Representative Steve Cohen of of Tennessee criticized Republican opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan as being analagous to the techniques used by Goebbels and other Nazis to promote their agenda. Today, people are accusing Cohen of comparing Republicans to the Nazis, but a close reading of his speech makes it clear that he was simply using a persuasive analogy, in much the same way that tyrannical dictator and mass-murderer Josef Stalin might have done under similar circumstances.
In a speech to an empty room last night, Rep. Cohen said: “[Republicans] say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels…. The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it–believed it and you have the Holocaust.” [Source: Karl, Jonathan. “Say what? Democrat compares Republican to Nazis,” ABC News, 1/19/2011. Downloaded from: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/01/abc-news-jonathan-karl-reports-the-newfound-civility-didnt-last-long-political-rhetoric-in-congress-doesnt-get-much.html]
While Republicans might accuse Rep. Cohen of using political vitriol in his comparison between Republicans and Nazis, I, for one, think we should give Rep. Cohen the benefit of the doubt. Like Russian dictator Josef Stalin, Cohen was simply using a rhetorical device to get a point across. Honestly, would you have understood what he meant by “big lie” if he had not offered an example of Nazis giving a big lie? I didn’t think so.
Because of his well-intentioned analogy, Rep. Cohen finds himself on trial in the court of public opinion today. And, like Charles Manson, he deserves a fair trial. At a minimum we should give Cohen a little respect because, like the Ayatollah Khomeini, he is a politician. And if he was a tad critical of his political opponents (just as Pol Pot was critical of his opponents), then we should at least try to understand the substance of his criticism.
Rep. Cohen evidently believes in his government’s health-care plan, just as Pinochet believed in his economic policies. And Republicans are wrong to attack Cohen like they attacked Saddam Hussein. It will be a real tragedy if Rep. Cohen’s reputation is smeared (just as Idi Amin’s reputation was smeared), simply because he used a helpful analogy between Republicans and Nazis.
Karl, Jonathan. “Say what? Democrat compares Republicsn to Nazis,” ABC News, 1/19/2011. Downloaded from: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/01/abc-news-jonathan-karl-reports-the-newfound-civility-didnt-last-long-political-rhetoric-in-congress-doesnt-get-much.html