Hitlerizing the Discourse

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Here is Rep. Steve Cohen (D–Tenn.), speaking late last night to a nearly empty House chamber, on the repeal of healthcare reform:

They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it….The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it — believed it and you have the Holocaust.

That’s pretty inflammatory. But hey — I’m on record as believing that Nazi analogies aren’t always that big a deal. So perhaps I should be defending Cohen? Unfortunately, he followed up later with this:

“I said Goebbels lied about the Jews, and that led to the Holocaust,” Cohen said. “Not in any way whatsoever was I comparing Republicans to Nazis. I was saying lies are wrong…I don’t know who got everybody’s panties in a wad over this statement.”

Uh huh. My general take is that not all analogies to Nazi practices are necessarily deliberate comparisons of a person (or group) to Nazis. But then again, sometimes they are, and Rep. Cohen’s feeble denial to the contrary, that sure seems to have been his intent here. I mean, it sounds an awful lot like he’s saying Republicans are as bad as Goebbels, no?

Assignment desk: provide some guidelines for when Nazi analogies are OK and when they’re not. Use examples where necessary. Go to it, commenters.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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