It is Now Officially OK to Make World War II References

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Earlier today, David Axelrod described Mitt Romney’s wall-to-wall advertising campaign in Illinois as a Mittzkrieg. The Romney campaign immediately cranked up the high dudgeon meter to 11:

At a time when there is so much talk about the need for civility in political discourse, it is disturbing to see President Obama’s top campaign advisor casually throw Nazi imagery around in reference to a Republican candidate for President. Holocaust and Nazi imagery are always inappropriate in the political arena. Axelrod should apologize for his offensive language.

We call on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to publicly rebuke Axelrod for his language. We hope that the National Jewish Democratic Council will join us in denouncing Axelrod’s comment, as they have frequently denounced Holocaust imagery in politics in the past.

That’s it. I’ve had enough. I officially declare that it’s now OK to use World War II imagery anytime you want. It’s OK to make Nazi references. It’s OK to compare people to Hitler. Go ahead! You have my blessing.

This whole thing is ridiculous, and I’m sick of it from all sides. WWII references are handy shorthand because everyone immediately understands them. There’s nothing wrong with this. If you go overboard, people will mock you. If your analogies are wrong, people will correct you. If you literally say that someone is as bad as Hitler, you will be called an idiot. (Unless, of course, you’re really talking about someone as bad as Hitler. But that’s a pretty short list.) But the mere fact that you used a WWII/Hitler reference? Not an issue any longer.

It’s probably still wise to take it easy on Holocaust imagery. But merely making a comparison of some modern-day event to something that happened in WWII, or something that Hitler did, or some well-known practice of Nazi Germany? If it’s the obvious analogy to use, then use it. And let’s all quit the pearl clutching, OK?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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