Health Care Reform Hysteria Watch: Rush Limbaugh Equates Barack Obama with Hitler and Claims “America hangs by a thread”

Curious to read Rush Limbaugh’s take on the health care reform bill’s passage on Sunday, I went to Limbaugh’s site this morning and read his opening monologue, part of which said:

Stupak is no different than Neville Chamberlain, who came back with that little letter from Hitler, “Oh, yeah, Hitler says no war between his country and ours.” Churchill said, “Well, you’re a fool.”

After copying the inane and grotesque analogy to a draft blog entry for Prometheus Unbound  this morning, I also noticed this afternoon that Limbaugh (who calls himself a “Christian”) also put up this rather uncharitable battle cry:

We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out.  We need to chase them out of town. . . They must, my friends, be hounded out of office.  Every single Democrat who voted for this needs to know, safe district or not, that they are going to be exposed and hassled and chased from office.

I wonder how many unstable people, hearing Rush Limbaugh rant like this, might get it in their heads that violence is the next and proper step for conservative activism. In the reductio ad absurdum of far right politics, isn’t violence the logical consequence of Obama = Hitler? And if America, as Limbaugh so hysterically insists, “hangs by a thread,” doesn’t it follow that he advocates saving it by any means necessary? Or is this just conservative radio entertainment—not to be taken seriously? Here’s a bit more from him on Democrats:

As you have seen, the law will not stop them, the Constitution will not stop them, hoping that they will do the right thing will not stop them because their definition of “the right thing” has nothing in common with ours.

Nothing in common? Then what will stop them? And why speak to one another or share a country at all?

I think I prefer this:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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16 Responses to Health Care Reform Hysteria Watch: Rush Limbaugh Equates Barack Obama with Hitler and Claims “America hangs by a thread”

  1. andrewclunn says:

    He’s right though. The standard democratic definition of ‘right’ involves being a busy body and lifting up the “least of these” as some kind of icon to charity. This view is completely incompatible with a view of morality founded on freedom. Rush makes more and more sense every day.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Andrew:

    Limbaugh makes sense when he compares Obama to Hitler?

    Really?

    As for health care reform, human beings evolved freedom and consciousness, but they also evolved in social groups and families. To fully express the human being, one need not make the choice between these two facts in the form of Rush Limbaugh’s either/or proposition. If the nation is not, at some level, a family that provides some collective safety net and dignity for all of its members, then why call it a nation at all? Freedom and compassionately walking in the shoes of others are two human traits that we can be balanced in civilized society. I think that when one engages in the politics of humanity you seek political policies that balance the full range of human expression and do your best to promote human flourishing.

    Both liberals and libertarians have important things to bring to the table and a reasonable deal can be struck between them. I think that this health care bill demonstrates that. A good deal of the bill’s innovations percolated in conservative think tanks of the 1990s, and it is also based on what Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts: the group market is left alone and the flaws of the individual market are made less noxious.

    Republicans of 2010 are free to demagogue this for political purposes (as they are), but the reality is that the Massachusetts plan works and the federal plan based on the same model will work as well.

    —Santi

    • andrewclunn says:

      I of course think the analogy between Hitler is a mischaracterization. That’s not where I was agreeing with Rush (And of course I can agree with some things that someone says and not all, just as you can.)

      You seem to seek compromise, but compromise on your terms, and by that I mean compromise where freedom is allowed, but only to the extent where it does not violate the concepts of ‘humanity’ and ’empathy.’ But if there is any weakness to that argument it is the in the weakness of the values expressed in them. By what line or what standard should this compromise be struck? At what point am I not accountable for the lives and concerns of others and accountable simply for and to myself?

      There is never any such line offered by those who advocate through guilt (which they label as ‘compassion’) collectivism. And the compromise always seems to head in one direction. Doctors may not turn away those who can not pay, because to do so would be inhuman. Certain foods and activities may be restricted or banned even if they do no harm to any but the individual consumer (the justification being that in the end we all pay higher health care premiums because uninsured smokers and the like.)

      So now I will be fined unless I purchase care, from an ever restricting number of choices of insurance plans (as the government regulates further what they must cover.) And now I’m being told full to my face that I (as a young healthy individual making decent money) must carry the poor and infirm. It is my duty. A duty thrust on me by self deluded politicians who like to think of themselves as heroes while they give away other people’s money. No this is no time for compromise. No time at all. This is the time to draw the line in the sand.

    • Sirrahc says:

      How exactly does one “evolve” freedom? Seems to me, depending on the particular liberty, you either just have it by virtue of circumstance or it is granted to you by another in control/authority.

      Re: RomneyCare

      Since being enacted in 2006, premiums in Mass. have gone up by 30%/year in the individual market. Their average insurance premiums are the highest in the country, and now they are about to impose cost controls to try to stop the bleeding (so to speak). Small business costs have increased by 5.8% and the state’s health expenditures per capita is now 27% higher than the national average.

      This is not a model I want my healthcare system based on, no matter where it came from.

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  4. santitafarella says:

    Andrew:

    You asked: “At what point am I not accountable for the lives and concerns of others and accountable simply for and to myself?”

