The ‘big lie’ behind Rep. Cohen’s Goebbels smear

John Guardiano Freelance Writer
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Everyone seems to agree that Rep. Steve Cohen’s comparison of conservative Republicans with Nazis is abhorrent. But there are still some people who think that although Cohen’s remarks went too far, there is, nonetheless, some truth to what he said.

After all, they reason, American politics is a continuum; and some of the most “extreme,” “far-right” conservatives get dangerously close to being fascists.

Of course, Jonah Goldberg wrote an entire book, Liberal Fascism, to show that this isn’t true. Fascism, he explained, actually has its political and philosophical roots on the Left, not the Right.

Nonetheless, liberals and leftists like Cohen have long felt a sense of smug moral entitlement to smear conservatives with the fascist brush.

But in truth, both sides can play this game. In fact, conservatives arguably can play it better and with greater political and philosophical justification.

Here, for instance, is how a conservative might play Cohen’s game, and in accordance with his own rules, and in light of his own illogic.

The Tennessee Democrat, of course, has famously charged conservative critics of “comprehensive national health insurance” (a.k.a. Obamacare) with perpetrating the “big lie” — “just like Goebbels.”

They say it’s a government takeover of health care — a big lie, just like Goebbels. You say it enough — you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie — and eventually, people believe it.

Like Blood libel — that’s the same kind of thing. The Germans said enough about the Jews, and the people believed it, and you had the Holocaust. You tell a lie over and over again.

And we’ve heard it on this floor: “government takeover of healthcare.”

Of course, as even the left-wing National Jewish Democratic Council has observed in its rebuke of Cohen: “Invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable.” American politicos, after all, are not Nazis; and any suggestion to the contrary is obscene and grotesque.

But to illustrate the utter inanity of Cohen’s comparison, let’s apply his illogic from the vantage point of an American conservative.

They say it won’t lead to a government takeover of healthcare. They say that people can keep their health insurance if the want. But that’s a big lie, just like Goebbels. You say it enough — you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie — and eventually, people believe it.

Like “end of life counseling” — that’s the same kind of thing. These euphemisms and lies lead directly to events like the Holocaust and the murder of the Jews.

Rep. Cohen, in fact, is “just like Goebbels.” Why, he’s even said it on the House floor: “No one will take your health insurance away. You can keep it if you like it.”

But everyone knows this isn’t true. Everyone knows that once the private-sector is regulated and squeezed to death, that private-sector health insurance will be extinguished; and people then will be clamoring for a government “fix.”

It’s all part and parcel of the big lie propagated by the far Left in order to destroy the American healthcare system.

For the record, I do not, obviously, think that Rep. Cohen — or any other congressional Democrat for that matter — is in any way, shape or form analogous to Joseph Goebbels and the Nazis. That is, as I say, an obscene and grotesque comparison.

Nor do I think that Cohen and his left-wing compatriots are “lying,” with the intent to “destroy the American healthcare system.”

Instead, I think we have an honest and sincere political and philosophical disagreement over public policy. I recognize this for what it is: an expression of American democracy. If only Cohen and the far Left were similarly tolerant of dissenting points of view.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog, ResoluteCon.com, and on Twitter @JohnRGuardiano.