From Charlie Chaplin to the Simpsons, Adolf Hitler has often been a source of humor.
But politicians and other people also use the much-reviled dictator’s reputation to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
Also known as playing the Hitler card.
This happens so frequently that the Anti-Defamation League condemned this type of clichéd political rhetoric:
It has become too common to use comparisons to the Holocaust and Nazi imagery to attack people with opposing views, whether the issue is global warming, immigration or health care. The six million Jewish victims and millions of other victims of Hitler deserve better. Their deaths should not be used for political points or sloganeering. This type of comparison diminishes and trivializes the Holocaust. There is no place for it in civil discussions.
Sadly, that hasn’t stopped people who find themselves in the media spotlight from falling back on the Hitler card whenever they need to distract people from their iPhones. (This is the political version of saying penis or falling down, a tactic that performers use during comedy improvisation whenever they freeze on stage).
If in doubt, play the Hitler card.
Especially if you are on television.
And definitely if you are on Fox News.
Fox News pundits and guests, however, are not the only ones who keep a Hitler card up their sleeves for just the right inflammatory moment.
Here are a few recent examples of people (and organizations) that were accused of being like Hitler:
- Michael Bay, Transformers 3 director, by Actress Megan Fox: “He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is.”
- Apple, Inc. by Chinese technology company LeTV: Their marketing campaign for Le Superphones included a poster that showed Hitler wearing an armband marked with the Apple logo.
- Vladimir Putin by Fox News: “Putin is like Hitler but he’s more subtle and he’s also weaker,” said Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
- Barack Obama by … just about everyone:
- Representative Randy Weber (R – Texas): “Even Adolph [sic] Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris.”
- Rush Limbaugh: “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate.”
- Hank Williams, Jr.: “That would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu. Not hardly. In the shape this country is in?” he said, referring to John Boehner’s golf game with Barack Obama
- European Union by Kim Rose, UK Independence Party candidate: “There is a quote from Adolf Hitler which reads: ‘the best way to take control over a people is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions.’ … Hitler was evil, I’m just saying the EU is evil as well.”
- Donald Trump by Philadelphia Daily News: In response to Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslim immigrants and tourists from entering the US, the tabloid compared Trump to Hitler, using a photo of the Republican presidential candidate with his arm raised to look like a Nazi salute, and a “furor” / führer pun on the cover page.
This tactic of comparing your political opponents to Hitler is nothing new. In fact, the Hitler card goes all the way back to when Hitler was still alive. Here are a few of the earliest Hitler card tricks:
- Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under FDR, by American Federation of Labor: The AFL denounced her as a “labor dictator” and compared her to Hitler … and Mussolini. (New York Times, September 29, 1937)
- United States by British Communist Party: “America is seeking to obtain that domination of the world which Hitler was prevented from achieving.” (New York Times, September 3, 1946)
- Joseph Stalin by Representative John Taber (R – New York): “There is little difference between Stalin and Hitler, except that Stalin is a little slicker.” (New York Times, October 10, 1947)
- President Harry S. Truman by Progressive Party candidate Henry A. Wallace: President Truman “has done more than any man since Hitler to promote dictatorship in this world.” (New York Times, October 27, 1948)
And there’s this new twist on the Hitler card that also brings in the Second Amendment
U.S. Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is now claiming that the Holocaust (in which nearly six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime of none other than Hitler) could have been averted if the Jews had guns.
“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” the Republican presidential candidate said Thursday on CNN.
I guess when you play the Hitler card, you can also use it like a Pokemon Fossil card. So just when you think Hitler’s gone the way of Elvis and the TV show Full House (now a musical), some Republican sponsors his revival.
Viva la Hitler card!
The Anti-Defamation League, of course, quickly condemned Carson’s comments: “Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate,” said National Director Jonathan Greenblatt on Yahoo news. “The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German State.”
Of course, if Hitler were alive today, he might sue Fox News and other holders of the Hitler card.
Hitler used this tactic in 1923 against a German newspaper which accused him of being financed by American Jewish and Bolshevist groups, according to the New York Times.
That would certainly have been an interesting trial. But what would Hitler’s lawyer have said at the trial?
Fox News has done more than Hitler to promote fascism in the world … wait, not Hitler … I mean …
In the end, though, the big question is how Hitler would have reacted to all the Cats That Look Like Hitler. Especially the ones who salute him when he’s holding a piece of authentic German Bratwurst.
- Groucho the saluting cat, by Cats That Look Like Hitler
- LeTV poster playing the Hitler card, comparing Apple, Inc. to Hitler, by NewsNation
- Randy Weber playing the Hitler card, tweet comparing Obama to Hitler, by Politico