In his new book To Save America, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich repeatedly argues that the Obama administration and congressional Democrats make up a “secular-socialist machine” that “represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.” Since the book has come out, Gingrich has doubled down on this rhetoric, going on NBC and saying that the Obama administration is as much of a “threat” to America as brutal dictators like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were.
Everyone from Jewish groups to former GOP lawmakers to conservative journalists have criticized Gingrich for his comparison. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Gingrich whether what he was saying was “wildly over the top.” (Gingrich replied that it wasn’t.) Former GOP lawmaker Susan Molinari, who served while Gingrich was Speaker, went out of her way to distance herself from him, saying that to “compare anything that is going on in this country to the atrocities of Nazi Germany in any way, shape or form is just crazy.” MSNBC host and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough called Gingrich’s comparison “shameful,” and the American Jewish Committee put out a statement urging the Republican Party to separate itself from Gingirich:
“By invoking the current Administration in the same breath as two murderous totalitarian states, Newt Gingrich has drawn a foolish and dangerous analogy,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Gingrich’s linkage not only diminishes the horror of the Holocaust, it also licenses the use of extremist language in contemporary America.” […]
“It is vital that the Republican leadership say clearly that such analogies are unacceptable,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, as the recent controversy over the new immigration law in Arizona also demonstrates, demonizing political opponents as Nazis is becoming all too common in American political debate.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abe Foxman also sent Gingrich a letter on May 23, stating, “Regardless of how one feels about President Obama and his policies, comparing his administration — even indirectly — to Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia is profoundly offensive.” Yesterday, Gingrich sent Foxman a letter backing away from his earlier rhetoric:
As I told you on the phone, I recognize the horror and the evil of the Nazi regime and nothing in my new book To Save America should be interpreted as a statement of moral equivalence between totalitarian regimes and the secular-socialist left. My intent instead was to define the scale of the challenge to classic American civilization posed by secular-socialism.
Note that Gingrich has not yet apologized for his comparisons. Hopefully, however, his statement that there isn’t an “equivalence” between “totalitarian regimes and the secular-socialist left” means that going forward, he will no longer be making comparisons between Democrats and Nazis. In response to his call with Gingrich, Foxman said, “As we have said many times before, Holocaust or Nazi comparisons are inappropriate and have no place in American political discourse. After personally speaking with Newt, I believe that he understands this and will be more careful with his words in the future.”