As the health care debate continues, the hyperbole gets even worse. At a recent town hall meeting, a woman asked Barney Frank why he supports a “Nazi” health policy. Frank reacted in a fairly extreme way to this question and made an inquiry about what planet the women spends most of her time.
On one hand, Frank’s reaction was quite reasonable. After all, he is Jewish and to suggest to him that Obama’s health care plan is akin to what the Nazis did would certainly strike a nerve. Further, the comparison between what Obama has proposed and what the Nazis did is an absurd piece of hyperbole and fear mongering. As such, this sort of comparison is wrong in two primary ways. First, it serves to stoke the fires of unreasonable fear in people who apparently do not know any better. This is, of course, why it works-people are not sure what the plan truly involves and are worried. Ignorance plus fear creates an easy breeding grown for even greater fear. Second, such comparisons are demeaning to the people who suffered under and those who fought against Nazism. While there are grounds to criticize the health care plans, it is nothing like Nazism and to make that comparison is both logically flawed (it is a crappy analogy) and morally flawed.
The use of such scare tactics and hyperbole is, of course, rather effective. As noted above, people are worried about health care and it is very complex. As such, fear and ignorance are available as exploitable commodities and the various folks who are against health care are exploiting them as effectively as they can. Of course, this is harmful to America. Rather than discussing the real pluses and minuses of various plans, we are being sidetracked by these absurd sort of comparisons. My thought is that if Obama’s health care plan is truly flawed, then the opponents should be able to show that without resorting to absurd Nazi comparisons, scare tactics and what seem to be outright fabrications.
On the other hand, Frank should be aware that some people are genuinely worried that Obama’s health care plan will really be on par with some sort of Nazi plan. Thanks to irresponsible rumors, there are folks who really and sincerely believe that Obama’s plan includes euthanizing old folks.
While it might seem ridiculous that people need to be told that Obama has no plans to kill grandma and grandpa, the fear is there. As such, the Democrats need to (absurdly enough) address those fears. While the fears might be manufactured, they are now genuine fears and hence worthy of some attention.
It does bother me that there are people who are intentionally generating baseless claims that are wasting our time and distracting us from meaningful discussions of the issues. I have no objection against people being critical of Obama’s policies and, in fact, I encourage that (as Socrates argued, gadflies are good). What I am opposed to are these hateful rumors. Those folks who are against Obama’s plans should be presenting reasoned arguments against them and offering alternatives rather than creating and spreading hateful rumors. These rumors do not do America any good and, in fact, hurt us by creating needless fear and dragging the discourse into absurd realms.
For the folks on the right, my comments also apply to rumor mongers on the left as well. As a specific example, George Bush is no more a Nazi than Obama.
“On the other hand, Frank should be aware that some people are genuinely worried that Obama’s health care plan will really be on par with some sort of Nazi plan.”
I think he is aware that there ‘is’ genuine worry about the plan. He’s conducting town hall meetings, in part, I believe,*,to allay those fears.
I also feel he’s justified in his total lack of respect** for those who make bogus Nazi comparisons and generate and feed mindless fears that then get twisted up with genuine fears in the minds of the curious, the uninformed, and/or the just-plain- gullible. Those half-baked goons are among those who corrupt any discussion that might lead to a real understanding of the issues. Their smoke-and-crap machine is doing a major disservice to those with fears.
*And please don’t post to disagree on this point. I use the words “in part, I believe” because I’m almost certain someone would say he’s doing it for his own political interests, or for the interests of the party, or because he believes in the bill, etc. Yes, anyone/everyone/lots of people know that.
**They’ve got the right to speak their dog**** (I just got caught up in your recent article about ThinkB4YouSpeak Michael–I’ll get over it soon)but we don’t have to respect them.
“I think he is aware that there ‘is’ genuine worry about the plan. He’s conducting town hall meetings, in part, I believe,*,to allay those fears.”
I am sure he does too but he just doesn’t care. This is sort of like when he knew there was a problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but he just denied it.
Patrick Sperry says
While I really think the “Nazi Card” gets used irresponsibly, and way too often. When this first became an issue I thought back to my now deceased Grandmother in law. So, I suppose that this is all anecdotal. In any case, she talked sometimes, about her experiences in Nazi Germany, and about being a Holocaust survivor. She talked about the “health care” that all people, other than the elites, had to take part in. About eugenics, and racial cleansing, and so on.
So, while I do not believe that this health care plan is on a par with the one that the Nazi’s had, it’s very foundation; of universal coverage, does bear a striking resemblance. To deny that would be irresponsible. Using such a system to deny people rights, or needed care in some bizarre twist of triage would be just two things that we must be vigilant about.
Your opening pose of trying to appear objective about how “the ‘Nazi card’ gets used… way too often” just doesn’t convince me.
“. . .it’s very foundation; of universal coverage, does bear a striking resemblance. To deny that would be irresponsible.”
Today nearly all, if not all, industrialized nations run universal health care systems of one variation or another. What specific “striking resemblances” do their plans or Obama’s plan bear to the Nazi plan? You haven’t mentioned any. Until you provide some meaningful striking resemblances, call me irresponsible.
I’d like to know, for instance, what “eugenics” has to do with this debate. Even Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh haven’t, as far as I know, claimed that any of the as-yet-under-consideration bills promotes eugenics. Concerning those so-called<>, I thought we were discussing that voluntary end of life consultation in one version that concerns people who are for the most part w-a-a-y beyond reproductive age. Step up now and be the first to make a false claim about eugenics in Obama’s bill.
“Using such a system to deny people rights, or needed care in some bizarre twist of triage. . .”
Here’s “a bizarre twist of triage”: “pre-existing conditions”. Refusing health insurance to people who seriously need it because they have a condition that will cost too much for the insurance company if it hopes to continue to meet its bottom line and satisfy its shareholders. You’ll find plenty of anecdotal cases on Google if you look. One ex:
Line 13: insert the two words “DEATH PANELS” between the
Barney Frank is a joke that could only be elected in Massachusetts….well, maybe California.
Michael LaBossiere says
“My thought is that if Obama’s health care plan is truly flawed, then the opponents should be able to show that without resorting to absurd Nazi comparisons, scare tactics and what seem to be outright fabrications.”
Exactly, even if it were 100% EXACTLY the same plan the nazis had for their citizens, that shouldn’t be enough to disqualify the idea..
This would be akin to throwing out the consitution altogether because the founding fathers owned slaves.