Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Heil Obama?

In “Jesus for President,” the previous posting on this blog, I mentioned that in 2008 some people saw Barack Obama as a type of messiah. However, there now seems to be far more on the Internet, and in the mass media, that demonizes the President.
Recently, I have seen numerous comparisons of the President to Hitler, and there are websites, and bumper stickers, that say Heil Obama! (Just Google “Heil Obama” and see all the websites that come up, or search for images with the same name and see the great variety that appear.)
In July 2010 the North Iowa branch of the Tea Party erected a billboard comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. (That billboard was shown on one of the objectionable e-mails I wrote about on my blog posting for July 15.) The billboard in question was removed in a week because of the strong protests it, deservedly, elicited.
Now the End Begins is the name of a website, created in 2010, and of a Facebook account, which has nearly 31,000 “likes.” (I referred to that apocalyptic website on June 25; the collage picture on their homepage refers to the upcoming election as one with “the Muslim vs. the Mormon.”) A fairly recent posting on that website is titled “Similarities Between Obama And Hitler: A Factual Comparison.” (That webpage claims that it has been shared over 5,000 times.)
In April of this year Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky (b. 1947) of Peoria, IL, compared the President’s policies to those of Hitler and Stalin. In spite of a petition signed by more than 23,000 people calling for an apology, none seems to have been made to this point.
Earlier this month, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (b. 1948), in criticizing President Obama’s health care overhaul, described the Internal Revenue Service as the “new Gestapo”. He later issued a formal apology.
Much of the President’s most criticized activity, however, is quite the opposite of Hitler’s policies. Hitler, as is widely known, sought to purify Germany by getting rid of non-Aryans. President Obama has forwarded an inclusivist position, reaching out to embrace people not a part of the “mainstream.”
Last month the President eased enforcement of US immigration laws so young illegal immigrants can remain in the country to work and study without fear of deportation. That directive by the President was vociferously criticized by the political Right. Glenn Beck, for example, said Obama’s decision simply shows that the President is in true violation of the constitution. But be that as it may, it was certainly not an act seeking to keep the dominant ethnic group pure.
Hitler sought to keep the Aryan race pure by means of euthanasia. He issued such an order (T4) in 1939, and around 200,000 people who were mentally defective, severely handicapped, and incurably insane or sick were subsequently put to death. By contrast, “Obamacare,” so much maligned by the Right, seeks to provide insurance coverage to the tens of millions with no insurance coverage and to keep insurance companies for exempting people with pre-existing conditions.
Moreover, while there was persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany under Hitler, Obama is strongly criticized by some of the same people who compare him to Hitler for advocating repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” his lack of enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, and his support of same-sex marriage.
It is legitimate for people to disagree with and oppose the President, if they are so inclined. It is not at all legitimate to compare him with Hitler in doing so.


  1. Somehow, Leroy, I don't think your rational and empirical response to the campaign by the right-wing nuts to paint Obama as Hitler will mean anything to them. However, if those websites you've identified permit comment, I'd encourage you to paste your column there and see what feedback you receive.

    1. I'm sure you are right, Anton, in saying that what I have written isn't going to change the extremists on the Right. But I am not inclined to try to post my views on their websites.

      I do hope, though, that what I have written might help some people who tend to be anti-Obama (some people that I know and some that you probably know too) to see the ridiculousness of the charges that he is like Hitler.

      In many ways I am not as bothered by the "right-wing nuts" as I am by the many "normal" people who ideas are skewed by such "nuts."

  2. From my esteemed Thinking Friend in Kentucky who regularly comments:

    "Thank you, Leroy! To compare Obama with Hitler surely raises some question about the state of our society today with the prevalence of extremist groups in it."

  3. I did not know this was going on, but I am not surprised. It seems that people will even make things up to get what they want. It is just amazing to me that the Christian right have such conflicting ideas of just what it means to be a Christian. I, unfortunately, have this experience with my own family members. They do not forgive, but this seems to be "Christian" to them!

  4. One of my Facebook "friends" posted a picture this morning of the Aurora killer and the President side by side. He then posted this comment: "One is doing the same thing to America only slower."

    The one who did that regularly writes about his Christian faith and his belief in Jesus.

  5. Even under the best of circumstances, it is easy for friends to get stuck disagreeing over "nothing." It is not always so easy to get past "nothing" to the real something. Now step back and think about the problem of communication in competitive political discourse. At best, misunderstanding and confusion abound. Frequently the situation escalates to evasion, misdirection and outright falsehood. One of the forms this takes is emotionally charged language that is designed to cripple thinking, not facilitate it. One of the most powerful sources of these emotionally charged mental weapons is the holocaust, and what is readily associated with it.

    The holocaust has been so repeatedly and flagrantly abused in political discourse that it has lead to protests from Jewish groups and their supporters. For instance, when abortion is compared to the holocaust, it leads to a lot of heat on all sides, but little light. And so it is when a close stand-in for the holocaust is referenced, such as comparing President Obama to Hitler. Great emotion is summoned, and rational discourse is shut down. And the memory of the holocaust is cheapened, just so a temporary political advantage can be gained.

