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Nazi era still popular, but distorted. Secretary Rumsfeld has German roots and used to visit his relatives in the 80s, but does not seem to know much about German history. He compared Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez with Adolf Hitler in a speech at the National Press Club:

He's a person who was elected legally, just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power, and now is of course working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others.

While Chavez was elected president by more than 50% of the popular vote in 1998, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor by President Hindenburg in 1933. Hitler's party had been the strongest party in the Reichstag, but did not receive more than 20% of the votes. [Correction: not more than 35%.] Still it was a failure of the Weimar democracy.

Hugo Chavez was able to consolidate his power due to the high oil price and the US addiction to oil.  Venezuela received $ 16 billion in oil revenues from the United States in 2004.

Stupid Hitler comparisions are still very popular. History News Network tracks the use of Hitler by politicians, journalists and polemicists and includes the flagrant exploitation of the Holocaust, but is not updated very often.

A few days ago, Hollywood nominated yet another German movie about Nazis for the Oscar: "Sophie Scholl." Last year it was "Downfall." The only German movies who won an Oscar for best foreign movie were set in the Nazi era: "Tin Drum" and "Nowhere in Africa." Despite all the movies about the Nazi era, many folks still underestimate his crimes against humanity, i.e. compare him with Chavez.

Two questions:
a) Why are the crimes of the Nazis so often ridiculed by silly comparisions with Chavez, "Femi-Nazis," Soup-Nazis etc.
b)  Why are Nazi movies still so popular in "progressive" Hollywood, while other good German movies don't get a chance of an Oscar nomination, let alone being shown in a US cinema?

Originally posted to Berlin Bear on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 02:40 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  nazis (none)
    it an easy and unintellectual sound bite,requiring no mental effort to bring forth.Problem is,the comparison rarely survives any sort serious scrutiny.Just another example of Rummy being only dimly aware of circumstance.

    it tastes like burning...

    by eastvan on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 03:03:44 AM PST

  •  Ironic part is (4.00)
    Bush and his administration are far more similar in their tactics than Chavez is to the Nazis (except the bit where 6 million were murdered.  Although, Bush is about 5.9 million behind and slowly catching up).

    -7.38, -5.74 This is your world. These are your people. You can live for yourself today, or help build tomorrow for everyone.

    by DisNoir36 on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 03:15:20 AM PST

  •  Unlike Bush, (4.00)
    Chavez has not as yet invaded a foreign country on the basis of lies..

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 03:36:32 AM PST

  •  Why is there no outrange from the Media when (none)
    the Bushco compares its adversaries to Hitler or Nazis. Had he been a Democrat, the Right wing and the Media will be demanding apologies. We should demand that Secretary Rumsfeld apologize to the victims of the Holocaust now.  
  •  Within a world where freedom equals invasion (none)
    and war crimes, where a Clear Skies Initiative enables more pollution and where voting reform means more Diebold machines, being compared with Hitler really means Chavez is like Gandhi which, incidentally, turns out to be true.

    You just have to understand their language.

    (none / 0), (none / 0), it's off to kos we go, with a...

    by doorguy on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 03:53:13 AM PST

  •  he also compared bush with hitler (none)
    he alluded to "a democratically elected leader who moved to consolidate power"
  •  Easy way to discredit Cindy Sheehan (none)
    Since footage of Cindy Sheehan hugging Hugo Chavez is making the rounds now, and she is back in the public eye after being arrested illegally at the State of the Union address, linking Chavez to Hitler is a quick and easy way to discredit Cindy to the public.
  •  it's interesting when people make nazi comaprisons (4.00)
    i admit that i do it.  when i see our freedoms being given away one by one.  but when the bush administration, who admonishes anyone who dares makes such comparisons about them, do it to someone else.... i have to laugh a bit.  i mean, you can see the projection of their own behaviors on others every time a member of this administration speaks.  it would be funny if it weren't so friggin serious.
  •  What does Chavez call Rumsfeld? (none)
    Chavez's nickname for Bush is simply hilarious (Mr. Danger). I wonder what he calls Rumsfeld. Mr. Scrooge?
  •  umm your figures are wrong (none)
    in the last election before Hitler was invited to be Chancellor, the Nazis got over 34% of the total popular vote

    but since the Reichstag and the government were organized to a large degree on parlimaentary principles, it might be more important to note that in the election after Hitler became Chancellor, the Nazis won about 43% of the seats in the Riechstag outright, and with their coalition partners had an outright majority in the legislative body

    that Hitler never won an outright popular majority is of course true.  But when we look at American presidents and popular vote, that has happened far more often than people realize.  Among the examples (and this is may not be an exhaustive list) are

    JQ Adams 1824
    A LIncoln 1860
    R Hayes 1876
    G Cleeland 1884
    B Harrison 1888
    G Cleveland 1892
    W Wilson 1912
    H Truman 1948
    J Kennedy 1960
    R Nixon 1968
    W Clinton 1992
    W Cilnton 1996
    GW Bush 2000

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 04:27:43 AM PST

    •  corrected (none)
      Thanks! I have corrected the percentage number. The Quakers rock!

