The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization. Drops the (Other) H-Bomb

By Leah Nelson on January 28, 2013 - 8:57 am, Posted in Extremist Propaganda

Godwin’s Law, an Internet adage started by lawyer and writer Mike Godwin in 1990, states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

The law’s point, Godwin explained in a 1995 article for Wired magazine, was the Internet seems to lead to glib comparisons between various politicians’ behavior and Hitler and Nazis which “invariably … trivialized the horror of the Holocaust and the social pathology of the Nazis”.

Godwin’s Law proved true once again on Friday, when, a particularly vicious faction of the nebulous right-wing movement, treated subscribers to an E-mail blast titled “Stop America’s Hitler,” featuring a picture of President Obama sporting a Hitler moustache. If that wasn’t enough, the E-mail also included a photograph of two Nazis executing a victim with a pistol.

“If you were to make a movie today about a nation where only the police and military had guns, would you call it Schindler’s America?” the E-mail asks. “This is exactly what is happening. … It’s INSANITY. We are being stripped bare of our liberties and rights,” and “[t]o this the Tea Party says HELL NO.”

It continued, “Members of the TeaParty, red-blooded Americans and fellow citizens, the time is coming when you must decide. A Lexington and Concorde [sic] moment when you must decide which is greater: the demands of a tyrannical government as they disarm us and eviscerate our liberties or your own personal rights.” has already made its decision and is ready to take action. The E-mail blast promotes a fundraising campaign called “Operation Raise Hell,” which will “demand the deportation of Piers Morgan,” write a “big fat check” to support a “Youth Firearms Training Initiative” to be run by Gun Owners of America, and send a Tea Party team to Washington to “get in their faces.”

“Someday,” the fundraising pitch concludes, “your children will thank you for saving their future from Obama’s Soviet-Style Socialist State.”

Let’s get this straight: Unless we arm our children and deport a gun-control-friendly British CNN host, the president of the United States, who is practically the same as Hitler, is going to create some kind of United Soviet Socialist States of America by abolishing guns rights?

That’s a lot to untangle.

First, a word about our sponsors., also known as the 1776 Tea Party, is an especially belligerent faction of the Tea Party movement whose founder, Dale Robertson, once showed up at a Houston rally carrying a sign that read, “Congress = Slaveowner, Taxpayer = Niggar [sic].” Its CEO, Steve Eichler, used to be executive director of the Minuteman Project, a nativist extremist group whose splashiest event was a month-long vigilante gathering on the Arizona border in April 2005. boasts that it is “the ONLY tea party praised by Dr. Michael Savage,” a radio talk show host who was fired from MSNBC in 2003 after describing an unidentified caller to his show as a “sodomite” who should “get AIDS and die.” Its website proudly features original content by Jerome Corsi, an influential conspiracy theorist best known for proposing, at various times, that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen; that the president’s true father is the late labor activist Frank Marshall Davis; and that Obama is gay and married to a Pakistani man. Really.

The site also includes content from WorldNetDaily, an extreme-right online publication that plugs all manner of conpiracist nonsense (the imminent end of the world, the cause of homosexuality is soybean consumption — you get the idea), and from Alex Jones, an antigoverment conspiracy monger whose response to recent calls for gun control has been so unhinged that even Glenn BeckGlenn Beck! – described him as a “crazy person.”

Now that we’ve taken care of explaining who is behind these wild claims about “Schindler’s America,” it’s time to get to the what of the matter – as in, what the heck are these guys talking about?

“Remember, Hitler and his Nazi regime disarmed the people,” Friday’s E-mail blast warns. “The comparison between Hitler and Obama is striking.”

Addressing the problems with this ludicrous “comparison” is a little like explaining why a raven is nothing like a writing desk (h/t Lewis Carroll). But we’ll stick with the salient comparison, which seems to be the idea that Obama is like Hitler in some way that involves gun control.

Gun rights absolutists have for decades claimed that America’s gun control laws were somehow inspired by Hitler, and that the Holocaust itself was somehow caused — or at least not prevented — by gun control.

