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No Excuse for Invoking Hitler’s Name When Criticizing Opponents

Keisha Rogers is a 37-year-old Black political activist from Texas who is running for the U.S Senate representing the state’s 22nd congressional district. This is a district that has, historically, been predominately Republican. Rogers, a two–time candidate, has sent shock waves through the Lone Star State political world as she has emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic primary. She campaigned on the theme of restoring Texas politics to the days of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson era. OK. This is not all that unusual or surprising a position for a democratic candidate to take. Right?

Well, Rogers is a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, the political extremist/activist who unsuccessfully ran for president several times. Now in his early nineties (91) and no longer having the health nor energy needed for presidential campaigns, he has a number of surrogates who he supports with ample financial backing to do so. LaRouche, himself, has a very checkered and controversial past. He has routinely spouted right-wing conspiracy theories and anti-gay, anti-labor and other anti-progressive rhetoric.

Rogers’ unexpected primary victory has embarrassed the Texas Democratic establishment and has put the party on high-octane damage-control mode. Despite her recent victory, most political pundits in the state predict that her third effort at winning political office statewide will be unsuccessful as well. The fact that she has consistently run for public office is not the main issue here. What is more surprising, perhaps shocking, is her viewpoints and inflammatory rhetoric on a number of topics, most notably her opinions of President Obama. Rogers has compared the president to Adolf Hitler and has called for his impeachment. While both acts are largely part of the lunatic fringe, the Hitler comment is most troubling.

To be sure, Rogers is not the first person to refer to the current president as Hitler or a Nazi. Tom Sullivan, Rush Limbaugh, Hank Williams Jr. and others have done so. Another Texas congressmen, Ted Cruz, made the appalling comment that funding President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is similar “to appeasing Nazi Germany.” Wow! What a sick, demented mindset we have Mr. Cruz! Each of these individuals was staunchly admonished in certain quarters and rightly so. What is most unacceptable is for a Black person to use such inflammatory and outlandish rhetoric to compare another Black person — in particular, the president of the United States — to one of the most evil, vile individuals and regimes to ever walk this earth. Hopefully voters will come to their senses and reject such a candidate.

The fact is, that over the past several years, it has become more commonplace for politicians, entertainers, athletes and normal everyday people in both the public and private spheres to employ brash references to Hitler and Nazis whenever they want to attack or discredit and opponent or someone they dislike. There have been billboards portraying the president with a Hitler mustache to posters of the president with slogans stating “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds” to “President De Fuhrer.” This is disgraceful, malicious and downright appalling. There is no place for such callous commentary in a civilized society.

Such odious rhetoric has crossed political lines. To be sure there have been detractors of former president George W. Bush who have hurled the Hitler/Nazi label toward him as well. This was uncalled for and unacceptable as well. Such comments are an insult to those whose ancestors suffered and perished under such an evil and amoral regime. Columnist Joe Gandelman of the website The Moderate Voice said it best when he asked whether any president “has ever killed women and children upon arrival then worked the men to death or gassed them? Has any American President murdered three million Jews in Poland alone?” Gandelman uses other examples.

Many groups alarmed by this ugly trend have decided to take action. The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) created an online petition where outraged citizens across political lines can add their names in unison with others who are disgusted by this divisive trend in our American political discourse. Such an effort is right on the money. Interestingly, President Obama called for “a higher level of discourse” in our political dialogue during his most recent state of the union address.

The fact is that political candidates or anyone for that matter should understand that employing offensive Holocaust rhetoric and anti-Semitic, racist or other insulting language in their writings and speeches is perverse and reprehensible. Trivializing Hitler and the Nazis is a slap in the face to every descendent of those who suffered at their hands. It is the equivalent of those who invoke obscene slavery references to denounce their opponents. This dangerously over-the-top rhetoric must cease. Period.

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