Friday, November 6, 2009

Using Holocaust Victims for Political Gain

I think most sensible people would agree that nothing today should even be remotely compared to the horrific time in human history that was the Holocaust. That was an event that has gone down in history as the most horrible act ever committed by a member of the human race. The cold, calculated genocide of millions of Jews through organized, brutal means should never be invoked in vain, especially for the sake of politics. No matter your party affiliation or ideology, I believe most Americans are united in the belief that the Holocaust was a horrible memory for the world, and that while victims must be remembered and honored, that period in time is best left alone out of respect for the families of those massacred.

However, the teabaggers who stormed Washington yesterday, as well as house Republican leaders, apparently feel different than the rest of us with a sense of decency for our fellow human beings. For those of you unfamiliar with what happened, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) yesterday hosted a Tea Party protest of the House health care bill. As per usual, corporate Astroturf (fake grassroots) groups organized the event and bussed in protesters from all over the East Coast. Americans for Prosperity, an outpost of Dick Armey's FreedomWorks (former Republican leader in the house) was key in organizing the event through their website, Yes, that is a real website. Yes, it is sponsored proudly by current and former Republican leaders.

This is the same group that organized the town hall mobs in August, paid to transport protesters and even wrote a memo instructing attendees how to best disrupt dialogue and meaningful conversation. Right-wing money interests feel very threatened by actually having to compete should health care reform pass, so they've been working hard all year to spread lies and sow the seeds of fear and hate amongst the weak-minded.

Also, people should know that those who attended this protest, who came to speak out against the ineffectiveness of government programs, used public transportation to arrive at the nation's capitol. This protest was also deemed a "press conference," although no such conference took place. It was an event organized by government officials, held on government property, with permission of government entities. There were even five people at the rally who received government-sponsored emergency health care.

People should also know that while crowds chanted "kill the bill," and proudly wasted plenty of paper, not once did anyone offer any valid alternatives to health care reform, despite reluctantly acknowledging that our health care system leaves much to be desired. Once again, this proves without a doubt that today's conservative movement is full of hot air, little organization and poor leadership.

But all hypocrisy, corporate whoring and contrived populism aside, there was one thing yesterday that crossed the line entirely.

Protesters proudly carried posters depicting emaciated bodies of Dachau concentration camp victims during the Holocaust. The words on the poster say "National Socialist Health Care- Dachau, Germany 1945."

The congressmen and congresswomen who organized and spoke at the event, and who did not publicly denounce the heinous, vile use of death camp corpses owe us all an apology for not immediately condemning this behavior. America is waiting for an apology from House Minority Leader John Boehner and Representative Michelle Bachmann for not speaking out against the use of such atrocities for such petty, vain reasons. Speech should remain free, but invoking the Holocaust and trivializing the murder of millions for mere political gain should never be allowed. Congressman Steve Israel has publicly demanded an apology on the behalf of all Americans offended by this display.

So where do teabaggers draw the line at common decency? When will our national political discourse be returned to a sensible, logical dialogue? When will Republican, teabagger, and Astroturf figures apologize for their insensitivity and brutishness?

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