As Hatewatch has explained at length elsewhere, the man who did the most to popularize this idea was the late Aaron Zelman, founder of a Wisconsin-based nonprofit called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), which touts itself as “America’s Most Aggressive Defender of Firearms Ownership.” Zelman’s most outrageous claim, outlined at length in his 1993 book ‘Gun Control’: Gateway to Tyranny, was that the 1968 Gun Control Act was explicitly based on Hitler’s gun laws. JFPO also claims the state-sanctioned mass murders and genocides in Ottoman Turkey, the USSR, Nazi Germany, China (under both Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao), Guatemala, Uganda, Cambodia, and Rwanda were all caused by variations on gun control laws, and conclude that tens of millions died as a result of gun control, not least among them the victims of Hitler’s reign.

As with many conspiracy theories, there’s a tiny kernel of truth to JFPO’s claim: In 1938, one day after Kristallnacht (a state-sanctioned pogrom that led to the burning of synagogues, destruction of Jewish businesses and property, and is generally considered to have been the beginning of a new phase of anti-Jewish violence in Nazi Germany), the German government issued a decree banning Jews from “acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons,” and requiring those who owned such weapons to turn them in to authorities. The punishment was imprisonment.

Indisputably, then, the Nazis opposed ownership of guns by Jews.

But – as hardly needs to be said – Nazis opposed Jews in general, and laws designed to disenfranchise and drive them out of Germany were implemented long before 1938, when the genocide began in earnest.

Moreover, gun control in Germany did not begin under the Nazis. In fact, except for bans on gun ownership by Jews and other perceived enemies, experts generally agree that the Third Reich’s gun laws were overall more relaxed than those enacted under its predecessor government, the Weimar Republic.

Bernard Harcourt, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, traced the evolution of German guns laws between 1919 and 1938 in an excellent 2004 paper, “On Gun Registration, the NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws: Exploding the Gun Culture Wars.” Harcourt notes that the Weimar Republic, reflecting the Treaty of Versailles’ “draconian” restrictions on weapons possession, banned gun ownership outright in 1919. Its gun laws were relaxed in 1928, but continued to require that all weapons be registered. The 1938 weapons law enacted under Hitler “represented a further liberalization of gun control regulations” [emphasis added] – deregulating the acquisition and sales of guns and ammunition, exempting entire groups from the permit requirement, lowering the age at which it was legal to own a gun from 20 to 18, and extending the validity of permits from one to three years.

“Hitler intended to liberalize gun control laws in Germany for ‘trustworthy’ German citizens, while disarming ‘unreliable’ persons, especially opponents of National Socialism and Jews, [so] [i]t is absurd to even try to characterize this as either pro-or anti-gun control,” Harcourt wrote. “But if forced to, it seems fair to conclude – at least preliminarily – that the Nazis were in favor of less gun control than the Weimar Republic for the ‘trustworthy’ German citizen – while disarming and engaging in a genocide of the Jewish population.”

And that’s about that for’s supposedly “striking” comparison between Hitler and Obama.

Now to’s goals – funding a “Youth Firearms Training Initiative” run by Gun Owners of America, deporting Piers Morgan, and going to Washington to “get in their faces.”

Gun Owners of America is an extreme-right organization whose executive director, Larry Pratt, helped outline the contours of the modern militia movement at an infamous 1992 convention of antigovernment fanatics and white supremacists in Estes Park, Colo. In 1996, Pratt was ejected as national co-chair of Pat Buchanan’s presidential candidates when his ties to the white supremacist convener of the Estes Park gathering were made public. “The Second Amendment ain’t about duck hunting,” he reportedly told the group.

Neither, presumably, would the “training institute” Pratt and intend to run for young people.

Piers Morgan, of course, is the CNN host whose advocacy of gun control has become something of a media circus featuring shouting matches with gun rights absolutists – including Pratt, who Morgan earlier this month called “an unbelievably stupid man.” A petition demanding Morgan’s deportation started by Alex Jones sidekick Kurt Nimmo has garnered tens of thousands of signatures, and apparently wants donors to think it will use their money will make this absurd fantasy come true.

Then there’s the plan to “get in their faces” in Washington. Given the context, we can only assume this means that hopes its emissaries will start some kind of argument with gun control advocates.

