Bush plays the Nazi card, June 28, 2004.
Hey, you know what these teapot-contained tempests have in common? In none of them did the person who allegedly compared X to Nazis actually compare X to Nazis. But apparently "Nazi" has joined the rarified ranks of Words That Are So Bad That Just The Sound Of Them Is Offensive Regardless Of Context.
Senator Byrd Compares Republicans To Nazis, March 02, 2005
GOP Senator Compares Democrats To Nazis, May 19, 2005
Senator Durbin Likens American Servicemen To Nazis, June 15, 2005
It's convenient that you no longer have to go through the trouble of actually calling someone a Nazi anymore. All you have to do is say the word "Nazi" and then, sometime in the subsequent 24 hours, mention a person or group of people, and then OMG ARE YOU CALLING ME HITLER??!! Hooray for modern political discourse!
Joseph Biden, D-DE: Some Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee requested more American warships for the Persian Sea and Oman Sea, so I reminded them that those bodies of water are technically 'gulfs' and not 'seas.'"
Or who knows? Maybe it's one of those words that's only offensive when outsiders say it, but okay when used amongst people of the same group. I can see John McCain strutting into a Republican fundraiser and being all, like, "yo, what up my nazis?"
Posted on June 16, 2005 to Politics
XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT FLASH XXXXX
SEN. BIDEN CALLS REPUBLICANS, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, AMERICANS "NAZIS"
"I heart terrorism," we can only assume Biden then muttered under his breath.
BIDEN REFUSES TO APOLOGIZE THAT MEANS HE'S GUILTY P.S. DEAN FULL OF RAGE AND CRAZY DEVELOPING ...
"Maybe it's one of those words that's only offensive when outsiders say it, but okay when used amongst people of the same group. I can see John McCain strutting into a Republican fundraiser and being all, like, "yo, what up my nazis?"
Hee-hee. You got it. But you don't say it all stiff like that. If you are in the know, ya gotta say it cool and casual like "nah-zeh"
(However, I know the current polite usage is "fascistically inclined," but we now prefer "Hitlerites." So call us that or we shall accuse you of insensitivity.)
Not knowing American politics I'm confused as to why the hero of Die Hard was walking into a republican conference and pretending to be a Nazi homeboy. I'm guessing this is so cunning tactic by which to arose the anger of another member of the Gruber family and so save the world again.
(That's right, I made a connection between a German criminal mastermind family and the Nazi party. Get me)
Um, what? In three out of the four examples above, the speaker makes a direct comparison not to Nazism in general but specifically to Hitler, which is arguably worse. (Sort of like the difference between saying "You're like one of those aliens from Aliens!" and "You're like the Queen Mother Alien from Aliens!" The second is far more offensive, don't you think?)
Byrd said eliminating the judicial filibuster was the equivalent of Hitler's abuse of power. He wasn't dancing around the idea at all -- he said it outright. Nor was Santorum circumspect when he said the Democrats' attempt to keep the filibuster was the equivalent of, uh, something Hitler would have done.
Bush gets a probable pass, because while the headline says "Bush plays the Nazi card," I doubt he had a single, solitary thing to do with the ad attributed to him. That was an incredibly stupid campaign ad, and I don't remember Bush getting into a snit and firing people over it, but that's still not quite the same thing as Bush walking up to the microphone and calling his opponent John Hitler.
Of your four examples, Durbin is the politician who least belongs in your list -- he really did use the N-word. Regarding Guantanamo Bay, he read a list of torture techniques being employed down there and then said:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings.
Which is overstating conditions down in Gitmo just a tad, considering the torture techniques he decribes include the playing of loud rap music and keeping the air conditioner on too high. But there's no doubt that it's an unambiguous comparison to the Nazis.
John Stewart made a similar observation on last night's Daily Show. People playing the "Hitler card".
Eric is correct. You can take a listen to Senator Durbin right here. If you listen and I did not tell you it was Senator Durbin you would most certainly believe this must have been said by some left-wing moonbat who hates American servicemen.
By the way, don't forget Al Gore's famous bloggers = digital brownshirts comment.
To properly rephrase the quote in Eric's post:
"If I read this ta you n did not tizzle you tizzle it was an FBI agent describ'n wizzle Americans had done ta pusha in they control, you would mizzle certainly believe this must hizzle been done by Nazis, Soviets in they gulags, or some buggin` regimizzles Pot or motherf**** had no concern fo` human be'n"
Gotta love Gizoogle.com.
I, for one, am glad something has finally replaced "oafish poultroon."
John Stewart totally stole your bit.
This is offtopic from the N-word issue, but I have to take issue with Eric and Duane's characterization of the prisoner treatment at Gitmo, as well as of Durbin's statements.
They're either being disingenuous (i.e. lying) about what they imagine torture to be (and about the content of Durbin's statement), or they have
super-powered blinders on.