    And it is gained. How many times do we hear people saying they are so turned off by politics that they are refusing to participate? Well, how many of those people have also heard that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing? There are those who prosper in this toxic environment, and they know who they are. So they foment it even more.

    For the rest of us, "Success is the Best Revenge" is more than an old movie title. We need to do the hard work of cutting through the layers of propaganda to find what various candidates and parties stand for, and to make informed decisions as to who will be best, or at least, least bad, if elected. It means coming to a general philosophy of how the system works, so as to have a basis for evaluating competing claims.

    Hundreds of millions and maybe even billions of dollars are being spent to sway the vote. If this seems to have more to do with selling soap than charting a course for the country, well, there is a reason for that. Even as we have our bull detectors on high alert, we also need to be open to new understanding. We just need to remember, as this election worries about Wall Street and Main Street, that Madison Avenue is not in the business of selling truth. It is just in the business of selling. Finding the truth is our job.

  6. I tend to agree with Bishop Jenky, given that Barak Obama has "stayed the course" laid by his war-criminal-fraud-president predecessor GW Bush.

    My question is, does the Bishop also compare George W. Bush to Hitler, given such factors as 1.banker-grandfather Prescott Bush's role in financing Hitler, 2.G.W. Bush's 8 years in the Whitehouse after 2 fraud election/erections (Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004) and 3.patently Hitleresque claims of "freedom, democracy, progress and Christianity" to justify crimes against (darker-hued) humanity and 4.similarities between the scapegoat-producing false flag/fake "terrorist" events of Reichstag Fire and 9/11?

    If yes, he is apparently free of America's bipolarized pseudo-politics and I would like to know more of what he has to say. If no, then the Bishop is engaging in partisan politics; not history, not morality, not Christianity. I.e. he's just another hypocrite in priest's clothing, just like the many Catholic Bishops and Protestant clergy who peddled Hitler's lies and "Positive Christianity" 3/4 of a century ago.

  7. A local Thinking Friend send this brief, but important, e-mail:

    "Where was your outcry when the Left used to refer to George W. Bush as Hitler? It is a tactic that is deplorable no matter what individual or group employees it."

    My brief response:

    (1) I have written this blog only since July 2009, so President Bush has not been in office during the time I have been writing. I don't think I have made any reference to him at all in this blog. (Although I have said some negative things about the wars in Afghanistan and on Iraq.)

    (2) I do not remember ever seeing, or hearing, any comparison between President Bush and Hitler. (I found by checking Google this morning that there were some in 2005 or 2006.) I do know that some very negative things were said about President Bush, but it certainly doesn't seem to me that those attacks were as many, as vitriolic, or as persistent as the attacks on President Obama. (Does anyone know if there is some sort of objective study comparing "then" and "now"?)

    (3) I certainly agree that vicious attacks are despicable whether they are done from the right or the left. I would call attention again to my 7/15 blog posting in which I called for people to be accurate, fair, and kind in what they say and right.

  8. About an hour ago I received this e-mail message from a Thinking Friend in Tennessee:

    "Leroy, I agree with you completely. President Obama has shown great compassion for the poor and needy in many of his policies. Certainly, the Bible is full of directions that Christians are to be concerned in the same way. Lies are often told about him and his policies, especially the Health Care Law. I wish people would get the facts great!"

  9. I don't have time to open a Google account now, so let me reveal myself. I'm Chris Bradley, a long-time resident of Japan and a friend of Dr. and Mrs. Seat. I appreciate Dr. Seat's thoughtful posts, including this one. The "local Thinking Friend" that Dr. Seat mentions above has a valid point in the sense that a person of any political persuasion who compares any politician on the left, right or center to Hitler is mean-spirited and inaccurate (and Dr. Seat said as much in his rebuttal above). Where I disagree with the poster is that it seemed that with the "where were you" statement, the poster was inaccurately holding Dr. Seat himself to account for some on the left who compared Bush to Hitler. I am left-of-center myself, and am quick to disagree with malicious "Hitler" stereotypings of Bush by some persons on the left, as well as some of the writings of Noam Chomsky, who seemed to be blaming the victims of the 9/11 tasks. However, let me cite Kellerman's book called "What Liberal Media?" in which the author demonstrates with both quantitative and qualitative data that the so-called "lamestream media" in the US does NOT have a liberal bias....if anything, it has leaned toward being conservative, particularly in the wake of 9/11 (and even before that, when W was running for office in 2000) and the onset of the Iraq War

  10. Craig Doeden, whom I first knew when he was a boy in Japan, sent the following comments (and I have apologized to him for not getting them posted sooner):

    "I've seen the posters and find them incredibly offensive and inappropriate. Unfortunately, we in the United States seem to respond only to sound bites. People who don't want you to think throw out a sound bite and expect you to latch onto what that represents...and we don't disappoint them. Makes me sad."