Max Brantley at Arkansas Blog discovered an interesting story. Republican State Representative Nate Bell has put the following quote allegedly from Hitler’s Mein Kampf on his facebook page:
As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.– Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
In response to the post, Bell has defended his choice of quotable statesmen in the following remarks on his facebook page:
“Comparing Dems to Nazis is wayyyy to easy. Let’s start with banning cell phone use while parked in a school zone. After all, it’s for the children. How about banning soccer goals in the entire state? Banning texting while walking? Banning private ownership of monkeys? The state determining how long my hamburger MUST be cooked? Banning wearing headphones while jogging? These were all Democrat bills introduced this session. Dems use children to pass bad legislation regularly.”
“Apparantly there are some on the left who can’t see the irony in the fact that their side agrees with Hitler. I feel sorry for those who are so blinded to reality that they somehow see posting this as supportive of Nazism.”
Okay, lets get this logic straight.
1. Hitler allegedly said that pretending to care about children was a good propaganda strategy.
2. Therefore, anybody who claims to care about children must be a veiled Nazi, or at least belongs to the side that “agrees with Hitler”.
3. Food safety regulations, traffic laws and the like are the road to Nazism because they might prevent children from dying, which is exactly what Hitler was all about.
One wonders whether in Bell’s opinion, that also means that the Arkansas Family Council, which has tried to ban gay adoption in order to “protect the welfare of children”, “agrees with Hitler”.
But, before we all capitulate before the flawless logic of Nate Bell’s reasoning, let’s point out two facts:
1. Caring about children wasn’t in fact a big topic of Nazi propaganda. Much more important was propaganda based on national security, racial fears, and traditional family values.
2. The alleged Hitler quote is a fabrication. Not of Bell’s making, heaven forbid – he just copied and pasted it from one of hundreds of right-wing-nut internet sites.
So what do we have here? A Republican politician using a fabricated Hitler quote to smear his Democratic opponents as veiled Nazis who exploit people’s concern for their children in order to turn Arkansas into a Tyranny by proposing food safety and traffic laws. Quite a mouthful but accurate.
UPDATE July 26:
Democrats demand an apology from Nate Bell. Bell so far refuses. John Burris, Republican House minority leader, also refused to condemn the Nazi-Democrat comparison.
Arkansas Online (Stephens Media) today reports the story but misses the fact, first pointed out by this blogger, that the “Hitler quote” is in fact a fabrication.
Arkansas News also reports on the story. Author Rob Moritz points out that “not all of the proposals listed by Bell were filed by Democrats. Just two of them actually became law, and one apparently does not exist.” However he also misses the quote fabrication.
So far, this story isn’t media related (although it will be interesting if and how the media report on it – especially the fact that the quote is a fabrication). But it reminds me of a long essay by Paul Greenberg published some time ago in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in which Greenberg wasn’t ashamed to reproduce Nazi propaganda posters in order to smear American labor unions. See, his argument went as “logically” as Bell’s, Nazis expressed concern about workers in their propaganda, therefore anybody who also is concerned about workers’ rights and protections and living standards is really on the side of the Nazis. It doesn’t matter of course for the purposes of Greenberg’s blatant anti-union propaganda that all unions were banned only months after the Nazis took power in Germany in 1933, and that labor leaders were among the first to be murdered or incarcerated in concentration camps. Greenberg must certainly know this. His desecrating the memory of so many labor leaders who sacrificed their lives in resistance to Nazism surely marks the all time low point of Greenberg’s journalistic career.
I cannot link to the article because the ADG archives aren’t publicly accessible but I’d love to document it for posterity as a particularly disgusting example of the viciousness of contemporary right-wing extremism in the United States.