Leftist hate speech
Jeff Jacoby's traditional end-of-year column is up, on "liberal hate speech". As usual, Jacoby does a good job of documenting outrageous statements made by Leftists throughout the year. Nina Totenberg openly wishing for one of Jesse Helms grandchildren to get AIDS is really sick and despicable.
This seems like a good jumping-off point to address the offensive comparisons of President Bush to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. (Jonah Goldberg addressed this at length in September.)
Not that anyone needs a history lesson, but Hitler was the "Fuehrer" of Nazi Germany. He initiated a military buildup that produced the "Wehrmach" and had dreams of establishing a German empire in Europe. Hitler is also known for the murder of over six million Jews in Nazi concentration camps, perhaps the most famous historical example of genocide.
George W. Bush is the President of the United States, elected as a Republican in 2000. Bush's policies are fairly moderate, enough so that he has turned off some conservatives.
Some Leftists love to compare Bush to Hitler. I think comparing the President of the United States to a dictator responsible for the mass extermination of millions of people is quite disrespectful to Hitler's victims. The Nazis, along with the Soviet Union, perpetrated some of the most heinous evils of the 20th Century. While some may strongly disagree with President Bush's policies, he isn't a Nazi. This, of course, is common sense.
I'm not one to say that the word Nazi should never be used to describe modern political figures. Slobodan Milosevic certainly earned the comparison with his genocidal campaign against the Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The butchers of Rwanda are certainly comparable to Nazis, as are warlords such as the deceased Mohamad Farah Aidid in Somalia who used food as a weapon in a country devastated by famine.
However, the word Nazi has serious implications. It is unworthy of respectful political discourse to shout "Nazi!" at the other side simply as an insult. Setting aside the fact that such insults are grossly inaccurate and unfair, it cheapens the word Nazi when it is so overused in situations where it clearly does not apply.
No, negative and nasty personal attacks are nothing new in politics. That doesn't mean some of the things said about President Bush are justifiable, nor does it mean that kind of rhetoric is acceptable in reasonable political discourse. There comes a point when you have to stand up and say, "this is wrong." Political discourse doesn't have to stay in the gutter. Things can improve, but only if we hold politics to a higher standard than we have come to expect.
Follow-up:, January 6th
I am continually amazed by the reaction of some Leftists to Jeff Jacoby's condemnation of Nina Totenberg's statement about Jesse Helms. I'm stunned that anyone would defend her, or say her statement is not hate speech. Let's review what she said.
"I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind," she said of Senator Jesse Helms in 1995, "because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will."
She said it would be "justice" for Helms or one of his grandchildren to get AIDS. In other words, she's wishing that Helms (or one of his grandchildren) will get AIDS. Whatever one thinks of a political opponent, wishing death upon his grandchildren via a disease that kills slowly through opportunistic infections is sick, twisted, and perverted. How is it "justice" for someone's grandchildren to get AIDS because you disagree with his political views? Of course, it is not exactly pristine behavior to wish death upon a political opponent, but wishing death upon a political opponent's FAMILY should be universally recognized as way over the line. Perhaps Totenberg would have been a better fit leading a Stalinist "purge" of the Communist Party.
I understand politics can be nasty. I have no problem with harsh criticism of elected officials for their record, their statements, or their behavior. But it is inexcusable to attack someone's family in such a personal, vindictive, and hateful manner.
And still some Leftists defend Totenberg, because of their hate for Jesse Helms, while any such statement about disgraced ex-President Clinton would bring a chorus of righteous indignation not only from the Left, but from most on the Right. As to the "justice" comment, let a conservative say that AIDS is "God's judgment" for homosexuality, and the Left will screech until they collectively blow out their vocal chords.
Hypocrisy? You better believe it!