Tea Party protest sign compares health reform to Holocaust

UPDATE: In a scene Roll Call described as "pandemonium," police arrested a dozen Tea Party protesters outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office Thursday, in the midst of a Capitol Hill protest against the Democrats' health care reform.

The arrests took place outside Pelosi's office for district business, not her main congressional office. Christina Bellantoni at TalkingPointsMemo reports that protesters heckled the police vans as they pulled away with the arrested protesters, who were charged with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

Protesters shouted "Let them go!" and one woman reportedly said, "This is America, this is not the Soviet Union."

Bellantoni reported that rumors spread that the protesters were arrested for praying, or for tearing up pages of the proposed health care bill.

"The speaker's staff said those arrested were objecting to language in the health care overhaul that they said would allow federally subsidized abortions," the Associated Press reported.


Among the protesters at Thursday's rally was John Ratzenberger, the actor who played Cliff Clavin on the sitcom Cheers.

"These are Woodstock Democrats," CNN quoted Ratzenberger as saying at the rally. "We have to remember where their philosophy comes from. It doesn't come from America. It comes from overseas. It comes from socialism. And socialism is a philosophy of failure."

Matthew DeLong at the Washington Independent reported that Americans for Prosperity, a corporate-funded group that opposes the proposed health care reforms, arranged for 40 buses to ship people to the protests.


A "Tea Party" rally against health care reform on Capitol Hill Thursday featured a sign that compared health care reform efforts to the Nazi Holocaust.

Numerous Republican congresspeople attended the event that was principally organized by Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, among them House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), according to Eric Kleefeld at TalkingPointsMemo.

"National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany -- 1945," read a sign that ThinkProgress' Lee Fang captured on camera. The image appears to show dead bodies from the Nazi holocaust piled one on top of another.

Blogger Matthew Yglesias commented: "There are all kinds of nutty people in the world, but these kinds of things are the wages of a conservative leadership and media that’s consistently tried to drum up opposition to health care reform not by opposing things that are actually in the bill, but with demagogic opposition to completely fabricated provisions."

Progressive bloggers and watchdogs are linking the sign to conservative media voices who in the past have made comparisons between President Barack Obama's health care reform agenda to "fascism" or Nazi Germany.

"Fox News owns this sign," trumpeted Matt Gertz at the media watchdog site MediaMatters.

"If Republicans wonder why most Americans view them as part of the fringe extreme, they need not look beyond this event," quipped Jed Lewison at DailyKos.

MediaMatters has filed a series of reports suggesting that Fox News worked overtime to promote the protest. The group counted nine cases of Fox personalities "promoting" the protest since October 30. The group also noted that Fox News streamed the protest live on its Web site.