Back to the 30’s: National Socialist and Republican Discourse part 1
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NEWS JUNKIE POSTDec 9, 2009 at 8:45 am
By Hrafnkell Haraldsson
Interestingly, while the Republicans invoke Godwin’s Law at every opportunity, engaging in cries of “Hitler! Nazism!” (also, “Stalin! Communism!”) when referring to liberals, Democrats, and Obama, it is the Republicans, and not the liberals, who have adopted and embraced the language and street-fighting tactics of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism.
It is my intent here to show here where the rhetoric and the tactics overlap. What is important to note, first off, is that for purposes of this discourse, there is no essential difference between “communism” and “socialism.” For the Right-wing’s worst ideological babblers (and there are too many to list here) there is also no difference between communism, socialism, and Nazism – it is perhaps no surprise that in the party opposed to science that political science would not be one of their top subjects.
But as in National Socialist discourse, the idea is not to mount arguments that make sense, or that address the issues on a point-by-point basis, but to use arguments that appeal emotionally and which generate fear, xenophobia, outrage, and hate. The central tactic of National Socialist discourse was to fix blame on another group, to absolve the outraged from personal responsibility through creation of an “Other.” For the National Socialists, this was the Jews/communists; for the Republicans, liberals/communists. I will return to this point presently.
The National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP) – or Nazi Party for short – was, or those who don’t know, a Right-wing organization – an extreme Right-wing organization. The Republican Party is, not coincidentally, also a Right-wing organization and it has grown more extreme over the past two decades, particularly as the so-called Religious Right has become the dominant force behind the GOP.1 This extremism was especially evident during the presidency of George W. Bush and again following the election of 2008, which put Barack Obama into the White House. The increasing polarization of American politics is too well documented to require a repeated examination here.
In fact, fears of Right-wing violence have become so pervasive that a Homeland Security report dated 7 April 20092 warned of an increased likelihood of terror attacks by these groups. The reaction of these groups – and of the extreme Right-wing in general – was to cry foul and declare that they would kill anyone who tried to take their guns. This reaction seems to reinforce the original warning, as does growing secessionist rhetoric – and racism.
This report makes for interesting reading. It notes that “the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.” Hitler disparaged not only Jews but Blacks, for example (in a quote we will revisit below) criticizing the possibility that a “negro can sit as president in the sessions of the League of Nations.”3 This racism is all-too evidence in Right-wing rhetoric. One might protest that the Republican leadership is not responsible for this but the rhetoric of its leading ideologues suggests otherwise. Rush Limbaugh, for example, has referred to President Obama as a “halfrican American” and playing the parody song “Barack the Magic Negro” repeatedly and that is not all:
On his October 27 radio show, Rush Limbaugh referred to President Obama as “this little boy, this little man-child president.” Limbaugh has repeatedly referred to Obama as a “boy” and as a “man-child”, including calling him “the little boy president” and claiming that Democrats and the media criticize “so-called ‘ferocious attacks’ ” on Obama because “you can’t criticize the little black man-child.”4
It will be made quite obvious even from the small collection of examples provided here, that there is very little to choose between National Socialist and Republican racism.
Storm Troopers and Tea Partiers
America was treated to the spectacle of National Socialist-style rabble-rousing during the 2008 presidential elections. Again and again the Republican candidates rallied the troops, not by attacking Democratic policies with cogent arguments but with ad hominem attacks and childish insults, by appealing not to the issues but to the fears of voters. In the first year of President Obama’s administration, this has escalated to fantasies, prayers, and hopes of death, not just for ordinary liberals, but for the President himself, and even calls for revolt.5
It will be seen below that groups like the Family Research Council (FRC), a radical conservative Christian group, which hosts a yearly hate-fest called the “Value Voters Summit” also supports the so-called “Tea Party Movement” which itself seems to be an embodiment of this warning that policy changes are “driving rightwing recruitment and radicalization.”
The Tea Party Movement, it should be stressed, is an Astroturf movement masquerading as a grass roots populist rebellion. In reality, it is “the action arm” of the Republican Party, much like the Brown Shirts were the action arm of the NSDAP. As Paul Krugman, economist and columnist of the New York Times writes, the Tea Party movement was “manufactured by the usual suspects.” And he names names: “In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. 6 And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News” and “Fox News contributors are listed as “Tea Party Sponsor[s]” on TaxDayTeaParty.com.”7
This is not the first time the GOP has resorted to strong-arm tactics by Astroturf mobs:
But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.8
On June 12 2009 the New York Times published a column by economist Paul Krugman who wrote that “right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.” He observed also that “the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. … have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.”
