Everyone you oppose isn’t Hitler. So stop using the Nazi slur in politics.
SCOTT JENNINGS | OPINION CONTRIBUTORUpdated 8:43 a.m. CDT Aug. 7, 2018
We have to cool it with the Nazi crap.
I was on television the other night and everybody was up in arms about Donald Trump Jr. calling Democrats “Nazis.”
“You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s and what was actually put out there … and you look at it compared to like the DNC platform of today, and you’re saying, man, those things are awfully similar, to a point where it’s actually scary,” Trump Jr. said.
This commentary set off a round of media and liberal outrage, another familiar cycle wherein the left melts down over some Trump family comment. Then the fact checkers swooped in on cue with the predictable but unnecessary assurance that today’s American Democrats are not yesterday’s German Nazis.
This is the pathetic state of American political discourse.
But there we were, in the middle of another 24-hour circus, replaced almost as soon as it came by President Donald Trump’s own weekend tweets regarding the now infamous meeting in Trump Tower between his son and the Russians peddling complaints about adoption and information about Hillary Clinton.
But I’m still on the Nazis, because for eight years of the George W. Bush administration the term was casually tossed around by the American left as though it were a paper airplane in a middle school study hall.
In 2004, Moveon.org posted anti-Bush campaign ads morphing the 43rd president’s face into Adolph Hitler’s. The ads were condemned by The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress.
George Soros, the billionaire and liberal political operations financier, wrote a book in which he accused the Bush administration of Nazi-like propaganda tactics. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to serve in Congress and one of the chamber’s most liberal Democrats, spoke to an atheist group and compared “Bush to Adolf Hitler … hinting that he might have been responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.” Ellison is deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
I recall during my service in the Bush administration seeing regular images of anti-war protestors marching around with Nazi imagery depicting Bush as a modern-day Hitler.
This is what Democrats do – they compare Republicans to Nazis. Barry Goldwater. Ronald Reagan. Bush. And now Donald Trump, who is called a Nazi so often you can set a Glashütte-made watch by it.
They say his rallies remind them of Hitler’s. They accuse of him of propaganda tactics that would make Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels green with envy. They say he uses “dehumanizing” language, just like the Nazis dehumanized the Jews.
And it goes on and on and on. But just because Democrats flippantly (and incorrectly) call Republican presidents Nazis doesn’t make it right to respond in kind, as it further normalizes a brand that should never be remembered as anything but abnormally evil.
Trump himself has thrown around the Nazi slur, notably, as president-elect, questioning whether we are “living in Nazi Germany” as he raged over intelligence community leaks “about his campaign’s purported ties to Russia.” Not a banner day in presidential rhetoric to compare your own democratic republic to the Third Reich.
Which brings me back to Trump Jr. It was wrong for him to compare the American Democrats to Nazis. It is wrong for the Democrats to do it to Trump and Bush.
If you are a liberal about to glue a fake Hitler mustache to your upper lip before heading down to the protest march du jour, please stop.
If you are a Republican who wants to attack Democratic policies, ditch the Nazi cliché for something real, like the actual turn toward socialism as embodied by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
If you are the president, and you see Nazis marching around America, appropriating your name while doing so, repudiate them without hesitation. They don’t deserve your rhetorical deference.
Even as our partisan conflagration rages, its time both parties ditch the lazy and historically improper tactic of branding our political opponents as Nazis. It cheapens the word, as the tag should remain one of the most reviled brands in history. No matter your politics, resist the urge and make smarter arguments.
To call an American political actor a Nazi devalues the millions of lives lost at the hands of the brutal Nazi regime. Their memories are more important than your winning a 24-hour news cycle, or posting some dumb picture of yourself on social media thinking you’ve done anything other than make American politics worse in the process.
Scott Jennings is a CNN Contributor and Partner at RunSwitch Public Relations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ScottJenningsKY on Twitter. The online version contains hyperlinked citations.