Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Obama is Just Like Hitler- Again

I have written before about the current Republican propaganda campaign to paint Obama as a would-be Hitler. This utterly preposterous smear continues unabated, given the lack of any substantive atrocities they can pin on him. Here's another example, a featured article from World Net Daily by one Janet Porter entitled "Austria in the 30's: Mirror to America."

This discussion may be of limited interest to many of my readers; I am satisfying my own interest in this phenomenon by documenting their sordid campaign.

The article primarily consists of the alleged memories of someone named Kitty Werthmann, who "was 12 years old when Adolf Hitler was elected fuhrer of Austria. "

Let us leave aside the wisdom of basing our knowledge of world political affairs on the seventy year old remembrances of a twelve year old. Suffice it to say that Hitler was never "elected" the Fuehrer of Austria or Germany or anywhere else. After the Anschluss, with the German army in charge of Austria, the Germans held a "plebiscite" in which about 99% of the population of Austria "voted" to be absorbed into Germany. Thus, they acquired Hitler as their ruler.

"She witnessed the government take over the banks and the auto industry. Sound familiar?"

Well, not quite. In the first place, Austria's banks and "auto industry" were solvent institutions, not companies facing total collapse without government intervention. Secondly, these companies existed in a foreign country which the Germans had just conquered by force. Now to the facts. Yes, the Reichsbank, the German bank, absorbed Austrian banks. This consisted of seizing the assets of thriving institutions, not paying to prevent those institutions from collapsing in chaos. It's sort of the difference between theft and charity. Not really the same, huh?

Now, as to the Austrian "auto industry." This, in fact, consisted of exactly one company, Steyr-Daimler-Puch. This company also was heavily involved in the manufacture of military equipment. The German conglomerate Vereinigte Industrie-Unternehmungen Aktiengesellschaft began acquiring partial ownership in Steyr-Daimler-Puch after the Anschluss, primarily through the mechanism of capital investment to finance German purchase of military equipment from Steyr-Daimler-Puch; so that, by the middle of World War II, they had acquired effective control of the company. Again, this was a process of absorbing a successful company, not a bailout; and it took place with the full cooperation of the company's owners, who benefited financially from the German orders, and were later, incidentally, enthusiastic employers of slave labor provided by the Germans. When Obama sends slave laborers to build Buicks, lady, get back to me on this one.

"The government takeover of the schools immediately replaced crucifixes with pictures of Hitler and Nazi flags."

Sorry, but I don't remember this happening here. In fact, as I seem to remember, in the United States, Obama could not have the government take over the schools, as the vast majority of them were already run by the government. As for the ones displaying crucifixes, I presume that refers to parochial schools. I must say, I haven't read any news reports yet of Obama ordering the takeover of parochial schools. Maybe I was asleep that day.

"She witnessed the "compulsory youth" service and indoctrination. That sounds a little like Obama's call for "mandatory volunteerism" for America's youth."

Well, maybe it sounds a little like it. Kind of like, "The Nazis had street cleaners and so do governments in America, so we must be Nazis." This kind of reasoning is known as the law of similarity, A.K.A. magic; in other words, "what crazy people believe."

"It is interesting, however, that Obama's speech to the captive audience in the government schools – complete with the essay assignment about how students could help him achieve his political goals – was replaced once the American people got wind of it."

That is a lie, of course, designed to dilute memories of the absurd tantrum conservatives threw at the idea of Obama addressing school children. By the way, I'd be interested in hearing about the similar occasions in late-1930's Germany, when popular opposition led to Hitler changing the content of his speeches. I don't really remember that.

"Werthman's husband saw what his brother faced and left Germany to practice medicine in the United States. Werthmann said, "He marveled at how modern our hospitals were, and how great our medical care is." That's the medical care Obama wants to replace with socialized medicine."

What, the medical care of 1939? I think I'll stick with socialized medicine of 2009.

