Enough with the Nazi comparisons

Enough with the Nazi comparisons

As the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor, I am always angered and saddened when confronted with comparisons of modern day organizations to the Nazi Party. Jim Donovan’s and Tim Pickwell’s use of Nazi imagery to hyperbolize opposition to bans against public smoking and plastic bags is both reckless and dangerous. Mike Hayutin’s use of that same imagery to protest taxation in American is also shameful.

In that spirit we should liken Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to ban large fountain drinks in New York City to Kim Jon Un’s efforts to starve North Koreans. Or maybe we should draw a clear red line around the bird droppings in La Jolla Cove and liken the emanating stench to the chemical weapons used by Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

Dare I compare 9/11 or Pearl Harbor to something in such fashion? No, such suffering is incomparable. The significance of those events mustn’t be diminished that way. And neither should the suffering endured by millions during World War II.

Today, we Americans cannot reasonably fear that anything resembling Nazi Germany will ever happen here. The many reasons for this should be self-evident to all. The Weimar Republic was doomed to failure from its inception and should never be used as an example of how good or bad democratic governance can give way to extremism. Local politicians can be many things, but maniacal and monstrous cult leaders they are not. Americans in general are also many things, but we do not harbor such bloodthirsty and murderous tendencies as those Europeans that would eventually join the Nazi party and require little, if any, convincing that they should mercilessly kill as many of their innocent neighbors as they could in the most terrifying and grotesque ways possible. Most importantly, our collective nature is to respect the rights of others, both native born and immigrant. Europe then had no such nature, and in some places, frankly, they still don’t.

Those such as Messrs. Donovan and Pickwell who believe they know enough about German history and the rise of Adolf Hitler to suggest that incremental and innocuous moves by government to “come for my plastic bags” augur the establishment of a Fourth Reich in Solana Beach, and that there’s no one left to speak for them, would do well to spend more time learning details of history and less time parroting sound bites. No one left to speak for them? Do they also believe that “Welcome to Solana Beach” should be replaced with “Arbeit Macht Frei”? Rest assured that if “they” should ever actually come for us, the honorable United States armed forces will be here to do more than just speak up. They will fight for us.

The German citizen Mr. Donovan quotes and Mr. Pickwell alludes to was Pastor Martin Niemöller, and the poem referenced is titled “First they came…” Niemöller spent eight years in Sachsenhausen and Dachau for opposing the Nazis’ state control of churches despite being an early supporter of Hitler. After the war, he became an ardent pacifist. My guess is he’d be sadly disappointed if he knew his words were invoked for the purpose of complaining about being charged 10 cents for paper bags.

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