      You are right, 34% is quite different from 20%, but it is still less than 50%. In fact it is 1/3 of the votes. Still, it is shameful that so many Germans voted for the Nazis.

      You mentioned the election after Hitler became Chancellor. Well, that was right after after the Reichstag Fire. My point was that Hitler was not elected as president (unlike Chavez) and was only appointed to chancellor at a time when his party did not have a majority in the Reichstag.

    •  Also W. Wilson 1916 (none)
      it was only 6000 votes in CA which gave him a second term. I remember that when Clinton won in 1996, it was pointed out he was the first "minority" president for both terms since Wilson.
    •  Is It Analogous ?? (none)
      The U.S. Presidents elected with a plurality did so under a system in which Americans directly elect the President.  When Hitler decided to run for President of Germany, he made the runoff but Hindenberg won in a landslide with Hitler getting less than 40%. The German public clearly rejected Hitler as their leader in 1932.  Hindenberg appointed Hitler as Chancellor to appease the opposition in Parliament.  After Hindenberg died, Hitler never stood before the public for another run as President because he suspended the Constitution and used the position as Chancellor to rule as a dictator.  

      I think what Hitler to gain power would be analogous to French President Chirac dying in office and then having the Prime Minister of France suspend the Constitution, eliminate the position of President and ruling indefinitely without scheduling any future Presidential elections.  Sure the Prime Minister is the leader of the most powerful bloc in Parliament but that's not the same as winning a mandate to lead the nation in a direct election.

      So anyone saying that Hitler was 'elected' as their leader by the German people is clearly distorting history.  Rumsfeld has made this same claim to discredit his enemies on several ocassions with this swipe at Chavez just being the latest.  This distorted claim was even used by right wing nut cases to try to discredit Clinton during his Presidency.  Someone needs to call Rummy and his fellow nut jobs out on this.  IMO, the German government should file an official protest.

  •  Who Has Closer Ties To Hitler? (none)
    Comparing the democratically elected leader of Venezuela to Hitler is horribly clumsy rhetoric.  The speaker (Rumsfeld) must either be too stupid to craft finely wrought rhetoric (hardly), or believes his audience is too stupid to care (BINGO!).

    As is told  and retold,   American industrialists were heavily behind the rise of the Nazi movement.  The U.S. Republican Party was outright paying for the broadcast of Hitler speeches as the Nazis started to advance toward gaining seats in the Reichstag.  The Nazis and Hitler had no real money of their own.  Folks like Morgan/Chase, Prescott Bush, W.R. Hearst and others provided needed and timely financing.

    At the time, U.S. corporatists thought this would serve as a critical bulwark against the rise of Bolshevism that had been occurring since WWI.  The  conventional wisdom states that Hitler rose to power on the dissatisfactions of average Germans disgruntled by a failing and chaotic economy ravaged by inflation.  Well, who in the world hammered their currency?  It was a rightwing cabal of industrialists who fomented the economic collapse of Germany and sought to replace it with a model that they could do business with; same thing in Italy.

    Afterwards, if you were a soldier in the 106th being over run by the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, you may have been surprised to look up and notice that the trucks and armor bearing down on you was made by Ford or Opal (GM) and powered by synthetic ethyl supplied by interests from DuPont.  It may have truly surprised you to know the full extent of the web of interests connecting your bosses back home with the German dictator you had set out too destroy.  Knowing that the sensebilities of the soldiers may have been terribly upset at this news, the media giants involved at the time simply did not report it.

    On a basis of our business interests during the late 30s and early 40s, Germany and Italy more closely resembled Allies.  Somewhere along the line the deal went south; someone failed to keep their word, or the money stopped flowing where and when it should, and we went to war not to crush totalitarianism but to serve our corporatist masters to some end that they to this day don't feel they need to acknowledge or explain.

    "Are you hinting my apples aren't what they ought to be?" -- Apple Tree to Scarecrow & Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz"

    by obelus on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 05:29:45 AM PST

  •  I don't like Rummy anymore than I like Chavez but (none)
    c'mon, this time, Rummy was very specific on his comparison - elected democratically and consolidating power, which happens to be true.
    He said nothing about anything else.

    Rummy is an idiot who doesn't think before speaking, we all know that. Saying things like this will only fuel Chavez hatred for the "empire" and fuel he doesn't need.
     