And by the time this guy moved to America, Hitler's war spending had destroyed most of the social services the government used to provide. A war of aggression instead of domestic spending- now that does sound like America. Just not Obama's America, lady, yours.

"The media was taken over by the government right away," Kitty recalls. "We got free radios and the radio stations were government-run. If you listened to a foreign radio station like the BBC, there was capital punishment," said Werthmann."

Just like Obama does. Listen to the BBC, and they kill you. I see.

"They had Joseph Goebbels; we have Mark Lloyd...."

Oh right. Goebbels, and who? The famous evil propagandist, Mark Lloyd, whose name has become a virtual synonym for hate and destruction?

"While Austria and Germany didn't have a "green movement," Werthmann said relatives living there under the European Union have experienced "a tripling of their energy bills."

You think that might have had something to do with their going to war for five years, and using up all their oil on that? Or do you think it was really because Hitler was so concerned about the environment?

"Werthmann said it took five years for Hitler to rise to a dictatorship"

Which she remembers from 1933, when she was about seven years old. Actually, it took Hitler about three months. See, Obama failed again.

Well, there you go. Obama is just like Hitler in that Obama never did anything that was like what Hitler did. That's the argument, I guess.

Update: By total coincidence, I just came across Kitty Worthmanm's name, on the site Right Wing Watch, where she is identified as: "the head of the South Dakota chapter of the Eagle Forum." That would be Phyllis Schlafly's group. Small world, huh?


Poll P> said...

It never fails to amaze me that the winders make these comparisons, but have such scant knowledge of the actual facts of pre-war German govt. Are they counting on US not to know facts either? If so, they didn't reckon with G.E., who can spell in german.

quietmagpie said...

There has been a lot of well-intentioned education since the end of World War Two about being alert to the behaviors and circumstances that can potentially lead to another Hitler. Orwell's "1984" and (in particular) Max Frisch's "Andorra" come to mind as warning tales of dystopia. And these things have become whispers in the public consciousness, often transmitted without real clarity as to what they were about.
Now along comes Obama, and then all sorts of ingrained prejudices within some segments of the public bubble to the surface. Those half-whispers of well-intentioned education then serve as a false intellectualization of these people's opposition to Obama and what he represents.

The shame of it is... all these warning tales, parables and allegories we've had over the years about Hitlerism and how it arises were deeply connected with how ordinary people react as individuals. With how Joe Everyman can enable tyranny, be seduced by iniquity, turn away from justice.
But these "Obama as Hitler" people missed that message. All they got were the externals of a political bogeyman and they don't examine themselves and where their own fears and hate are coming from.

If I were to take this a step further I would also say the spirit of Hitler lives on the other side of the debate. The unreasoned opposition to Obama is quite reminiscent of Nazi hate-mongering and propaganda. Vilification, assertions of ridiculous and wholly imaginary agenda, insinuations that he really isn't "one of us" ... it all looks sadly, sordidly familiar.

Green Eagle said...


First, I entirely agree with what you have to say, but I think there is more to be seen here. The ideological leaders, like Jonah Goldberg, and the people from Renew America, where this piece was published, know perfectly well that what they are saying is a total lie. This is a carefully constructed falsehood, like so many right wing claims. It is only the followers who are unwittingly falling for it.

Secondly, I want to agree with your last point. Even before the Nazis rose in Germany, the Weimar Republic was subjected to an endless onslaught of right wing smears and lies. This pattern of behavior is absolutely analogous to what we are seeing from the American right today.

Cardinal44 said...

Won't the big ovens add to gloval warming?

Green Eagle said...

Cardinal 44,

Well, sometimes you are just faced with tough choices. Actually, I suspect that the energy it takes to run the ovens is probably a lot less than the energy these people would use in the rest of their lives. See, the Nazis really were environmentalists.

Nameless Cynic said...

Huh. I guess Ms Werthmann's memory isn't as good as she thinks.

"Today Christians ... stand at the head of [this country]... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years." (Adolf Hitler)