandmother, Sala Haspel, with my two great uncles, Josef and Pavel, and Aunt Frania. The picture was taken in Warsaw and sent to her third son in Memphis, my grandfather, who was the only member of his family to escape Europe alive. See, all these people were murdered by the Nazis, and as meticulous as the Gestapo was known for their record keeping, there is no trace of them anywhere. Their names are not listed in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, nor in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. They simply vanished from the earth. I had always known this, but some years ago, I came into possession of my grandfather's papers, and after seeing their faces and learning their names, it became far more personal. I read his anguished letters to foreign ambassadors and government officials about learning the fate of his "dear ones," without result. This is the dismay that all the Hitler comparisons evoke in millions of people like me, and provokes the contempt I feel for those who use them. And all over health care? There is something deeper and more disturbing here that must be faced.
The past eight years have caused me to surrender my pacifism. I had the notion that the Republicans lost the last election and we might try something new. But after witnessing the disruption, uncivic behavior, and general obnoxiousness at Rep. Steve Cohen's town hall meeting in Memphis, I think the only way to effectively communicate with some of these goons is with a left hook. Please forgive my passion on the subject, but there is free speech, and then there is hate speech. I'm neither young nor strong anymore, and perhaps I lived so long under the protection of the late Sputnik Monroe that I feel emboldened, but should anyone ever approach me with that Hitler stuff at a public event, I will do my dead-level best to fuck you up. Either that, or I hope I'm on your "death panel." Oh, I'm sorry. Should I have said, "Mister?"