Rep. Steve Cohen’s (D-TN) use of Nazi imagery on the floor of the House of Representatives to describe Republican health care repeal efforts is an example of the polarizing rhetoric the president spoke about just days ago, and has no place in any debate in the halls of government.
This is not, unfortunately, the first time Nazi and Holocaust imagery has been invoked in public discourse. No matter what the political issue is, injecting Nazis, the leader of the Nazi propaganda machine, Joseph Goebbels, and making comparisons to the Holocaust are never acceptable.
No reasonable comparison can ever be made to the genocide that destroyed six million Jews in the Holocaust. Using such imagery undermines a very specific, horrific event in modern history.
During the House debate, Cohen said of the Republicans: “They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels." He added, "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel.” He also added: “The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it, believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover," he said.
The tough issues of the day deserve thoughtful and serious debate. Attempting to link opponents of one’s view to the worst evil man has known is neither productive nor prudent. We hope all members of Congress will view this incident as a learning experience.
B’nai B’rith sent a letter to Cohen expressing concerns in this matter.