Well, that’s their right – under the First Amendment, they can petition the government for redress of grievances till they’re blue in the face, making as many Hitler comparisons as they feel their point about gun rights warrants.

Of course, Godwin’s Law about Internet discussion and Nazis has a few corollaries – one of which, according to Wikipedia (which on matters such as these is as authoritative a source as any, given that Godwin served as general counsel to the Wikimedia foundation from 2007-2010) states that once the comparison is made, the conversation is over and the party that brought up the Nazis “has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.”

So can go forth and get in “their” faces. Their silly and spurious Hitler comparison only undercuts whatever serious points might be made by gun rights advocates as Americans ponder an updated take on the Second Amendment.

  • Montana

    The KKK started the minutemen and then the Teabag Party. Now they control the GOP. Does anyone real believe that minorities will change the view of the GOP. The GOP just wants to send out coconuts out with the same old GOP message of protecting the rich, because they no longer hold a lead on civil liberties because they were the ones who came up and passed the Patriot Act, they were the ones who kidnapped and waterboarded, they were the ones who passed vaginal ultrasound bills throughout the nation (but leave the child abandoned after birth), they are the ones who love hating the gays, they were the ones who passed minority voter suppression laws right before a national election. I think the GOP has written off all minorities, but hey send out your coconuts, but don’t expect winning any elections. The GOP will reap what they have sown!

  • Dr. Zhicago

    @ Tony Choposki, Is that just a horrid attemt at humor, or are you a brain damaged 9-year-old? Ever read a history book? Well, you need to read a thousand to realize what a laughable bag of crap your presumptuous accusation on the left is. Do people on the fasist right have any desire to tell the truth? How about a desire to learn something that doesn’t fall into the pure bullshit category. Best of luck on my suggested surgery to have frontal lobes installed. FASCISM= Right Wingnuts. Period. How dumb is America? Most of the halfwits are to stupid to guess.

  • http://Chicagoblatnoiswiilmakeyourproblemdisappear Dr. Zhicago

    Those poor tea bagged nitwits should begin by giving all their travel expenses back to the Koch Bros. Are they claiming to be anticorporation, or just anticorporation to the ones that don
    ‘t grease their palms? They are beyond the pale as far as an atom of integrity and truth. All I can say is I can’t wait for the babbling loud mouth creeps to act like snoking pigs at my next town hall meeting. I have no qualms about inflicting great pain on rude jackasses. Fun, fun, fun, is coming my way.

  • John Somerville

    I am really disgusted and dismayed that an organization such as the SPLC has gotten so far away from their roots that their rhetoric could be compared to the same “hate speech” that they condemn others for. The political discourse in this country from the left as well as the right, has gotten so extreme and vile that everyone has forgotten that we “can agree to disagree” and still be civil and courteous. Simply because I don’t agree with the positions of the SPLC doesn’t mean they should be labeled a “hate group.”

  • Aron

    Wes, please do so. And send us the link when you go live! I look forward to your objective reporting.


  • wes

    It is time you disgusting pukes had to worry about being called dangerous and destructive for a change.

    I am going to start my own “hatewatch” site to monitor you assholes.

  • Sam Molloy

    Yes, Degrene, the most extreme factions on both sides are the least tolerant of the other. Tea Party rallies are indeed a gold mine for people recording crazy tidbits. But the rallies of the Extreme Left, where Communist, not Socialist, rhetoric flows like an open sewer, never get much airplay on “All The News At 6″. Furthering the divide are groups on both sides that generate funds from scare tactics instead of trying to find common ground.

  • What?

    What is really funny about the TPers is if you bring up some of the more egrigious human rights abuses of our times…

    Such as the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Dalai Lama in exile or Ang Sang Su Kii and her political imprisonment… they just look at you like they saw a deer in the headlights.

    NO ONE can genuinely be for personal freedom and not agree that human rights should be afforded to EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE. It IS all about them and their perception of their own “rights”.

  • degrene

    To What?

    Of course, the freedom they want to protect is their own and no one else’s. That’s what they mean by “individual” freedom. From what I’ve been able to tell, their ideal society is one in which all people are armed and can exercise their “rights’ according to their own will and the calibre of their firearm and sharpness of their aim.

