The Bedside Manner of a Gestapo Officer

The Bedside Manner of a Gestapo Officer

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on the campaign trail.


Admittedly, whatever a person thinks or however a person feels about Ben Carson's policy positions, it's a considerable challenge to hold together the observations of Iowan farmer Miriam Greenfield, "That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted," with Carson's rhetorical preference for analogies to Nazi Germany: "We live in a Gestapo age, people don't realize it"; "The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."

Calling it Holocaust Analogy Syndrome, Rabbi David Wolpe describes the phenomenon as "a rhetorical disease that stalks the land." "Carson's argument combines all the worst features of blaming the victims and demonstrates a lamentable lack of historical knowledge," writes Wolpe.

Perhaps most disturbing, from my perspective, is a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll in which "77 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers said they found Carson's statements about Hitler and guns attractive," according to the Washington Post. In discussing his recent rise in the polls, a New York Times article declared, "Mr. Carson’s provocative comments on topics like Nazism and slavery, which pundits and commentators regularly denounce, seem only to deepen the enthusiasm his evangelical base feels for him."

The Jesus-follower-in-me finds this enthusiasm indescribably shameful. As the journalist and Op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus says, "You don't have to be German, or a student of German history, to grasp the repugnance of Nazi analogies." Then, in one sentence, the rabbi implores all of us to watch our political and cultural bedside manner:

To use these events is unseemly. It is insulting to those who suffered and to the intelligence of the body politic.
— Rabbi David Wolpe

Ben Carson.

Photo: John Minchillo, The Associated Press.


The (Noisy) Sounds of Silence

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