What an opportune day for Kurt Eichenwald at Vanity Fair to torch the politicians and commentators who analogize anything they disagree with to Hitler and the Nazis.
As you might know from Laura Clawson's posting today, another billionaire - Ken Langone of Home Depot - compared criticisms of the rich to Nazi Germany. This is one of the more obscene habits of these people that has emerged.
Well, Eichenwald has finally said everything that needs to be said. I'm a big fan of his because he is never afraid to take a flame-thrower to those whose actions and words deserve it. This time, his target could not be more deserving. Read on to learn more.
Other than the headline, Eichenwald's piece gives no mention to what it is about until many paragraphs down. Until then, he is depicting the impact of the Holocaust on a variety of people: Sochi Piaskovski, a 13 year old boy who was killed at Treblinka; his brother Jakub who was the only surviving member of his family and suffered from survivor's guilt; Antosz Kaminska, who tore a gold-filled tooth out of his mouth and paid it to a camp guard to purchase more rations for his sickly brother, only to die himself when the removal of the tooth caused an infection; Stella Hadra, who lost her whole family while escaping with her husband Ernst and their children; and on and on. Then, he reveals these were all members of Eichenwald's family.
He then depicts the impact on them:
The Holocaust never left my in-laws. It hung like a cloud of incomprehensible horror, darkening their lives until they both died a few years ago, in their 90s. My grandmother never spoke of her family or her Judaism. As instructed by Ernst, my father never mentioned his religious heritage for years; I only learned of my Jewish ancestry when I was in my 20s, on Christmas Day, no less. Ernst had gone from a wealthy man in Germany to someone who had to start all over again working in someone else’s textile company in New York. These were people who lost everything, whose loved ones were ripped away from them and murdered in the most horrific ways, whose bodies disappeared into the fires of the Holocaust, who never fully recovered from the incomprehensible brutality that descended, unbidden and unexpected, onto their lives.By that point, you are feeling a morning sadness for all the pain that hit so many people. At which point, the piece changes gears:
It is hard to fully comprehend the magnitude of the Nazi death camps and their impact on the lives of untold millions. But, even so, there are a few things I can say for certain: the Nazis, and the Holocaust they brought were nothing like Obamacare. Or the national debt. Or political correctness. Or criticism of economic inequality. Or the Tea Party. Or the Internal Revenue Service. Or the Obama administration. Or the Bush administration. Or any of the other masses of infinitesimal flotsam spewed up in self-pitying and hysterical analogies by vulgarians with more mouth than brain.And then the sledgehammer comes out - Eichenwald attacks Ben Carson, Tom Perkins, Ted Nugent, Ted Cruz and an endless stream of other conservatives who use the Holocaust for their own political points, each time comparing what they are talking about to the suffering of his family. He doesn't let democrats off the hook either, and points out several instances when they used the analogy. However, it is clear that he was struggling to find people who did it - the only two real politicians or commentators he refers to are Robert Kennedy Jr. and Robert Byrd. All the others (Linda Rondstat?) seem like he's reaching. But still, democrat or not, he is right that whoever uses this analogy is horrible.
And, damn it, how dare so many of you politicians and political commentators and entertainers spit on the ashes of the earth containing the bodies of millions of the slaughtered, by making such asinine comparisons. How dare you belittle unspeakable suffering, how dare you brush aside the emotional torment of survivors, how dare you feed into the Holocaust denialism by pretending that some difference in political opinions is just as bad as the literal torture and destruction of millions of families.
How dare you?
Then, apparently with all the rage he can muster, Eichenwald goes after all of them:
These are small people who wish they were more. They like to see themselves as fearless resistance fighters, or brave humanitarians like Raoul Wallenberg or Oskar Schindler who placed their own lives at risk to save Jews. They feel the need to portray themselves as tough, swashbuckling champions of right, standing astride the waves of history as they fight back encroaching evil. But they are none of these things. They are soft-skinned, well fed, and snug, pontificating from air-conditioned studios as piles of uneaten snacks grow stale on nearby tables.I can't quote anymore without violating Fair Use. But, go take a read. It's something everyone should.