Reactions to Rush Limbaugh's Obama/Hitler comparison

What could possibly justify a media deluge when an anonymous person does this, but silence when done by Rush?

Published August 7, 2009 2:08PM (EDT)

[updated below (ADL) - Update II (Simon Wiesenthal Center) - Update III]

As I noted yesterday, the comparison of an anonymous person in the 2004 ad contest of Bush to Hitler generated a massive media firestorm for a full week, with all sorts of political figures and organizations vehemently condemning the actions of this anonymous individual.  As a result, I contacted many of those people to ask for their reaction to yesterday's comparison of Obama and Hitler by GOP leader Rush Limbaugh, speaking to his audience of 15 million people.  I'll post any responses I get here.  These are the ones I've received thus far:

National Review's Cliff May:

It is wrong, outrageous and damaging for Rush Limbaugh to compare Obama to Hitler. . . . Such hyperbole only serves to confuse and trivialize issues much more grave than tax rates and health-care plans.

The American Jewish Congress:

The Limbaugh comments comparing Obama ( and Pelosi )to Hitler and the Nazis are grossly offensive and intolerable. They reflect a nasty and hyperbolic tendency on our political culture, one which makes reasoned discourse impossible, confuses disagreement with evil, and which makes it impossible to distinguish evil from ordinary politics. . . . It behooves all participants in the political process to unequivocally disavow the comparison and to make it plain that peddlers of such noxious comparison have no place in our politics, no matter how large their audiences.  And all Americans should make plain their disgust at the comparisons by talk show hosts by a prompt use of the off button.

What could possibly justify a week-long, Scandal of the Month deluge by the major media when an anonymous person on the Internet does this, while ignoring it when the leader of the conservative movement does it to his audience of 15 million?  I'm anxiously awaiting a response from the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, two of the most vociferous attackers of the anonymous Internet user in 2004.


UPDATE:  In response to my inquiry this morning, the Anti-Defamation League just emailed me this new Press Release they just issued:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called attempts by some opponents of health care reform to bring Nazi imagery into the debate, "outrageous, deeply offensive and inappropriate" and condemned remarks by talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who compared President Obama's health care logo to a swastika, and policies championed by the Democratic Party to those of the Nazis.

"Regardless of the political differences and the substantive differences in the debate over health care, the use of Nazi symbolism is outrageous, offensive and inappropriate," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. . . .

In recent days, street protests against President Obama's health care plan have gotten ugly, with some protestors appearing in photographs wearing swastika and SS symbols.

That prompted Rush Limbaugh to remark on his radio program that, "They accuse us of being Nazis, and Obama's got a healthcare logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook." He went on to compare certain Democratic Party policies to those of the Nazis.

It's really amazing -- though not at all surprising -- that when an anonymous Internet user compares Bush to Hitler, the media goes into Full Hysteria Alert, but when the most influential conservative figure in the country does the same thing, they utter barely a peep of recognition.  We'll see if that changes as America's leading Jewish groups -- and even some principled conservatives -- issue rather harsh condemnations of Limbaugh's comments.


UPDATE II:  I just got off the phone with Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  He made clear that he has some "serious objections" to some of Obama's policies -- "especially in the foreign policy context" (read: Israel) -- but was nonetheless scathing in his condemnation of Rush Limbaugh.  Limbaugh's comments are "shameful," "beyond the pale," and "unworthy of Americans."  He said that to compare Obama's health care package to Nazi programs, or to compare Obama to Hitler, is to "demean ourselves"; that efforts to compare Obama's health care logo to Nazi logos are "preposterous" and "offensive"; and that Limbaugh's monologue in particular was "really disgraceful" and "shameful." 


UPDATE III:  ABC News' Jake Tapper has an article entitled "Jewish Groups Assail Nazi Comparisons Made by Conservatives in Health Care Debate," reporting that "the ADL’s Foxman specifically said cited Limbaugh’s comparison as offensive."  As Tapper was one of those who reported on the MoveOn ad contest "scandal" on television, it remains to be seen whether this will be treated with as much importance.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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