    One of the far right gun advocates said the other day that their goal is to make firearms worn openly are “normal part of society” so it’s easy to see where all this is going.

    So many people on both sides (but from my experience predominantly on the far Right) feel that the country should operate strictly to their own beliefs rather than be a democracy. And that is the same attitude that has led to so many totalitarian regimes in the past.

  • Scott Stephens

    The Tea Party is not a hate group anymore than the NAACP just because their political opinions differ from the SPLC. Please stick to attacking criminal gangs and the KKK.

  • What?

    Since the Tea Party is so hell bent on destroying homosexuals and women’s reproductive rights… I consider all their blustering about “protecting personal freedom” to be a bunch of hot air.

    They, of course, have every right to spout their rhetoric however and to whomever they want… but I think the Tea Party experiment has been a huge failure, and will continue to be so.

  • Roger B.

    When we have Glenn Beck calling Alex Jones a crazy man it just shows how crazy this country really is becoming.

  • Anna

    Kurt Nimmo publishes Hopsickers stuff. Hopsicker’s stuff is funded out of Northern CA, by Lois Battuello, who claims to work for/get-give information to CA Sen. Barbara Boxer believe it or not. She claims to have CIA parents. She was deep in with the 9/11 truth out movement scouring for info to pass back to her stable of writers. Until they began fighting among themselves. The 9/11 movement can be divided into two: one faction holds incredibly deep anti-semitic programs, I mean to the core, to this very day, holocaust deniers etc. and these are 1,000 percent involved with starting T-party cells in their regions. The other faction is “everyone else” many of whom have fizzled out.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Real socialists want to eventually eliminate government and the whole state itself.

  • Edwin Riker

    A lot of what I read (not just from here) about the Tea Party and various other “radical conservative” political arguments sounds frighteningly similar to the polemics and editorials of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s defending lynching.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I am *not* trying to trivialize anything.

    But the apocalyptic fears expressed concerning the introduction of anti-lynching laws sounds dam similar to the apocalyptic fears expressed by (so called) Social Conservatives…

  • John Henry

    Idiotic essay…Long live the true patriots.

  • Aron

    Sam, I don’t think you’ll find many Socialists who want total government control of the economy. Simply greater regulation.

    There’s a very big difference.

  • Gregory

    Nice strawman, Sam.

  • Erika

    Sam, according to the Tea Party, “common sense worker and environmental protections” are whatever Koch Energy wants and whatever Fox News tells them they are. That means no unions and jobs (especially from extraction industries) always comes first.

    And the fact that the politicians the Tea Party actually support tend to be either modern versions of Lester Maddox or Christian Right types should tell you all you need to know about them. They may claim limited government, but that is only for the economy and taxes – they have no problem with social control whether it be by government means (like the Christian Right wants) or by private means with private property over all (as the modern versions of Lester Maddox show).

  • Sam Molloy

    As I understand it, the Third Reich had the government strictly controlling all social issues, and left the production of capital to the private companies who were allowed to treat workers and the environment however they pleased. As such, the structure was similar to what the Extreme Religious Right promotes. There is a large faction of the Tea Party ar large that wants the limited government that the framers of the Constitution had in mind, but favors common sense worker and environmental protections that level the playing field for the companies. There is an equally extreme faction of Liberal thought that seems to want the government to control it all, own it all and dole out what it thinks people need to survive. Renaming this old Communist agenda a Progressive Plan or whatever does not change what it is.

  • Reynardine

    Sam, we washed your pacifier for you the last time you threw it. Please be a good boy and don’t put us to the trouble.

  • concernedcitizen

    First of all I get, I understand why people of nations who have faced such tyranny as the Nazis would not want to give up their gun rights. But let’s be serious Obama is nothing like Hitler. That’s ridiculous.

    And there are Jewish people who run a non profit in Wisconsin? Really, where are the Jewish people of Wisconsin hiding out?

    We need more Jewish and minorities running more non-profit to assist the smaller cities of Wisconsin in ridding us all of the hate groups and independent bigots that go around harassing people of color or “disagreeable religious backgrounds”.