  •  Not Knowing History (none)
    Rummy doesn't know shit- we knew that of course but the fact is Hitler was never legally elected. That's a popular myth, somehow people just want to believe Hitler was wildly popular. That was not the case. The highest vote percentage Hitler ever got was in the depression year election of 1932. Hitler stood for President of the German Republic against Paul Von Hindenburg, the aged but popular war hero. Hitler garnered 39% of the vote, it was Hitler's high water mark in legal, open elections and Hindenburg won. The real day to day power of the state was not vested in the President but in the appointive office of Chancellor, appointed by the President. Under intense pressure from the business and industrial elites who supported Hitler and against his better judgment, Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor on January 30, 1933. After the Reichstag fire - the 911 event the Nazis would use to consolidate and seal their power- there were elections for that parliamentary body on March 5th, 1933. Even after a week of turmoil and lots of fear mongering against Communists and other Nazi boogeymen, the Nazis were only able to gain a plurality in the Reichstag at 44% of the vote. 44%! In Bushworld this represents a "mandate", no wonder they think Hitler was "elected". Hitler was appointed and then dishonestly used a tragic event to achieve absolute power. There's only one head of state I can think of that Hitler's rise to power even remotely resembles. Why the thug elite always compares those they target for elimination to Hitler is not a product of historical understanding but of the manipulation of people's historical ignorance.
  •  Do Rumsfeld & Co have any self-awareness? (none)

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. William Ewart Gladstone

    by uklibdems on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 06:06:19 AM PST

  •  and why would anyone take his opinion seriously (none)
    he should have been fired long ago.  He is a war monger and and an asshole.  He just wants to make war on Chavez because he is helping poor people rather than giving oil revenue to Rumsfeld repuke friends.
  •  Doesn't apply here? (none)
    I laughed out loud when I read this line from Rumsfeld:

    "We also saw corruption in that part of the world. And corruption is something that is corrosive of democracy."

    Yes, it is. So shouldn't you do something about it here first, Rummy?

  •  I don't remember where this came from but.... (none)
    below is an interesting essay on the typical behavior and beliefs held by the Nazi's and many things are also typical of the Bush administration.

    Everyone thinks of Hitler when you say the word "fascism", but in fact, he was an atypical example. Hitler's self-aggrandizing and increasingly lawless regime didn't really fit on any of the political charts. While fascist regimes are, because of the lack of accountability, usually thuggish and corrupt, they don't necessarily become the genocidal nightmares of mass death that Germany inflicted on the world in the 1930s and 1940s. Nazism was fascism, but fascism isn't necessarily Nazism.

    Fascist regimes are hostile to liberalism, intellectuals, trade unions, and dissent. Such regimes usually erect these groups as "inner enemies of the state." Sometimes racial or ethnic groups, those that are a visible
    minority within the country, are singled out as "the rot from within."  This usually leads to institutional persecution and abuse. And foreign nations are often pointed out as an imminent danger to the Fatherland, and if the regime has the military power, they will often attack other nations "out of self-defense." Fascist regimes erect enemies, inside and out.

    While considering themselves traditional and conservative, fascist regimes usually are neither, often invoking a golden past that is either romanticized beyond any rational historian's view, and painting an idyllic past, often one eventually corrupted by the target groups. They proceed to blame these groups bitterly for this wonderful past that never was, and vow to restore the Fatherland to its greatness.

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.--Dr. Seuss

    by sweettp2063 on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 06:27:01 AM PST

  •  Herr Rumsfailed (none)
    simply should just shut up.  He's the fascist, not Chavez.
  •  Rummy's SEEMINGLY Contradictory Quotes... (none)
    "We saw dictatorships there. And then we saw most of those countries, with the exception of Cuba, for the most part move towards democracies," he said. "We also saw corruption in that part of the world. And corruption is something that is corrosive of democracy."

    The secretary acknowledged that "we've seen some populist leadership appealing to masses of people in those countries. And elections like Evo Morales in Bolivia take place that clearly are worrisome."

    "I mean, we've got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money," Rumsfeld added. "He's a person who was elected legally -- just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally -- and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others."

    So Rumsfeld says how most of Latin America moved toward Democracy but then calls a democratic election in Bolivia "troubling." He feels the legal election of Chavez and his power consolidation are Hitlerlike (of course, Bush hasn't moved to consolidate power or anything and you must be a terrorist to compare Bush to Hitler!). Would Rumsfeld rather the people of a country have no voice and rather the US just install dictators in nations across the globe?
    No, of course not, as Rummy loves democracy...even if he finds legal elections troubling...I don't get it. What kind of Democracy would he prefer...oh, perhaps one where he picks all the candidates!? OK, that would be less troubling.

  •  Sophie Scholl: The Last Days (none)
    ...nominated for an Academy Award this year for best foreign film.

    Now, if only it could find a US distributor.

    Dialog macht Sinn / Dialogue makes sense

    by DowneastDem on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 02:46:25 PM PST

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