Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An apt (Nazi) analogy - Updated

All analogies are not created equal. Sometimes nothing else is more apt than a Nazi analogy and that would seem to be the case with Rep. Steve Cohen's analogy on GOP lies about healthcare. Watch the video, because the voice inflection matters, but here's a transcript:
“They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing."

“The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it--believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover," Cohen said.
So what did he say that wasn't true? The Republicans are telling Goebbels sized lies. Goebbels lied and millions died. The GOP is lying and the end result if they're successful, is millions will die for lack of health care. What is that if not a stealth, slow motion Holocaust for the uninsured?

And seriously. Watch Cohen's entire speech [via]. Cohen's words weren't spoken in anger. He was giving voice to the genuine concerns of the voiceless. Really not seeing the reason for the mass hurlings onto the fainting couch. This looks like just another ginned up media outrage to slake the news hole.

Update: Cohen is not backing down. Good for him. No reason to apologize. As he points out, he was comparing the tactics, not specifically the people. It's not equivalent to calling them Nazis.

Update: My friend Hart agrees and has much more to say.

[More health reform posts at the Detroit News today.]

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Blogger Kevin McKague said...

I wholeheartedly and completely disagree this time, Libby.
Even if I were to agree that the tactics are similar, and I don't, I don't think you can compare anybody's tactics with any Nazi without the implicit implication that the tactics are used to the same means.
If you'll forgive my very bad analogy to serve as an example, it's like me saying "My son hits a baseball, just like Babe Ruth".
It's true, my son plays baseball, but a reader would be free to infer that I meant he played in Yankee Stadium, broke MLB records, when in fact he is 13 yrs old.

OK, I said it was a bad analogy, but so is the Goebbles quote. My bad analogy doesn't insult the memories of millions of dead Nazi victims by having their very real plight compared to an albiet inpolite political battle on the floor of a democratic legislative body over health care reform.

I called the congressman's office and told his staff that I was embarassed for my party and that he should apologize.

10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Actually, I don't think it's such a bad analogy and despite Mr. Godwin, I think the lesson of Goebbels is so universal; so much a leitmotif for our comic opera world that we need to comment more often when people use the big and oft repeated lie. It's been the cause of many genocides and many horrors and if the horror of going back to our bad old ways of putting profits before the survival of children isn't as bad as throwing them into ovens or chopping up a million families with machetes, it's still the same process and it still works.

When it becomes a thing only of interest to historians, then I'll stop mentioning the Nazis.

10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin McKague said...

I think that murdering millions of people qnd putting them in ovens is decidedly unlike refusing to pay medical bills (as unfriendly as that is), and that there is an epidemic of really, really bad analogies is hurting discourse as much as violent rhetoric.

Just sayin'.

10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Well Kev we do disagree here. If you watched the full video, you'll see it was just a bare mention and fit into the greater context of his remarks. The reform bill was weak but to repeal it and put the country back to square one is the same as saying it's okay for ins co's to practice recission, to deny coverage to sick kids, to wantonly raise rates so that millions of citizens can't afford coverage and many die because they wait until they're critically ill to seek help because they can't afford to see a doctor and feed their families, or heat their homes or clothe their kids.

Cohen didn't say the GOpers were intent on genocide, but the effect of their lies leads to virtual genocide, albeit in slow motion, of an entire social class of Americans. The people and motivations aren't the same, but the lies aren't so different, are they really? Also, Cohen IS Jewish, so it's natural he would relate his anguish to his personal history.

All that being said, yeah, maybe it wasn't the best choice for an analogy, but only because it provides a distraction and gives the wingnuts a "see they're so uncivil" bone to chew on.

11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"I think that murdering millions of people and putting them in ovens is decidedly unlike refusing to pay medical bills "

Yes, of course, but the point, for me, is the similarity of technique, in the way they shape public opinion and in how they misrepresent and fabricate facts to further the objectives of a class or group and thwart another.

I think the similarity is proper to talk about.

9:09:00 AM  

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