    It would be nice to see an increase and spreading out of the minority communities into the small farming communities of Wisconsin.

  • aadila

    “Anybody ever watch ‘Stargate SG1? and wonder why all of the “good aliens” have Nordic god’s names…?”

    Why, yes.

    As a matter of fact, I do wonder at that.


  • Sam Molloy

    Steve, that should read one inch below the grip. I take it that is a typo as I pretty much agree with everything you said. These nuts in this article are of course the most rabid extremists and do not speak for everyone associated with the Taxed Enough Already Party. If I remove my tin foil hat I can imagine some rabid Liberals writing some of this garbage to make us all look bad.

  • adamhill

    “Obama HATES America.”


    “Obama HATES colonialism just like his father did.”

    Um…should he like colonialism?

    “Obama HATES wealthy Americans — especially if they’re white.”


    “Obama HATES Jews.”


    “They certainly ran the most divisive, racial campaign of the 21st century.”


    A “hate group” does not mean “a group that hates something,” you moron.

  • MRJ

    @ de Grene

    Good point about the “savages” who actually stole and destroyed other’s property, and “went forth” upon the highways concealing their identities to avoid prosecution, and blaming someone else.
    That “war”, the actual first for this Nation, is still going on.
    Look at the reasons that VAWA was actually being stonewalled in Congress: NA women, and the “rights” of prosecution for crimes against NA women by non-NA males who know they won’t be prosecuted because there is no cross jurisdictional partisanship.
    Such an obvious affront to even basic rights is disgusting and appalling.
    88% or so as documented.
    NA Women are being stalked and raped by non-NA males and all they have to do is claim “jurisdictional” requirements for prosecution on Native Land/Tribal Governance and walk away.
    Look at how the TP manifestoes are blathering about the repeal of the 14th (or anything above the 10th), and how it would affect those Treated as Individual Sovereign Nations within US borders, and wonder what would happen to those designated as such in response to “send ’em all back at the muzzle of a gun” type rhetoric.
    Oklahoma just recently sidestepped an “anti-Sharia” legislation that would have done untold damage to NA populations in their state.
    They used the “Moooslim” threat, so prevalent in contemporary “debate”, for broad and generalized anti-freedom of religion/prosecution for hate crime legislation.
    Thankfully, their Judiciary overturned that.

  • Gregory

    Well, that’s a relief. Tony informs us that is just like the Daily Show. Any comedy emanating from that organization is scripted and intentional, just like Jon Stewart’s. And all this time we thought they were just deranged rightwingers.


  • Reynardine

    Tony Chopsticks, boy, you must get your box of clichés where everyone else does.

  • MRJ

    Tea Party… Hmmmm.

    Has anybody seen those American Bund photos in Madison Square Garden on the eve of WWII?
    Anybody see a correlation between the pictures of our “Founding Father” and the fact that it was a Nazi rally being plastered with the picture of ol’ George, our supposed “Patriot” of patriots, and the Gott, Volk, und Vaterland being used now?
    Always fun to try to point that out to a local USA Flag Wrapped, Cross Bearing “patriot”.
    Anybody ever look at American “Isolationism” as a recurring, re-instigated theme, especially after reading about the ideas that AH had about the reason he felt that America would fall in line with the Third Reich after it was able to take most of Europe due to our historic Civil Rights Abuses and treatment of minorities or Indigenous Peoples?
    Another one of those: Try Telling THAT To Them moments.
    Let alone the Weimar isolationism and the instigated “encircled by enemies” paranoia of the German people previous to WWI.
    Anybody ever wonder why our Congress/Government has never signed the UN Declaration of Civil Rights?
    Hmmmm… just a fighting words inducing argument if you even try to mention the UN to a Tea Party fanatic.
    Anybody ever wonder why this “grassroots organizing” theme keeps popping up as if it is New and Exciting for another generation?
    Ties To “The Land Of Our Fathers” as a rallying cry.
    Anybody read one of those regional or local TP manifestoes and notice the term “natural law” and “truth” being used synonymously with one another?

    Yeaaahhh, I know: preaching to the choir, but I want to vent.

