Saturday, August 15, 2009

Comparing Obama to Hitler

Jackson County Commissioner Phil Duckham carried a sign with a swastika (with a circle and slash "no symbol around it) on it to the recent healthcare rally in Jackson, and the Jackson Citizen Patriot says in an article about the rally: "This is how Hitler started out," Duckham said. "First, Obama took over the auto industry, then the banking industry. We don't need him to take over the health-care industry."

What follows is my letter to the "Voice of the People" (letters to the editor) of the Jackson Citizen Patriot:
As a person of faith and as a citizen, I am appalled at County Commissioner Phil Duckham’s public actions and statements comparing Obama to Hitler. They were callous and insensitive comparisons. Comparing Obama to Hitler shows ignorance of Hitler’s motivations and actions, and insensitivity to the Holocaust survivors in our own community.

I invite any making such comparisons to do more to inform themselves. Actions I have taken to inform myself that I would recommend to anyone wanting to understand Hitler and the Holocaust include reading Anne Frank, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, Viktor Frankl, and our own local Miriam Winter; meeting and listening to Holocaust survivors; going to the excellent Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI; taking courses on the Holocaust; and visiting Auschwitz.

Arthur Caplan recently wrote for MSNBC, “There is plenty to debate about health reform. But there is nothing to debate about the contemptible introduction of references, direct or oblique, to Nazi Germany. To do so is to engage in Holocaust denial. To do that is, as those Americans of the greatest generation who died or were injured fighting the Nazi menace well understood, inexcusable.”

Rev. Cynthia L. Landrum, Minister
Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty

4 comments:

patrickmurfin said...

Good for you!

Does your local paper alow for comments in the web edition? If so, buckle up for some vicious attacks. Been there, got them.

Robin Edgar said...

I could be mistaken but I expect that plenty of Unitarian*Universalists were comparing U.S. President George W. Bush to Hitler and his policies to those of Nazi Germany not so long ago. . . Good letter to the editor though. Hopefully it well be published.

Cynthia Landrum said...

@Patrick Murfin - yes, they do allow comments on the web edition, but I don't always remember to go there and read them. I'll buckle up before I do.

@Robin Edgar - I'm sure you're absolutely right that some on the left, UUs among them, compared Bush to Hitler. I hope I wasn't one, and I hope I will remember this in the future if/when people on the left do use such rhetoric in the future. Sometimes we're hypocrits, but I'll definitely try not to be on this issue.

Cynthia Landrum said...

I have chosen not to post a comment of Robin's, because it does link to a video which carries allegations about people that, although I have listened to and read his accounts of his experience, I cannot judge the accuracy of. However, I wanted to mention it in the comments here, because the point of the post was to point out that in the comments on his Youtube video, a man identifying himself as a UU does say to Robin, "you sound like you want to be hitler." It is a clear example of the fact that UUs have used this type of Hitler-language as hyperbole, just as those against healthcare reform are doing now. At a press conference about local County Commissioner Phil Duckham's swastika sign, Anti-Defamation League representative Matt Miller said, "(The swastika) cannot be the basis of reasonable and intelligent discourse in this country." (http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/08/jackson_county_commissioner_ph.html) The same goes for comparing people to Hitler.