Stop equating trivial things to Nazis or Hitler

  • Article by: Frank Hornstein
  • Updated: January 23, 2014 - 7:08 PM

As a legislator, I have heard colleagues, constituents, the media and the public use inappropriate Holocaust analogies with alarming frequency.

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ivaro3Jan. 23, 14 7:43 PM

I have a wondeful aunt who is 80 and survived 3 camps, including Auschwitz. She once told me Schindler's List didn't show anywhere near the true atrocities of the screams and smells of daily life in Auschwitz. In addition, she lost most of her family in the camps. The author is right, and anything that trivializes what happened keeps us from the brutal reality of what we hoped would never happen again.

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wiseoracleJan. 23, 14 8:07 PM

Ever since i was a young child, i have been very upset\confused about what took place in Nazi Germany. I have always wondered... how could a whole society *allow* that to happen? One insane person; even with several henchmen... can't possibly corrupt the will, and the common sense of an entire nation of people! Or can they?? Why didn't some German's just take Hitler out - right away? For many years... i just imagined that this was a unique trait of the Germany people. That whole Aryan race crap. But as i grew older... i've come to realize that it is, in fact, a universal flaw in human character; an overwhelming need to just follow the heard. Even off a cliff, if led there. It *could* happen anywhere - wherever weak minded people just go with the flow. The author's request for greater sensitivity is an understandable request. But, I would add... that it *is* valid to raise (some; non-trivial) comparisons. It is valid to ask (in some cases)... what is it about us, that we don't use critical thinking? That we so often fail to stop injustice? We damn well know it when we see it! We should question our past more often - and ask ourselves if we're allowing\following more terrible leadership. That is not meant to disrespectful of the lives lost in gas chambers; quite the contrary, in fact. Question. Compare. And don't repeat. In the end, it's not up to the *leaders*, its up to the *led*!

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ishikawaJan. 23, 14 9:35 PM

Free speech, even that speech which you distaste, is what Hitler and the Nazi's censored and slaughtered those that dared to speak. So, tell us again what is it you want to restrict?

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akmscottJan. 23, 14 9:50 PM

Oh my yes!Try to shame people from speaking up against tyranny from DC!

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erikj3Jan. 23, 14 9:52 PM

Also, slavery.

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carlsogaJan. 23, 1410:06 PM

I agree with Representative Hornstein. I retired last spring after 35 years of teaching German. Students came to my classes with a certain fascination of how the Nazis could have so much power. I taught them German history, including the Holocaust. We read materials in German and visited Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich on our visits to Germany. My students knew that I did not accept them referring to anything or anyone contemporary as Nazis, only if they were talking about Neo-nazis in Germany. "Nazi" refers to the fascist political party and I, too, become upset when people refer to someone today as a "Nazi." I didn't even like the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld. I agree that using this word will only trivialize the horrific events of Third Reich, 1933-1945. Some of us would rather think that we are not capable of such acts.

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stpaulisbestJan. 23, 1410:48 PM

The problem is this: When a political party starts acting like the Nazis did when they were first coming to power, reasonable sounding but headed in a totalitarian direction, it's appropriate to point out that they are simply doing what the Nazis did. That is, they achieve power by blaming others for the problems of the country and when they have power they act as though they have the right to dictate to the rest of us. So when we say that this political party is acting like Nazis because they want to oppress the poor, disenfranchise those who don't look like them, control the vote, redistribute wealth to benefit the few, use the military as an extension of their politics and set up agencies to spy on their citizens, all things one party did 6 - 14 years ago, it is appropriate to cal them Nazis. Because it can happen here.

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bradmg1979Jan. 23, 1410:49 PM

Well then tell Obama and the dems to stop acting like Hitler and his Nazi's

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hawkeye56379Jan. 23, 1410:51 PM

If you're talking about someone personally responsible for the murder of 12 million people then you can compare them to Hitler, otherwise, no.

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orpheus90Jan. 23, 1410:57 PM

ishikawa writes: Free speech, even that speech which you distaste, is what Hitler and the Nazi's censored and slaughtered those that dared to speak. So, tell us again what is it you want to restrict? ... How about dumb and inappropriate analogies to nazism. Free speech is no excuse for stupid speech. That said, nonetheless, there clearly are instances in which the analogy of nazism IS appropriate. Over the past decades various US right wing groups have been particularly shameless about borrowing rhetorical propaganda tactics used by the Nazis to conduct campaigns that would attack, demonize and dehumanize social minorities they don't like. I'm talking about the sort of stuff that gets them listed as hate groups by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center. In this instance, the analogy is all too appropriate. But groups that want to ban smoking in public venues? Not even in the same universe.

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