It appears that if you’re a liberal Democrat the ADL is a lot more likely to accuse you of abusing the Holocaust than if you’re a conservative Republican. Let’s take the recent case of Ted Turner who’s had a running battle (“war” might be a better term for it) with Rupert Murdoch going back to the days when their respective media empires clashed constantly over business deals and other matters.
Ted Turner: did he misuse Holocaust? (credit: Adage.com)
Ted has a history of rather intemperate remarks against poor old Rupert. And of course since we all know Rupert is a spotless exemplar of civility and good behavior toward his enemies, we’re shocked, I say shocked to hear that Ted has again invoked Hitler’s rise to power in describing Fox News popularity. According to an Ad Age story (registration required), here’s what Ted said to a group of media executives in Las Vegas recently:
Commenting on his feelings about Fox News topping CNN in the ratings, Mr. Turner said being the most popular wasn’t always important. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though I’m not happy about it. Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany than people who ran against him. Just because you are bigger doesn’t mean to say you are right.”
Along comes that anti-Semitism fighter extraordinnaire, Abe Foxman of the ADL to take on the ogre Ted. Foxman released this news release (ADL: Ted Turner Hasn’t Learned From His Mistakes) about the remarks:
According to reports, Mr. Turner this week lashed out at Fox News, telling an audience of programming executives in Las Vegas that the network’s popularity among Americans has similarities to Hitler’s rise to power in prewar Germany.
“Once again, Ted Turner can’t seem to learn his lesson,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “You tell him it’s wrong, it’s offensive, it’s inappropriate, it’s degrading to the memory of the six million. He apologizes – then does it again. He’s a recidivist who hasn’t learned from his past mistakes. Well, Mr. Turner, apologies are good, but learning from your mistakes is better.”
Ann Coulter is another Fox-type pundit Abe Foxman refuses to confront
when she attacks Jewish liberals (credit: Striporama.com)
Well, let’s point out a few problems here. First, the ADL’s characterization of Turner’s statement, “[he said that] the network’s popularity among Americans has similarities to Hitler’s rise to power in prewar Germany” is an oversimplification. Why couldn’t the ADL quote the actual remarks instead of paraphrasing them? Perhaps, because they need to set Turner up like a straw man so they can swat him down just as easily. What Turner actually said was that just as Hitler managed to get more votes than any other candidate and so become the most popular politician in Germany, so too Fox News has become the most popular all news cable network. The popularity of both concealed troubling issues lurking beneath the surface (well, not really beneath the surface since the problems in each case were fairly plain to see).
That being said, would I have made such a statement if I were Ted? No. Was his comparison apt? Well, it wasn’t the most elegant comparison. But Ted Turner isn’t the most elegant guy in the world. He’s blustery, intemperate, obstinate and downright difficult. Not the nicest guy in the world. But the ADL news release is a case of using charges of anti-Semitism and misuse of the Holocaust as political weapons. The fact is that the ADL and Abe Foxman are the darlings of conservative Republicans. They are not dispassionate keepers of the flame when it comes to protecting Jewish interests and fighting anti-Semitism. And in this case they’re guilty of selective prosecution.
Why? Let’s review the case of Grover Norquist. Norquist is one of the Bush Administration’s top political consultants, a political soulmate of Karl Rove. In an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross (listen here), Grover made an incredibly distasteful comparison of Democrats opposed to repeal of the estate tax to Nazi persecution of the Jews. How does anyone in their right mind say that Democrats are persecuting the rich in the same way that Nazis hunted Jews? Disgusting remarks. Deserving of being repudiated by those watchdogs of anti-Semitism, the ADL. So what did the ADL have to say on the matter? Nothing. I even e mailed them on their site and asked them to point me to any statement that the organization might’ve made on the issue. No response. And Norquist got away with murder and no one (that I know of) in the mainstream Jewish leadership took him to task. That’s shameful.
So who’s fooling who here? The ADL uses the shadow of the Holocaust as a political cudgel. Any statements that they make on any public issue should be judged on that basis.
Thanks to Tim Karr of Mediacitizen.org for turning me on to this story.