Civil Discourse Now

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"Hoosier Access" misses the boat: Richard Mourdock did compare "the state of affairs in the United States to that of Nazi Germany."

   Outgoing Indiana State Treasurer gave a farewell speech yesterday to the Indiana Republican State Convention. Party leaders probably were too occupied with the battle over nomination of the Republican candidate for Mr. Mourdock’s replacement to consider the prudence of allowing the man who beat Richard Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary access to a microphone. After all, his comments on rape probably doomed his chances in the general election.
   At the blog “Hoosier Access,” Derek Pillie decried those who have criticized Mr. Mourdock for the State Treasurer’s latest gaffe:
   “A minor eruption took place after State Treasurer Richard Mourdock gave a fare-well speech of sorts to the delegates, indicating to them that he would no longer be running for political office.  That wasn’t enough for some link bait journalists at the Indianapolis Star and some folks who are still bothered by his upset of Richard Lugar who chose to equate his comments as equating the state of affairs in the United States to that of Nazi Germany.” (Hoosier Access, 6/7/14.)
   That paragraph is followed by a thanks “to all those who were able to help supply me with information from the floor since I was unable to attend today...”  Id.
   Let us review several important points.
   First: Mr. Pillie was not present at the convention. I was not there, either.
   Second, several sources have printed the same words as having been spoken by Mr. Mourdock. Mr. Pillie simply asserted Mr. Mourdock did not equate the state of affairs in the U.S. today with the state of affairs in Nazi Germany. Here is what Mr. Mourdock is quoted as having said:
   “The people of Germany in a free election selected the Nazi party because they made great promises that appealed to them because they were desperate and destitute. And why is that? Because Germany was bankrupt. The truth is, 70 years later, we are drifting on the tides toward another beachhead and it is the bankruptcy of the United States of America. Over the next several years, every time a program began to fall apart, Mr. Hitler’s party was very, very good at dividing Germany by pointing to this group or that group. First they went after their political opponents. Then they went after the aristocrats. Then they went after trade unionists. And ultimately of course they went after the Jews. They deprived them of their property, their rights, their citizenship, and for millions their humanity. Because they were bankrupt!”
   Third: It would appear equating the state of affairs in the United States today with the state of affairs in Nazi Germany “70 years” ago was the point of Mr. Mourdock’‘s speech. I discern little in the passage to suggest otherwise. Mr. Mourdock said “we are drifting on the tides toward another beachhead.” This was a metaphor as his speech was delivered on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. That beachhead is “the bankruptcy of the United States of America” according to Mr. Mourdock. The Nazis, 70 years ago, were able to do what they did because the people of Germany had elected the Nazis to office because the people of Germany “were desperate and destitite. And why is that? Because Germany was bankrupt!” That phrase was at the beginning of the passage, but a variation is at the end when he concludes the Nazis were able to do what they did because the people of Germany “were bankrupt!”
   Fourth: Mr. Pillie appears either to have been given inaccurate information by those whom he later thanked, or he has chosen to do as the Black Knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The knight’s arm hacked off, he said, “It’s only a flesh wound.”
   Fifth: The historical points Mr. Mourdock raised were somewhat inaccurate. The Nazis went after political “opponents” whenever doing so benefited first Hitler, then the party. Leaders of the S.A., the “brown shirts,” were pals of Hitler, until they became troublesome. They took seriously the notion of “socialism” in the title “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” Also, there were those gay orgies that embarrassed the manly men, such as Heinrich Himmler and Adolf himself, of the Nazi leadership. Hitler hated the aristocrats, but used them while they served a purpose. The Krupp family, however, managed to pull through okay. So did other rich folks who came over to the Nazi cause.
   Sixth: Mr. Mourdock’s statement that “ultimately of course they went after the Jews.” This sounds like, once the Nazis had cleared the table of everyone else, they went after those of the Hebrew faith. In, “The Third Reich in Power,” Richard J. Evans details how Nazi hatred of Jews was carried out from the first days of Hitler’s hold on the office of Chancellor.  (Id., pp. 5, 15, 36.) Hitler’s best-selling work of fiction, “Mein Kampf,” spells out his hatred for those of the Jewish faith.
   Leaders on the Indiana GOP seem to have realized the folly of allowing Mr. Mourdock to speak. Those who wish to deny Mr. Mourdock compared the United States today to Germany 70 years ago serve only to look like the Black Knight. The comparison of the United States today to the Third Reich 70 years ago is another matter to address—as absurd. I at least wanted to address what Mr. Mourdock said.


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