So the Tea Party Movement in some respects bears a resemblance to the NSDAP’s Brown Shirts, the SA (Sturmabteilung) – better known as Storm Troopers (i.e. thugs). Like the Brown Shirts, the Tea Partiers can be mobilized at a moment’s notice (just as FreedomWorks says) to intimidate opponents and to shout down opposing view, as we saw in Krugman’s example above. As Media Matters for America points out,
Fox News has adopted the Tax Day “tea parties” as its own, urging its audience to organize and attend what it characterizes as protests of Obama administration tax and economic policies; the network’s promotions of these tea-party protests have been largely devoid of meaningful and truthful discussion of the actual merits and flaws in the administration’s proposals for reform.9
Is there an association between the Homeland Security warning and the tea partiers? Yes. And yes, the people and Right-wing militias targeted by this report are Republicans, and Glenn Beck even brags about these associations in speaking of his 9/12 Project, “912project.com”: You know, are they militia members? Yes. Yes, sure they are, along with all the other people that are now on the tea parties nationwide.”10 Those in doubt might consult the Tea Party widget from TaxDayTeaParty endorsing revolution.
The GOP’s ideological standard bearers celebrate the Tea Party in the same way that the NSDAP celebrated the SA. These are heroes, we are told, average, everyday folks who have risen up to combat the enemy and preserve our Nation and our values.11 If it not unreasonable to suppose that we might someday, under a Right-wing administration, see postage stamps dedicated to the Tea Party Movement just as the National Socialist era saw stamps dedicated to the SA, but the GOP use of NSDAP propaganda is another article altogether.
Similarly, the NSDAP showed little regard for the actual merits and flaws in the arguments, positions, platforms, organizations and programs they opposed. Like the Republican Party, the Nazis answered with insults, jibes, threats of violence – but seldom with a comprehensive or cogent rebuttal of opposing positions. Bullying was the order of the day, as we have seen it to be here.
The National Socialist Party was a party of fear and hate. It inculcated fear and hate among those who listened to its message. Fear of conspiracies to destroy Germany, to destroy all that is good in Germany, to destroy German values, the German nation. Fear of the same. The result: demonization of all who stand against this idealized Germany, and I say “idealized” because Hitler wasn’t representing a real Germany at all, but a Germany that existed only in nationalist fantasies, much like the mythical America appealed to by Republican demagogues today. Hate and fear: a potent combination, and wielded with great skill. This same hate and fear has reared its head again in politics. In the United States this brew is found in Republican rhetoric.
The Brownshirts (Storm Troopers) were infamous for their own rhetoric – violence against their opponents – intimidation, threats of physical violence, etc. Extremist rhetoric at Tea Parties is commonplace. Again, we have seen this in Krugman’s example above. But there are other, more recent examples of these tactics being used:
Tea Party Insanity: “Burn The Books!” (VIDEO)
Treatment of a counter protester who is advocating a public health insurance option for health care
Teabaggers Try To Shout Down Health Care Reform At Town Halls
Those were the thugs – the mob tactics used in the streets today, copied from the Brown Shirt playbook. It is hardly surprising to read a report that “The White Supremacist group StormFront is encouraging its members to join the tea party.”12 Yes, real Nazis feel right at home with this Republican Party-endorsed movement.
As the Homeland Security report informs us in relation to the killing of three Pittsburg police officers on April 4, 2009: “The alleged gunman’s reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled “one world government.”
Significantly, the alleged “liberal media elite” avoids reporting on these fringe groups and their connections to the Republican Party.
Editors note- This is the first in a series of in depth looks at the parallels between the rise of fascism in the 1920′s and 1930′s in Europe and events happening in America today. This piece was originally posted on another news site which suffered a terminal server failure shortly there after. Stay tuned for Part 2 right here on NewsJunkiePost.
1William A. Galston & Pietro S. Nivola, “The Great Divide: Polarization in American Politics,” The American Interest (2006): “All else equal, the more often individuals attend church, the more likely they are to regard themselves as conservatives and vote Republican.”
2Prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis
Division. Coordinated with the FBI.
3Adolf Hitler, January 27, 1932, Speech to the Industry Club, Dusseldorf.
5Most recently Rush Limbaugh’s November 25, 2009 remarks on the Rush Limbaugh Show, expressing homes that the military will detain Obama while he is at West Point giving a speech. http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200911250024
6New York Times, April 12, 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/opinion/13krugman.html According to FreedomWorks: “FreedomWorks recruits, educates, trains and mobilizes hundreds of thousands of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.” (emphasis mine) http://www.freedomworks.org/about/about-freedomworks
8Paul Krugman, “Tea Parties Forever,” New York Times, April 12, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/opinion/13krugman.html
9“REPORT: Emerging Culture of Paranoia: Obama Derangement Syndrome epidemic on conservative airwaves
Media Matters for America, April 13, 2009 http://mediamatters.org/research/200904130024
11Former Rep. John Kasich (R-OH) on FOX News, March 12, 2009.
- December 10, 2009 Back to the 30’s: National Socialist and Republican Discourse part 2
- December 13, 2009 Back to the 30’s: National Socialist and Republican Discourse part 5
- December 12, 2009 Back to the 30’s: National Socialist and Republican Discourse part 4
- December 11, 2009 Back to the 30’s: National Socialist and Republican Discourse part 3
- January 4, 2010 Facts About Conservative Truthiness