Calling Someone Hitler Is Calling Someone Hitler No Matter How You Frame It

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, October 11, 2013 13:33 EDT
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Rep. Brenda Barton YouTube
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As hard it may be for conservative leaders to accept, there are some situations you just can’t lie your way out of. (See: Akin, Todd.) Sometimes there’s a single, solitary interpretation of an event and no amount of dissembling, deflection, or outright bullshit will convince people otherwise. (See: Republicans trying to blame Obama for the shutdown.) Sure, the true believers will say they buy your excuses, but they’re just trying to help a fellow wingnut out.

Arizona state representative Brenda Barton is in one of those situations. She’s trying to say she wasn’t comparing President Obama to Hitler when she posted this on Facebook:

There’s so much wingnuttery to unpack there, but let’s stick to the part where Barton, being a conservative, thought she could lie her way out of what happened next. Which is that people said, “Man, that is fucked up comparing the President to Hitler, and not just because it’s a violation of Godwin’s law, but also because you’re a white person and the President is one of the people that the actual Hitler said belonged to an inferior race.”

Every wingnut thinks everyone else is a sucker, so Barton figured this whopper would get the heat off:

What I did suggest, rather directly, was that the National Park Service enforcement personnel (referring to them as “thugs” for their reported behavior) were simply following orders of “their leader” – and I used the German phrase for emphasis, Der Fuhrer. I am referencing the Presidents behavior as indicated by his actions. The Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary defines “Fuhrer” as “(2) a leader exercising tyrannical authority.”

Frankly, as someone that Barton is trying to bullshit here, I am insulted at this weak-ass excuse. If one is looking up a synonym for “tyrannical authority”, one does not just flip through the dictionary until your tired eyes spot that phrase in a definition. You use a thesaurus and look up “tyrant”. Everyone knows that.

There were so many other good ways to bullshit on this, too! You might have said, “Well, ‘fuhrer’ is German for ‘leader’, and all I was saying is Obama is the leader!” Of course, actual Germans have dropped “fuhrer” for “leiter” because “fuhrer” singularly stands for Hitler now. So that’s a dead end.

More to the point, she went ahead with the “Obama is Hitler” thing the first time she was confronted with this:

But in a telephone interview with the Arizona Capitol Times, Barton stood by the comments, saying the comparison between Obama and Hitler was apt, at least in their style of leadership.

“He’s dictating beyond his authority,” she said.

Barton said Obama is leading America down a slippery slope away from a constitutional democracy toward an imperial dictatorship and the people of America should be aware. She said murdering millions of Jews, gypsies and gays wasn’t the only thing that happened in Nazi Germany, and America under Obama is looking a lot like the early days of Germany under Hitler.

“It’s not just the death camps. (Hitler) started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people,” she said.

There’s no way to soft pedal this: The right wing fanatics in this country have started to convince themselves Obama and his “thugs” are genocidal maniacs who intend to wipe out white Christians like Hitler tried to wipe out the Jews. The fear that the federal government is coming for them went up during the Clinton years, but the racial component is just making things worse this time around.

Of course, if they really believe that’s going to happen, then behavior like Barton’s or the right wing radio show hosts who allude to this conspiracy theory without saying it outright is downright immoral. If you know that there’s an impending genocide, talking about elliptically because you’re afraid of political blowback is immoral and cowardly. So either Barton and her ilk are immoral cowards or they, on some level, know that they’re just making shit up to stoke racial animosity. Which it is I leave entirely to the reader.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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