    Anybody ever try to mention that their entire “grassroots”, hearts and minds organizing can be found in it’s entirety in Mao’s writing on Popular control?
    Always a lively debate.
    I wonder how many of them actually understand that their entire playbook on small, closed cell organizing and local “political” population control was penned and laid out in it’s entirety by a Communist, and that they are following it to a letter.
    “Uncle Ho” would be proud of them.
    Something that will also get you in lively “debate”: The Tea Party and Sinn Feign have very similar tactics.
    Both of them with a veneer of credibility as “Political Organizations” forwarding a terrorist agenda by thinly veiled (and now, outright) threats of violence if their “political” demands are not met.
    “Take Our Country Back!”.
    Destroy Unions.
    Deny Healthcare.
    Subjugate Women.

    This evil keeps rearing it’s ugly head, generation after generation: Ron Paul, who has been touted by the recent isolationists/segregationists as “inventing” the Tea Party movement was just a figure head as we here know.
    Anybody ever read ‘The Sheep Look Up’ (John Brunner, Harper & Row, 1972), and wonder where their “sheeple” crap comes from?
    Do any of them understand the term “Judas Goat” and want to see how figureheads are used for slaughter, i.e.: Ron Paul.
    Anybody ever notice that his original bid for election was paid for by disgruntled marijuana users/dealers due to his stance on “legalization”.
    I wonder how many just plain old pot heads, duped into supporting him by “their rights to smoke” have ever seen the pictures of him shaking hands with Randy Grey of Midland, MI. and how much the Klan had to do with his “organizing”?
    Anybody ever read ‘Tom Paine Maru’ (L.Neil Smith, Ballantine Books, 1984) and it’s glorification of the “Confederate”, personally/individually armed, anti-big government “Look how far WE’d be if Our Side Had Won” type propaganda?
    These are just a couple, but they very realistically portray and even delineate the current events as happening today: 41 years ago in the case of ‘The Sheep…’.
    Yeah, I know, they’re “fiction” or SF, but the pages of Astounding and other Late Victorian “fantasy and wonder” magazines/publications predated the tank, radio, TV, and thousands of other advancements that most take for granted today.
    1984 was not the only book that was ever written on this topic, although the TPers keep trying to say it was.
    ‘Fahrenheit 451′, ‘Starship Troopers’, etc. also foretell this state of affairs using proxies, and a satirical slap at Red Scare and curtailing of education agenda by people who want One Doctrine.

    Anybody ever wonder how far we’d be if Tesla hadn’t been pretty much been SLAPP-ed to oblivion by Edison-Mazda/GE?
    The American Dream: Capitalism, and the stifling of freedoms or free expression by Dominionism/entitlement.
    Yeahhh… again… turn around, the audience is that-away.

    Anybody ever watch ‘Stargate SG1′ and wonder why all of the “good aliens” have Nordic god’s names, while all of the “evil” ones, who are repeatedly “exposed” as “false god’s” and “slavers” are all named after Egyptian gods/goddesses or historically anti-Abrahamic/Judeo/Christian ones like Baal, and are, for the most part, Brown, or Asian?


  • Tony Chopkoski

    Let’s not continue the yellow journalism. That faction of the Tea Party was the yuck-yuck equivalent of The Daily Show or something of that ilk. More people on the left than the right are prone to jump on the Hitler bandwagon. (How many times was Bush compared to him?) This fluff piece is just a reminder that thick-heads are ever prowling and looking for some horror news that will titillate…someone or something.

  • Gregory

    @ E.G., thanks for the recitation of idiotic memes, but I wonder, why should we “love” colonialism?

  • Reynardine

    E.G., you used to *support* this organization? Either you have since contracted Mad Cow, or you are lying from A to Zygo.

  • reaper081087


    Apparently right-wingers do not get it!

  • E.G.

    How delightful the SPLC now yields to political correctness. I understand there are plenty of fools in the Tea Party, but there are also those who are simple patriots who want limited government and national security. So let’s review:

    Obama HATES America.
    Obama HATES colonialism just like his father did.
    Obama HATES wealthy Americans — especially if they’re white.
    Obama HATES Jews.

