Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kansas DNC delegate Pat Lehman drops the H-bomb

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Kansas Dems are making headlines.
  • Kansas Dems are making headlines.
Hitler is back in the news. Pat Lehman, the dean of Kansas Democratic delegates, talked to the Wichita Eagle about the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Tuesday. At the end of a piece that was ostensibly about what the Dems will focus on at the DNC, Lehman made herself the story by dismissing Republicans' contention that Voter ID laws are about preventing voter fraud:

“It’s like Hitler said, if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big lie, and if you tell it often enough and say it in a loud enough voice, some people are going to believe you."

I get that Lehman was matching rhetoric for rhetoric. It's what we do, and what our rights allow, in the United States. Still, it's time to take Hitler out of the discussion.

Comparisons between Nazi Germany and modern-day America need to be left to historical fiction. Throwing Hitler around casually does two things immediately: It cheapens the horrific acts perpetrated under Hitler, and it prevents rational discussion. Conservatives and those on the right are up in arms over Lehman's comments. And in the controversy over what she said, an actual debate over Voter ID laws is not feasible. If Lehman really wanted to combat what she sees as a flawed justification for voter regulation, she should have been presenting the Wichita Eagle with facts to make her case. It might be a less compelling sound bite, but it would likely generate the kinds of discussions that we're sorely lacking in the political arena.

Lehman was not the only person to evoke Nazis this week. California Democratic Chairman John Burton compared Republicans with Joseph Goebbels. Burton has since apologized, but the cow had long left the barn by that point.

We live in a country where one is free to compare anything with Hitler. And Lehman exercised her right of free speech. It just would have been nice if she had decided to exercise a bit of discretion instead.

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