    There is not one right and permanent answer to that question, and you have to ask it of yourself afresh each day.

    If the government, by a democratic process, can collectively stabilize some of the verities of life, but at a price that you think is too high, you will attempt to vote in a different group of politicians or stop paying your taxes.

    But if your position is to be principled, then you should also opt out of any benefits the state might wish to make available to you. If you truly mean to stand alone, then do so. Thoreau did.

    If an earthquake, for example, were to hit your city, an unpaid volunteer might well pull you out of the rubble, or someone paid for by FEMA. Or perhaps the building you might be in didn’t collapse because strict building code enforcement made it more durable than it otherwise would have been.

    “No man is an island; each is a part of the main.” Heroic vitalism is one aspect of human existence, but not the whole: sometimes people need each other.

    No one wants a dependent underclass, and guilt is not the issue. The issue is what kind of a country do you want to live in? I want to live in a country where no one who is an American finds themselves losing their home because they have a catastrophic illness and no medical insurance. It’s a travesty of basic decency that the country has tolerated such things to happen for so long.

    And health issues affect all of us. People who get, say, TB or H1N1, and don’t go to a doctor and get treated, can spread the disease further. There are some things that our collective existence can ameliorate without overburdening the heroic vitalists. But like so many things in life, there is no wholly satisfactory answer to the right balance. Reasonable people can work this out. Hysteria is a poor substitute for reason.

    —Santi

    • andrewclunn says:

      Not paying my taxes isn’t really an option. The government tends to come after people who do that. And believing that voluntary and free actions can usually solve a problem more effectively than centralized control is not hysteria. What may be hysteria is my belief that this will of course not end here. Now that there’s the justification of “we’re all in this together” just wait for the further restrictions on lifestyle choices in the name of reducing health care costs for all.

    • Sirrahc says:

      “There is not one right and permanent answer to that question, and you have to ask it of yourself afresh each day.”

      Sounds like you’re espousing a form of moral relativism, at least for this particular issue. That would imply that no moral “system” is truly, inherently any better than another. So, why do you try to convince others to see things your way? I mean, when it comes down to it, you think you’re right & they’re wrong. Right?

      • santitafarella says:

        Sirrahc:

        With regards to what is likely to bring about human flourishing, I think that some answers are objectively better than others, and so I’m not a moral relativist, and yes, of course I think that health care reform will bring about more human flourishing in the United States than it takes away. That’s why I support it. But Andrew asked a particular question about one’s individual life, and for that I think it is impossible to answer definitively. Each of us, in our peculiar and historically contingent existences, must answer the “what should I devote myself to” question for ourselves. There’s no satisfying philosophical or religious answer that I know of that can tell you where, exactly, to split the difference between private and aesthetic flourishing and social duty. I think that this is a lesson that we learn from classic literature: does Antigone bury her brother or obey the king? If the answer between private flourishing and one’s obligation to others—family or countrymen—was an easy one, Euripides’s play would be uninteresting.

        A second example: Sartre was once asked by a young man whether he should join the French resistance to the Nazis or look after his ailing mother. Sartre suggested that there was no answer to the young man’s question, but added: “Nevertheless, you must choose.”

        If you think that there are objective answers to such questions, please share them.

        —Santi

      • Andrew Clunn says:

        santitafarella,

        Are you aware of the works of Ludwig Von Mises? It might be that even by your own standards the approach you advocate is flawed.

      • santitafarella says:

        Yes, I’ve read Mises—including his big book “Socialism.”

        —Santi

  5. Pingback: Rush Limbaugh and a Disturbing New Authoritarian Phenomenon: The Brick Throwing “Patriot” « Prometheus Unbound

  6. Sirrahc says:

    As usual, I’m afraid you’re either misunderstanding or mischaracterizing what Rush said.

    The analogy was between Stupak and Chamberlain. In both cases you have someone wanting so badly to think everything would work out OK that they allowed themselves to be snowed by the rhetoric and assurances of someone/thing that represented a very real danger.

    The nature & seriousness of the threat may not be on the same scale, but the analogy holds.

  7. santitafarella says:

    Sirrahc:

    The only way that the analogy holds is if you regard Barack Obama as having the demonological traits of Hitler. Stupack is Chamberlain, Obama is in the Hitler position of the analogy, and Limbaugh in the Churchill position. Most of the time, when we reach an agreement with someone, we can trust them that they have the basic human decency and integrity to follow through. Limbaugh is suggesting that Obama is not a man of his word but tricking people into believing that he is a nice guy (as Hitler did with Chamberlain). Limbaugh thinks that Obama is the Hitlerian enemy within, ruthlessly changing the country fundamentally under the veneer of a smile and false signing agreements. It’s all ridiculous and paranoid and sets our first African American president up as a nefarious enemy of the “people,” Stupak being the latest dupe of his sinister machinations.

    The reality is that Obama is just another bourgeois American politician—working within the constraints of a democracy—and arriving at a compromise to achieve a piece of legislation. Limbaugh’s totalitarian analogy is thus outrageous.

    —Santi

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