Widening Gyre

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We had a number of emails last night discussing how much of what we’re hearing from the right now should be considered incitement. There are numerous instances of anti-reform advocates explicitly comparing President Obama’s health care plan to the Holocaust, for instance — jumping from the hideous and outrageous claim that reform means euthanasia and going from there. We get desensitized to this stuff. But it’s worth taking a moment to give that a long think — comparing the president’s reform plan to the Holocaust.

Most significant here is not the right-wing liars and demagogues making this stuff up but the fact that they’ve convinced a significant number of their followers that this stuff is true. That’s a very dangerous situation.We should also keep in mind that the birther-mania, as comical as it is on one level, is all part of the same fabric with the Hitler and Holocaust comparisons, an aggressive process of denigration and dehumanization, dressed up around claims about paperwork and places of birth, but all escalating and churning the belief of a minority of Americans that President Obama is not a legitimate president but rather a usurper.

It’s always important for us to remember what the last eight years have again taught us, which is that America has a very strong civic fabric, one that can withstand, absorb and conquer all manner of ugly behavior. It can take in stride a lot of angry rhetoric, townhall fisticuffs and more.

But as this escalates we should continually be stepping back and thinking retrospectively from the vantage point of the future about where this all seems to be heading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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