Note to Readers: Going against the grain of most of the Orthodox community, I’ve never been enamored of the Catskills – to put it mildly. “The mountains” give me the creeps; it’s a deep-bred animosity that just won’t go away. I’m a city boy through and through.
I write about this character trait (or flaw, depending on one’s perspective) in some detail for Tablet magazine (www.tabletmag.com), which used to be Nextbook and has been thoroughly revamped and improved under the leadership of former Forward culture editor Alana Newhouse. My piece, “Hot Town,” can be found at www.tabletmag.com/life-and-religion/12897/hot-town/ – and while you’re over at Tablet check out some of the other fine articles on Jewish life and culture.
And don’t neglect the archives – you’ll find a treasure trove of older pieces there. Mark Oppenheimer’s recent multi-part series on Holocaust deniers (www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/7264/the-denial-twist/) is a particularly fascinating read. And Adam Kirsch’s book reviews are always erudite and informative – he actually discusses the titles he’s reviewing, unlike all too many reviewers who want to dazzle you with their knowledge of the subject at hand and barely touch on the merits or demerits of the book itself. His recent evisceration of Rich Cohen’s execrable “Israel Is Real” (www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/books/12575/disengagement/) is criticism at its best.
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So Democrats are all in a tizzy over Rush Limbaugh’s over-the-top remarks about how their party’s policies bear some resemblance to Hitler’s Nazis. It would, of course, be so much easier to take their supposed angst seriously had they not, over the past couple of decades, made Nazi-Republican comparisons a specialty.
Back in 2003, Byron York chronicled for National Review some of the Bushphobia found on the Left, noting that “A staple of Bush-hating is the portrayal of the president as a Nazi. That has, of course, been a prominent part of other attacks against other presidents, but today it seems to be deployed with particular aggressiveness against Bush.
“There are thousands of references, across the vastness of the Internet, linking Bush to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Do you want to buy a T-shirt with a swastika replacing the “s” in Bush? No problem. Do you want to collect images of Bush in a German army uniform, with a Hitler mustache Photoshopped onto his face? That’s easy. Do you want to find pictures of Dick Cheney and Tom Ridge and Ari Fleischer dressed as Bush’s Nazi henchmen? That’s easy, too.”
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has noted in several columns how “Republicans were almost routinely associated with Nazi Germany.” Former vice president Al Gore, Jacoby pointed out, had characterized Republican activists as “brown shirts.” Hugh Pearson, a Newsday columnist, beheld the 2004 Republican National Convention and was reminded of “Nazi rallies held in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler.” Singer Linda Ronstadt reflected on the election results and lamented that “we’ve got a new bunch of Hitlers.”
Tarring Republicans with the “Nazi” or “racist” label is, of course, old hat for liberal Democrats. Here’s Harlem congressman Charles Rangel, one of the more accomplished name-callers on Capitol Hill, responding in the mid-90’s to a Republican tax-cutting initiative: “It’s about race and a certain costume change. Where once it was the sheets and hoods of the Klan, it’s now the black suits and red ties of conservative politicians. It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘nigger’ anymore. They say, ‘Let’s cut taxes.’ ”
Here’s Rangel again, referring to the Republicans’ 1994 Contract With America: “When I compare this to what happened in Germany, I hope you see the similarities to what is happening to us.”
And Rangel yet again, this time in 1998: “[Republicans] are afraid to come out from under their hoods and attack us directly.”
Back in the mid-1990s, with Republicans in ascendance in Congress and evangelical Christians flexing their political muscle, the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered a typically ignorant broadside: “The Christian Coalition was a strong force in Germany,” he said, revealing he knew absolutely nothing about the Christian Coalition or about Germany.
Even further back, CBS reporter Daniel Schorr, attempting to tie 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater to Nazis, went on the air and told America that Goldwater would officially open his campaign in “Hitler’s stomping ground … Bavaria, the center of Germany’s right wing.” (In reality, Goldwater had accepted an invitation to visit a U.S. Army base in Germany.)
And these are the people complaining about Limbaugh’s inane remarks?
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org