Auschwitz Should Not Be Used as a Right-Wing Political Tool

More than half a million people were believed to have died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz — the majority of them Jewish — making the Holocaust one of the biggest global tragedies in history. For most people, that would bring about a sense of gravity and respect in deference to the horrors that occurred on the site. Instead, one Louisiana congressman used it as a backdrop for a political speech on patriotism.

Louisiana Republican Congressman Clay Higgins chose this somber location as the perfect opportunity to record a video, which he then posted to a social media account.

“‘A great sense of dread comes over you in this place,” Higgins says, leading the viewer on a five-minute, nine-second tour of the site, with a dirge-like solo violin playing in the background,” NOLA.com reports.  “‘Man’s inhumanity to man can be quite shocking.’”

The GOP congressman then proclaimed the site as an example of “why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible,” a disturbingly militarist take on the deaths of millions of people.

But Higgins is far from the only conservative to use the Holocaust as a rightwing rallying cry.

For decades anti-abortion activists have compared legal abortion to the Holocaust, and recently the president’s own press secretary tried – and spectacularly failed –  to compare Syrian President Assad to Adolf Hitler. Inappropriate Holocaust comparisons only bring about outrage and anger, yet despite that fact, conservative lawmakers seem to go further with their offensive appropriations of the event every day.

This time the immediate blowback came from those at the memorial site itself.

“The Auschwitz Memorial’s official Twitter account said ‘there should be mournful silence’ inside the gas chamber,” reports Roll Call. “‘Everyone has the right to personal reflections. However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage.’”

Activists and historians agreed. “Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, released a statement saying, ‘Auschwitz is not a television studio,’” The Washington Post reports. “‘It is the site of genocide and tragedy for the Jewish people that you have disrespected,’ Goldstein said. ‘Not only must you apologize, but you must also get the sensitivity training appropriate for your continued service in the U.S. Congress.’”

Sadly, in the age of President Trump, this sort of disrespect is a daily occurrence. Anti-Semitic vandalism and harassment saw a dramatic uptick in the period just after President Trump was sworn into office, including bomb threats, cemetery vandalism and graffiti.

The problem isn’t going away, either. At the end of June an elementary school was vandalized with messages referencing Adolf Hitler on its walls, and on July 2, an anti-Semitic banner was found unfurled at a New Jersey Holocaust memorial.

“Photos posted online Sunday by the state chapter of the Anti-Defamation League show the covering on the memorial in Lakewood,” CBS reports. “A message on the covering included an ethnic slur for Jewish people and stated they ‘will not divide us,’ along with the name of a group supposedly responsible for the covering.”

The vandalism is believed to reference a local news story regarding a handful of Jewish people allegedly involved in a welfare crime, but it still makes clear that slurs, vandalism and desecration are considered acceptable forms of protest.

And then of course there are the hundreds of anti-Semitic, pro-Trump internet trolls making memes that claim all media is “fake” and a Jewish conspiracy.

Reporting on a user who created a video that showed the president body slamming a CNN logo, Business Insider writes: HanA–holeSolo’s post shined a spotlight into an often dark corner of Reddit, where racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic posts are common. The user’s history is rife with examples. He posted a graphic in June featuring numerous CNN employees on a chart with the Jewish Star of David next to their heads. It was titled ‘Something strange about CNN…can’t quite put my finger on it.’

Sadly, the pattern grows more obvious each day. Conservatives clearly love using the message of the Holocaust to further their own political agendas, but otherwise seem numb to  – or actively engaged in — anti-Semitism. So for all of the Republicans out there who still don’t get it:  Never use the Holocaust as a backdrop for your political talking points.

photo credit: Thinkstock

75 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 months ago

This article was unfair. The right is NOT anti-Semitic and neither Trump nor are his supporters are Nazis. This is just the left trying to divide this country even more than have been already. A lot of people will never be able to go to Auschwitz or Dachau, it is perfectly reasonable to try to show people what the Nazis really did to those they did not like (mainly Jews, but there were a lot of others who were not). We need to come back together as the great country that we are!

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JT Smith
JT Smith4 months ago

Isn't amazing how those who claim to be pro-life and compare legalized abortion to horrors like Auschwitz are also typically the same people who are for the death penalty, not only worship the American military but push for and endorse every military invasion and occupation regardless of the loss of non-American lives, and do everything they can to eliminate the social safety net in America?

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE5 months ago

Thank you

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei5 months ago

Everyone,

Notice how both Donn M. and David F. carry out their constant apologetics for the unending malignancy of THEIR OWN PARTY?

The posts of neither one addressed the topic of the story itself, and instead DEFLECTED to rants about [D]s and other posters on here.

Their entire sophomoric approach is based on the assumption that the rest of us are every bit as intellectually disabled as they are.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei5 months ago

Donn M. opines: "A few creepies voting for any candidate does not make any party a "private club of creepy bastards.""

But a lot of people from a political party voting for a candidate who revels in his own rightwing, nazi-like personality-cult of creepiness **DOES** make the [R] party "a private club of creepy bastards"....or as Hillary quite accurately called it: a club of "deplorables".

There is no question about that FACT.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei5 months ago

"Auschwitz Should Not Be Used as a Right-Wing Political Tool"

No, it really shouldn't.

But, on the other hand, aren't we happy that [R]s are so stupid that they happily advertise their malignancy by doing so?

I know of no better purpose for remembering Auschwitz than to ensure that what it represents never happens again. And there is no better way of ensuring that than to have the malignant a$$holes who worship prejudice and religious conflict proudly identify themselves and openly advertise their goals to the rest of us.

Don't you agree David F.?

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Karen H
Karen H5 months ago

How would Higgins like it if someone made a similar speech where Jesus walked or was crucified or allegedly rose from the dead? Would he be furious? Would he call it sacrilegious? Would he demand a sincere apology? David F, Trump wasn't all that hot about religion either till he realized the Evangelicals could help him get elected.

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Roberta G
Roberta G5 months ago

David F....Successful negotiations? Seems to me the trump was rather isolated and ignored at the G-20. He also seemed not to know which way to turn his chair! Did anyone else see that video clip?

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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