    In fact, why isn’t the entire Obama Admin. being classified by SPLC as a “hate group?” They certainly ran the most divisive, racial campaign of the 21st century.

    I used to be a big fan of this organization; it seems now they have lost touch with reality…although I’m delighted to know they regard the Nation of Islam as a “hate group,” which they are.

  • de Grene

    I find it simultaneously humorous, pathetic and ominous that these self-styled “patriots” take their organization’s name from an event that was conceived, staged and executed by a band of Colonial smugglers (chief among them John Hancock) in order to protect their profit margin after the East India Company began selling tea at such low prices that the smugglers could not compete. And to think that they were such cowards that, rather than perform an act of overt protest, they disguised themselves in order to blame it all on dark-skinned people they called “savages.”

    Yep — sounds pretty familiar to me.

  • Steve

    Thank you, Leah, for illustrating the difference between a raven and a writing desk. It was illuminating and mentioned a couple of tidbits of history I was unaware of and will now further explore.
    I am quite certain that given enough time, the Tea Party will eventually overstep their boundaries and make speech that is no longer protected speech, it’s only a matter of time until outright sedition occurs.
    One can only hope that it happens sooner than later and we can end listening to that which comes out of the south end of the northbound horse.

    As for gun control, I’m against any ban. We all saw how ignorant our congress is when attempting to define a firearm and how pride prevented consulting with experts in order to make effective legislation. Even then, I’m dubious as to the effectiveness, as manufacturers are rather creative people.
    However, one can easily place firearms derived from selective fire military firearms under the National Firearms Act.
    One can easily place magazines of 20 rounds or more under the act as well, along with pistol magazines that protrude more than one inch below the end of the magazine well.
    That legislation has been highly effective, held as constitutional and has significant case law supporting it.
    The funny thing is, I am a competition shooter, firing in military class competitions. I fire the firearms I’m discussing and know that I can pass the background investigation. I know it because I’m a veteran and have already passed the same background investigation for my clearance. It’s intrusive, but it’s effective in weeding out the morally deficient or mentally unstable.
    Still, my background investigation would have to be updated and hence, should I wish to replace one of the rifles I use, I’d have to wait for the investigation to be complete and that takes months.
    But, we have to do something to limit and hopefully, eliminate the worst of the carnage in our streets, malls, theaters and schools.

  • Matthew Bright

    Minuteman Project equals Shawna Forde, the woman who led two of her followers to invade a home in Arizona and murder nine year old Brisenia Flores and her father.

    I’m surprised these people can show their face after that.

  • Sam Molloy

    Thanks for pointing out a real danger to America in an unbiased and articulate way.

  • aadila

    Leah, you rock. Keep on keeping on.

  • Leah Nelson


    Thanks for your kind words.

    As for your discussion about whether it is ever appropriate to compare atrocities to Hitler and the Holocaust, I can’t speak for Mike Godwin, but I personally agree with you — and based on his words, I think Godwin would too:

    In a 2011 interview published by the American Holocaust Memorial Museum, Godwin explained the impetus behind his law thus: “I thought that if we continued to make trivial comparisons to Nazis or to Hitler or to the Holocaust, we in some ways were papering over how spiritually traumatic that period was for all of Western civilization, and maybe for civilization generally.”

    However, he continued, “I wanted to not necessarily promote Holocaust exceptionalism, but I really want make people aware of the gravity of the comparisons that they were making.”

    In others words, it’s not that there are no appropriate comparisons to Hitler and Nazis; it’s that glib and spurious comparisons are not helpful – both because they “paper over” the horror of the Third Reich — and, according to the corollary I cited, because they undermine true debate.

    However, not all Holocaust comparisons are created equal.

    I invoked Godwin’s law in this blog because’s comparison between Hitler and Obama for reasons of gun control is absurd, hysterical, and offensive. If a gun control advocacy group sent out an email blast saying that Nazis had guns and anyone who has a gun is therefore a Nazi sympathizer, it would be ridiculous.

