I understand that everyone from Patrick Dorwin to Charlie Sykes to Jay Nordlinger has linked to the well done GOP video contrasting liberal concern over the rhetoric of the Tea Pary with the rhetoric of opponents of the Governor's proposals on collective bargaining in the public sector. The video is well done and makes a valid point, but there is one part in particular that deserves special mention.
Comparisons of Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler are surpassing ignorant and offensive. In this case, though, it hasn't just been overwrought protesters who indulged themselves. State Sen. Lena Taylor warns us that "Hitler abolished unions in 1933" and that's "what our Governor is doing today." The implication is that the Governor's limitation of collective bargaining by public employees (something that wasn't widely permitted until the sixties and seventies and still isn't in some states)is comparable to and somehow of a piece with the dangers and horrors of National Socialism.
She is, of course, wrong as a factual matter. Twice. Walker hasn't proposed the abolition of public employee unions - much less "unions" in general - and there actually were unions in the Third Reich. In fact, the national trade union organization, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront, was run by an alcoholic and corrupt socialist sympathizer named Robert Ley. It administered a wide variety of often elaborate worker benefits as part of a program called Kraft durch Freude ("Strength through Joy"). Ley ultimately hung himself before he could be tried at Nuremberg.
To be sure, the DAF was controlled by the state. But everything in Nazi Germany was controlled by the state and party pursuant to a policy of "Gleichschaltung" - or "coordination." That's precisely why the comparison - even were it true - would be so preposterous and shameful. In a very real sense, Hitler tried to abolish or transform every institution that is familiar to us (including the family).
I hadn't appreciated that Scott Walker has proposed a totalitarian state or anything like it. I did hear that he wants public employees to pay amounts toward their retirement and health insurance that are higher than current levels but still much lower than the average for the rest of us. I guess I missed the part where people were going to be dragged from their homes and sent to concentration camps. I read that he has proposed a modification of the authority of state and local governments to enter into collective bargaining agreements and collect dues on behalf of unions, but must have overlooked the abolition of the rights of free speech and association. I saw that he wants voter approval of raises above the cost of living for unionized public employees (i.e., those represented by the unions that he hasn't abolished). But who knew that this was somehow the equivalent of forced sterilization and extermination camps?
I hadn't noticed that the budget adjustment bill sets up a WalkerJugend in which all children must be enrolled or that it establishes a paramilitary organization - maybe called the Leibstandarte SS- Rebecca Kleedfisch - to intimidate political opponents and "undesirables." I'll have to read it again.
It's funny, but it's not. All of us - across the political spectrum - are burdened by people who say foolish things. It is one thing for idiotic Hitler comparisons to be made by anonymous protesters holding homemade signs (although the probability tht they are public school teachers is frightening). After all, we on the right had to live down hairbrush moustaches drawn on President Obama.
But it's another thing for the same odious comparison to be made by someone who claims to be a community leader. Where ever she is hiding tonight, Lena Taylor should be ashamed. When she and her colleagues decide to come out and abide by their oath of office, she should apologize.