BY ALEX GORDON
Having access to the New York Times on the web has been a true boon to my existence. With a few mouse clicks, I’m instantly linked to the finest sports section in the world while completely risk-free from staining my fingers and clothes with newsprint.
Occasionally, a headline from one of the less-important sections will grab my attention, and give me pause before I click to sports. Recently, I spotted a headline so offensive that I went right to the international news.
It read: “Bush-Hitler Remark Shows U.S. An Issue In German Election” and the accompanying article contained the following introductory lines: “The regional newspaper Schwäbisches Tagblatt said today that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s justice minister, Herta Däubler-Gmelin, had said: “Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It’s a classic tactic. It’s one that Hitler also used.” Her remarks were reportedly made on Sunday during a conversation with representatives of the trade union IG Metall. Evidently, the comments referred to Bush’s “tactics” concerning possible military action to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Daubler-Gmelin first attempted to clarify, then outright denied making the comment, though several witnesses have come forward saying they heard her utter the remark. Schroder subsequently apologized for any offense the “misunderstanding” may have caused.
Being a proud Democrat, I would not rank Bush high on my list of revered government officials, and I still fervently hope that he will be unceremoniously returned to the private sector in the next election. However, the fact remains that he is the president of my country, and while I don’t hesitate to be critical, I’m slightly more hesitant to stand for foreign criticism of George W. and the U.S. by implication. For anyone to make any sort of comparison of President Bush to Adolf Hitler would be offensive in and of itself.
Hitler’s Third Reich is the greatest evil that has ever been visited upon this world. He led the entire world into a bloody and merciless war that claimed countless lives and shattered entire nations. He masterminded the systematic extermination of millions of my fellow Jews simply because they were Jews. In a word, Hitler was a monster. Given the pure evil associated with Hitler and the Third Reich, it is incomprehensible that any rational individual could draw a comparison between him and any U.S. president. Claiming that the comparison was between their “tactics” does not mitigate the outrageousness of the remark. Unlike Hitler, the U.S. and President Bush are considering the ouster of a dangerous madman who may or may not possess weapons of mass destruction. Hitler successfully managed to convince an all-too-gullible German population that they were not to blame for their military defeat and unbearable living and economic conditions. Faced with abject misery brought about largely by a purely punitive peace treaty, Germans were more than willing to follow Hitler back to national prosperity, without regard for the millions who would perish along the way. While the U.S. is certainly not in the midst of a Golden Age of national prosperity, neither is it teetering on the brink of extermination. This country, like all nations today, is faced with many complex and maddening problems. However, the chances of a military dictator akin to Hitler assuming power are laughably minuscule.
The Germany of today owes a great debt of gratitude to the United States for its very existence. Had the U.S. and its allies acquiesced to the Soviets in the post-World War II era, Germany would have developed quite differently. Perhaps the current German government should check its own history before resorting to America bashing as a campaign ploy. Despite the astronomically small chances that this will occur, I would call for Ms. Daubler-Gmelin’s immediate resignation, as well as an admission and personal apology from the cabinet secretary for her inexplicable and outrageous defamation of our president.