Archive for August 19th, 2009

The Hitler Parade Continues

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

For awhile, I’ve been doing my best to keep the health care debate in perspective. We are extremely fortunate to live in a time and place where the debate over health care is our most serious, inflaming issue. Most of us in this country have some measure of personal security. We are not hungry. We have access to good medicine. Bombs are not shredding our public squares.

Last week, I blogged about how the Republicans are being hypocritical by not forcefully responding to those comparing Obama to Hitler. (And some in the GOP are actually making these comparisons, themselves.)

Well, the Hitler parade continues.

In this video, a man praising the Israeli national health care system is interrupted by a woman shouting “Heil Hitler.” Watch the video. It’s one of the most upsetting things I’ve seen in a very long time.

In this video, Rep. Barney Frank, a Jew, confronts a woman at a town hall who, toting a picture of Obama defaced to look like Hitler, demands to know why Frank supports Obama’s “Nazi” policies. (“Ma’am,” Frank says, “trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table.  I have no interest in doing it.”)

In an article in the News-Record of Greensboro, Rabbi Fred Guttman writes of confronting a man at a health care rally who carried a sign reading: “ObamaCare = NationalSocialism” (aka Naziism).

Where is the Republican outrage as this wave of ugliness washes over our Democracy? Where is the demand that Rush Limbaugh cease and desist his ugly comparisons between Obama’s administration and the Nazis? Where are the brave Republicans who — like the brave Israeli in the video, and Barney Frank, and Rabbi Guttman — have the guts to get in the face of these despicable hatemongers and shout: Enough!

Really, lady castigating Barney Frank at the mic? Obama is Hitler?

Rabbi Guttman writes:

When I lived in Israel, I had the opportunity to meet on several occasions with a woman named Ruth Eliaz, an Auschwitz survivor.

Most pregnant women and women with young children were sent directly to the gas chambers as soon as the cattle car transports arrived at Auschwitz. Ruth, pregnant at the time, wasn’t showing and was selected to be a worker. As her pregnancy continued, she tried her best to cover her stomach, knowing that if she were to be discovered, she would be sent directly to the gas chamber. Eventually the pregnancy could not be hidden any longer. Ruth was taken to the infamous Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele.

In Auschwitz, Mengele conducted horrific experiments on Jews. Mengele told Ruth that he had something special in mind for her and that he would allow her to continue the pregnancy to term. After Ruth gave birth to a baby boy, she began to breast-feed the child. Mengele had her brought to him, whereupon he strapped her to a gurney and injected her breasts with poison so she would not be able to feed her baby. The purpose of this “experiment” was to see how long a newborn baby could live without being fed. After several days of seeing her child suffer, Ruth could stand it no longer and smothered her own child.

I am starting to believe this debate over health care is no longer a “luxury” — a national conversation that we are lucky to be having, regardless of how it turns out. I am starting to see this as a new fight for the very soul of our country.

Is ours a nation where Republicans and their supporters can tacitly sanction widespread comparison between Obama and the regime that injected poison into a new mother’s breasts, forcing her to murder he own child?

Hate health care. Shout all you want about why you think government run insurance amounts to Socialism. Scream and bellow and stomp your feet. But do not, in willful ignorance, cheapen the memory of the 6 million who died. And don’t stand idly by, out of fear or embarassment or political expediencey, and let it proceed.

Jose Saramago, the Nobel Laureate, wrote a book about this kind of thinking. It’s called “Blindness,” and it does not end well.

“Do we have enough strength for the task, asked the girl with dark glasses,” Saramago writes, “The question is not whether we have enough strength, the question is whether we can allow ourselves to leave this woman here, Certainly not, said the doctor, Then the strength must be found.”