Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Holocaust Gaffes Are A Bipartisan Habit

A busy week in Holocaust misappropriation

Print Email
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett(Epoch Times)

In his inaugural column, our Righteous Gentile Michael C. Monyihan wrote about the surge of Hitler-themed debate points on the campaign trail and in the media.

If comparing something to the Holocaust that isn’t anything at all like the Holocaust were an impeachable offense, the United States might run out of politicians.

An update on one of the stories: Roscoe Bartlett–a Republican representative from Maryland–has apologized for a comment he made earlier this week comparing federal student loans–which Bartlett deems unconstitutional–to the “slippery slope” in Germany that ultimately led to the Holocaust.

“Not that it’s not a good idea to give students loans; it certainly is a good idea to give them loans,” Bartlett said. “But if you can ignore the Constitution to do something good today, tomorrow you will be ignoring the Constitution to do something bad. You could. There are more people in our, in America today of German ancestry than any other [inaudible]. The Holocaust that occurred in Germany — how in the heck could that happen? And when you start down the wrong road, it can be a very slippery slope.”

Another example from earlier this week was John Burton, Chair of the California Democratic Party, compared the speeches given at the Republican National Convention (with special emphasis on VP-hopeful Paul Ryan) to the work of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi propagandist.

“They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie… [Nazi Germany’s Propaganda Minister] Joseph Goebbels – it’s the big lie, you keep repeating it.”

Burton eventually apologized. As Monyihan points out, this is “yet another example of the triumph of crudity in American political discourse.”

Related: Hitler on the Campaign Trail [Tablet Magazine]
Bartlett Calls Federal Loans Unconstitutional, Invokes Holocaust [WaPo]
Republicans Condemn Goebbels Comment by California Democratic Party Chair [Times of Israel]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Pam Green says:

I think the Nazi references are used for their shock value, to get attention, but then again, they might have a more sinister motive, that of redeeming Nazism. Because, of course, the danger of such comparisons are that they normalize the Nazis. Instead of demonizing student loans or Paul Ryan, they have the opposite effect, of minimizing the Nazi horror, tempering it, making it seem civilized, a matter of debate.

I think this is what is called “moral equivalence”, which is a form of propaganda. According to one definition, moral equivalence is a logical fallacy which “defines distinct and conflicting moral behavior in similar terms”. See
which states, “An author who suggests that one act of serious wrongdoing does not differ from a minor offence commits the fallacy of moral equivalence. Many people say that “all sins are equal in God’s eyes,” which effectively equates ethnic cleansing with stealing a pencil. Our laws make many precise distinctions amongst the various types of violent crimes. Motives are different, and so these criminals are held accountable accordingly. ”

To allow references to the Nazis to be used casually and with ever increasing frequency in political debate is extremely offensive and alarming. And to trivialize their potential effects by calling them “gaffes” is also harmful.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Holocaust Gaffes Are A Bipartisan Habit

A busy week in Holocaust misappropriation

More on Tablet:

The Kindergarten Teacher Who Won Cannes

By Vladislav Davidzon — Hungarian actor Géza Röhrig stars in Auschwitz drama Son of Saul