Imagine yourself in the situations of the prisoners described below ( excerpt from Durbin's statement, where he is quoting an FBI report ):
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a
detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor,
with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated
on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On
one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and
the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted
detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air
conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the
unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost
unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had
apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night.
On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot,
but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had
been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot
in the fetal position on the tile floor. If I read this to you and
did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans
had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly
believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags,
or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for
human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of
Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
(emphasis added where the transcript "corresponds" to Eric's account)
If someone says that treatment is not torture, it must be because they no longer see the Gitmo prisoners as human beings, but instead they see them as vessels into which to pour their rage and hatred. These people may claim to love America, but they abandoned its ideals a long time ago.
I'll let Durbin's follow-up quote finish up.
June 15, 2005 STATEMENT BY SENATOR DICK DURBIN
“No one, including the White House, can deny that the statement I read on the Senate floor was made by an FBI agent describing the torture of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. That torture was reprehensible and totally inconsistent with the values we hold dear in America. This Administration should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorizing torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure.”
“And I remind the White House the Guantanamo Bay scandal has reached such a level of national embarrassment that Senators from both parties are calling for the closure of that facility.”
shorter eric berlin:
i didn't hit you *that* hard.
I'm not saying the prisoners down there are having fun. And the examples Jdbo mentions are undeniably harsh. But I am still willing to make a distinction between "harsh treatment" and outright "torture," and after you click here, you may be inclined to do the same. (Warning: Not for the weak of stomach.)
Now. Do I like everything that's going on down in Guantanamo? I do not. I do not like the indefinite nature of the detentions, and I do not like the not-quite-criminals-and-not-quite-prisoners-of-war way the detainees are being classified. I'm glad people are talking about these things, and I hope changes occur as a result. But I simply cannot get too worked up about people who were previously firing at our soldiers spending a sleepless night listening to loud music. Should it be going on? I don't know. I don't know the first goddamn thing about retrieving information from a captive enemy soldier who is disinclined to say anything. All I know is that if the practices boldfaced by Jdbo rise to the level of torture, than we need a whole new word to describe what went on under Saddam's regime.
But I simply cannot get too worked up about people who were previously firing at our soldiers spending a sleepless night listening to loud music.
On the other hand, the poor sod whose legs were smashed to bits and who eventually died in custody was a taxi driver whom pretty much everyone probably agrees was picked up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But then again, that was in Afghanistan, not Gitmo, so ha ha joke's on Durbin.
(Side note: This is why Matt can't have nice things.)
But I simply cannot get too worked up about people who were previously firing at our soldiers
I'll reinforce Steve's comment about this - as the rest of that FBI report, and several corroborating reports show - we don't have even a half-way decent method of confirming WHY these prisoners are prisoners. Some of them are likely among the worst fucks on the planet; HOWEVER, it's also really likely that many of them are innocent schmucks turned in by Afghani warlords with scores to settle / looking for a fast informant buck.
That should make all of us really freaking uncomfortable; there's a reason why free societies typically conduct investigations and punishment above board, and why unfree socieities typically don't.
...spending a sleepless night listening to loud music. Should it be going on? I don't know. I don't know the first goddamn thing about retrieving information from a captive enemy soldier who is disinclined to say anything.
Then don't advocate extreme solutions without informing yourself of what its like.
Hire someone to kidnap you for an evening (at random, you won't know when), and chain you down in a sauna with unpleasant music playing extremely loudly at you non-stop.
For extra yucks, hire someone ELSE to stop them, but don't pay them their advance; count on their goodwill that they'll stop the other guy for you.
Helplessness sucks; being physically abused in a helpless situation and having no idea when the abuse will end sucks more.
Good interrogators know that they can helplessness as leverage without actually going as far as the latter.
All I know is that if the practices boldfaced by Jdbo rise to the level of torture, than we need a whole new word to describe what went on under Saddam's regime.
my polite-ish response:
Sure, how about "even worse torture"?
Let's say I break a random stranger's leg with a bat, I've committed the crime of violent assault just as assuredly as if I'd broken every limb and smashed out his teeth. The latter is worse than the former, but either way I've done something very wrong. Full Stop.
It's completely dishonest to play the "we're not AS bad therefore we're A-OK" game here; we Americans have to to live up to our ideals, and that means treating our prisoners they way that we want OUR prisoners to be treated, even when we don't want to.
Sheesh, didn't social conservatives spend much of the 90s attacking social liberals for "defining deviancy down"?
my impolite response:
WTF? Noone's saying that torture by Americans at Gitmo/Abu Ghraib somehow retroactively justifies Saddam's sick regime. What sort of retarded Back to the Future-based fairyland do you live in?
P.S. I have to apologize to Matthew for not letting him have nice things. Pardon the heated rhetoric.