Sunday, October 25, 2009

That Didn't Last Long

Recently, in the face of rampant Holocaust appropriation (primarily, though not exclusively on the right), the ADL managed to secure an apology from Southern Baptist leader Richard Land for comparing Democratic advocates of health care reform to Nazis.

"I apologize to everyone who found such references hurtful," Dr. Land wrote. "Given the pain and suffering of so many Jewish and other victims of the Nazi regime, I will certainly seek to exercise far more care in my use of language in future discussions of the issues at stake in the healthcare debate."

About one week later, it looks like Dr. Land has reneged on his promise.
Despite apologizing in a letter dated Oct. 14 to Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Land backed away from that apology in a Baptist Press article on Oct. 21.

The article's author, a vice president at the ERLC, wrote that Land "still believes there are connections to be made between some underlying philosophies held by the Germans and others in the first half of the 20th century, and certain elements under discussion in the health care reform debate today."

Land argued that the philosophies of some of those pushing health-care reform "bear a lethal similarity in their attitudes toward the elderly and the terminally ill and could ultimately lead to the kinds of things the Nazis did." Land also attacked those who were attempting "to remove the Third Reich as a subject of discussion when it comes to the healthcare debate."

He denied, however, that accusing health-care reform proponents of pushing ideas similar to the "very lethal and deadly philosophies loose in 20th century Germany prior to the Nazis' ascendancy to power" and arguing that such ideas "could be carried to such an extreme at some time in the future" was the same as comparing Democrats to the Nazis.

The speed at which Dr. Land reverted to Nazi comparisons suggests that his first apology was disingenuous. The ADL, for its part, sounds to me like it is holding its fire until it gets something more concrete out of Dr. Land. But unless he was misquoted and repudiates the aforementioned quote, I don't think he has a leg to stand on. Dr. Land, who originally defended his first Nazi remarks by saying "the analogy is apt and I stand by it" before the ADL got involved, clearly hasn't learned his lesson -- and equally clearly, it seems like the ADL is the only organization which can keep him in line (if only briefly). If Dr. Land won't desist from horribly offensive Nazi comparisons, the ADL needs to stand up and label his bigotry for what it is.

H/T: Steve Benen.

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