    However, if a human rights observer wanted to invoke Hitler and Nazi propaganda in a discussion of, for instance, anti-Tutsi radio broadcasts in 1990s Rwanda and their relationship to the Rwandan genocide, I’d say that’s a highly appropriate comparison.

    Hope that helps


  • aadila

    Just to add a minor correction:

    It was Yoko Ono, not John Lennon, who came up with the phrase “woman is the nigger of the world.” Lennon claimed in 1972 the song was inspired by Irish revolutionary James Connolly’s phase “the female worker is the slave of the slave”.

    The point is simply that those of us on the political left need to be cautious of ideological purity in exercise of free expression. Quite simply, it’s easy to see the words and not understand the meaning.

    I recall Democratic Senator Patrick Moynahan (about as liberal as liberal gets) in the 1990s was called a racist for daring to state a demographic fact that African Americans have comparatively low levels of education vis-a-vis other segments of society.

    The point he was making is that it was an urgent social problem that needed to be addressed, but all some on the left heard was racism.

    Some in the stammtisch have already decided this kind of bold social commentary is not constructive. I must humbly disagree that without it we will become reactionaries by any other name and might as well embrace the Tea Party.

  • Robert Castle

    The Republican Party has become a Trojan Horse wherein have gathered radicals of every nature and description, each and all of whom are virtual insurgents ready to ambush and to sack our government and impose anarchy on our citizenry.

  • aadila

    Thanks, Leah, for sifting through the complexities of this issue in a sane and insightful way. I for one did not know that the Weimar Republic was restrictive of firearms, and I am very much in your debt for the insightful history lesson.

    I would like to make a couple of observations: First I disagree with the corollary of Godwin’s “law” that any reference to Hitler/Nazism is automatically an illogical comparison.

    While mention of the Holocaust in political speech is probably inaccurate in most cases, I think it worth considering that this is one way in which humanity remembers and observes the bleakest period of human history. At least we can be conscious of how bad things can get when taken to the extreme. It can be hyperbolic and cautionary at the same time. Though I absolutely agree that in most instances, including the one in the article, the comparison is unfortunate.

    That is why it is necessary to always examine the context and subtext of political speech before jumping the gun when people use phrases which are formulated for the express purpose of stirring political sentiment. Hyperbole is and always has been one of the most expedient tools of the rhetorician.

    An example that comes to mind is John Lennon, who sang, famously or infamously, “woman is the nigger of the world”. While those are powerful and evocative words, I think it would be a great leap to suggest that John Lennon was racist or attempting to offend anyone; in fact, he was criticising both racism and sexism…he used an offensive word to call attention to our lack of outrage over exploitation and degradation of women. That irony should not be confused with an expression of hate simply because he used a hateful word.

    Things need to be put in context to be understood, and that requires patience and tolerance, even when words, taken in isolation, seem offensive.

  • David Cary Hart

    I scarcely know where to being. Moreover, I don’t know which part of me is more offended; I am Jewish, I am a survivor of gun violence and I have an IQ above room temperature.

  • Barbara Mehok

    I am thankful and admire all of you at SPL. Thank you for publishing this article. It is very important to reach the people that may believe their rubbish and lies. The Republican leaders and the Tea Party want to make all the people to believe these lies so the Republicans can take over the Presidency and allow the rich to become richer and the poor poorer. What a shame there isn’t a law to make them stop spreading these lies. Do what you can do to spread the word and I will too. Thank you, Barbara Mehok, Thom Ronk’s proud mother

  • CM

    I recently re-watched the Paul Newman movie “Slap Shot” for the first time in years, and it occurred to me that the Tea Party movement is the political equivalent of the cretinous Hanson brothers in the film – brutish half-wits whose love of crashing into people and starting fights ends up making it impossible for the real athletes to play anything resembling real hockey. It would be nice if we could put these far-right fantasists in the penalty box for a while.

  • james

    yes its ridiculous but I have to ask
    did anyone criticize any person or group when they protested President Bush and used the Nazi symbol as the “S” in the presidents name?
    you cant go after one group of people without going after others. This is why we are divided as a country.
    and by the way, whatever they said or did, its still freedom of speech guaranteed to them under the first amendment of the US Constitution

  • t. delbeck

    Thank you for publishing this.