NRO writer: Obama community service plan like concentration camps

Posting at one of the National Review's blogs, John Derbyshire invokes both the Nazis and Soviet forced labor in discussing Obama's proposals.

Published November 7, 2008 11:23PM (EST)

On Friday, over at the Corner, one of the National Review's blogs, John Derbyshire was writing about Barack Obama's plans to expand community service in the U.S. But he chose a rather interesting title for his posts about the proposals: "Arbeit Macht Frei," a German slogan that adorned the gates to several of the Nazis' concentration camps, most notably the main camp at Auschwitz. With a link to this Wikipedia page, Derbyshire also compared the plan to the Soviets' use of forced labor.

I suppose he thought this was a joke, and I like to think I'm not humorless. But seriously: not funny, especially given that this idea that community service somehow equals forced labor when it's Obama's plan has been going around the right.

For some perspective, here's the specific proposal Derbyshire was talking about:

President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.

 (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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