Gohmert Catches Flak for Conflating Democrats, Socialists and Nazis

WASHINGTON - With the president and other Republicans regularly trying to slap the label of "socialist" on Democrats, Rep. Louie Gohmert and others took the effort a step further by conflating Nazis--the genocidal fascists who led Germany in World War II--with socialists."The potential is out there for another Hitler, a socialist like Hitler to come along" unless Congress puts a check on the Justice Department, the East Texas Republican warned Tuesday at a Judiciary Committee hearing.When several Democrats sought to set him straight about the difference between genuine socialists and National Socialist German Workers' Party -- known as Nazis -- Gohmert insisted that he was correct."I'm sorry - we need to do everything we can to avoid another Holocaust," he said, but "they were the National Socialist Party. It's what they were.... They claimed to be socialists, and they were."That's not a standard understanding of Nazi ideology and Democrats quickly accused Gohmert of trying to rewrite and distort history.Although the Nazi party did have left-leaning leaders early on, in 1934 Adolf Hitler engineered a bloody purge known as the Night of Long Knives. The Nazi party that took power in Germany, embarked on conquest and engaged in the mass murder of Jews, Gypsies and others was anything but a left-leaning party.Whatever socialist elements existed early in Nazi history "were purged and murdered by Hitler," Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., shot back at Gohmert, noting that once in power, the Nazis were clearly "at the extreme right of the political spectrum"--the far end from communists and socialists."It's hard to listen to the historical revisionism or perhaps ignorance about the Nazis," he said. "Concentration camps were built by private firms who submitted the low bid. There was in no sense a socialist economy or a socialist ideology," he said. "You can debate the merits of socialism or capitalism or anything else. You shouldn't confuse it by an absolutely objectively false invoking of Nazis."Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, also chided Gohmert."We don't want to mix apples and pickles together," she said. "That certainly would be a pickle that there would be any comparison of any party here in the United States, other than the Nazi Party to dastardly deeds."The hearing was on the still-secret special counsel report and any obstruction of justice findings related to President Donald Trump. One day earlier, an Alabama Republican, Rep. Mo Brooks, had stood on the House floor reading a passage about propaganda from Hitler's "Mein Kampf," accusing Democrats of perpetrating a "big lie" that Trump had colluded with Russia.Democrats were still seething when Gohmert echoed the argument."If socialists and the fake news media had any honor, they would cleanse their souls and atone for their sins by uttering mea culpas and apologizing to the American people for the fraud and scam committed," Brooks said, referring to Democrats as socialists. "More likely, however, they will double down and propagate even more big lies... In that vein, I quote from another socialist who mastered big lie propaganda to a maximum and deadly effect: `'In the big lie, there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily.... It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.""The author was socialist Adolf Hitler in his book, 'Mein Kampf,'" Brooks said."Historically speaking, there was a reason it was called national `socialist.' It transformed around 1934. The left was eliminated. They were purged and exterminated. Most of the left-leaning leaders were exterminated. They were shot," said Dr. Marcus Stadelmann, chairman of political science and history at the University of Texas at Tyler who has written about fascism, among other topics.The political right has no monopoly on nationalism or racism, he said. And fascism can be hard to place on the political spectrum because the hallmarks are having a supreme leader atop a power elite, and state control of the economy. But socialism is marked by collective ownership, whereas fascists believe in private property and capitalism--as long as industry, etc. is used for the good of the state.During the Nazi rise to power in the 1920s, there were some socialist aspects to the movement, Stadelmann said: nationalization of some industries, for instance.Regardless of the historical precedent, he said, there's no real comparison between Nazis and Democrats."Democrats believe in democracy," though many, he said, would be comfortable with "social democrats" views in Europe such as strong unions and universal health care.Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, called it "abominable and scary" to hear Republicans try to conflate Democrats with Nazis."I just want you to know how it offends me as a Jewish person," he told Gohmert. "To talk about the Nazi Party as national socialists -- emphasizing `socialists' -- and the logical connection in their messaging is to say that socialists were for the Holocaust, that socialists were against the Jews.""I know where most of the anti-Semites end up, and they're not on our side."  Continue reading...

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