Fringe Group Pushes ‘Nazi’ Analogy

Making Comparisons: A Lyndon LaRouche follower who said that President Obama’s health care plans amounted to a ‘Nazi policy’ was compared by Rep. Barney Frank to ‘a dining room table.’
Getty Images
Making Comparisons: A Lyndon LaRouche follower who said that President Obama’s health care plans amounted to a ‘Nazi policy’ was compared by Rep. Barney Frank to ‘a dining room table.’

By Nathan Guttman

Published September 02, 2009, issue of September 11, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When Rep. Barney Frank was asked by a woman at a health care town hall meeting, “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?” the Massachusetts Democrat had a ready reply. “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” he shot back at the questioner, who was toting one of the now-infamous Obama-as-Hitler posters. Frank explained that he would not discuss the issue with her, since it would be like “trying to argue with a dining room table.”

Footage of the exchange from the August 17 meeting in Dartmouth, Mass., has aired widely on television and circulated on the Internet, with many applauding Frank’s response as an appropriately acerbic rejoinder to the wild rhetoric swirling around the health care debate.

But while much of the fighting over health care reform has broken down along traditional ideological lines, some of the most extreme rhetoric at the town hall meetings has been fueled by a cult-like sect led by eccentric conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche. Indeed, the woman who confronted Frank has been identified as a member of the LaRouche Youth Movement.

According to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, the use of Nazi imagery and references by LaRouche supporters has been widespread and is often seen at health care town hall meetings.

“Since May we’ve seen LaRouche re-energize his supporters around the debate over health care, mainly by using Holocaust imagery as a tool,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

Sign of the Times: Rep. Barney Frank looks at a sign held by followers of fringe figure Lyndon LaRouche comparing President Obama to Hitler outside an August 18 town hall meeting.
Getty Images
Sign of the Times: Rep. Barney Frank looks at a sign held by followers of fringe figure Lyndon LaRouche comparing President Obama to Hitler outside an August 18 town hall meeting.

LaRouche followers, of course, are not the only people injecting Nazi analogies into the health care debate, as the ADL report notes. When public discussion on health care reform began in May, a conservative Christian group, the California-based Traditional Values Coalition, posted on its Web site a photo-shopped image of President Obama wearing a Nazi uniform. Right-wing pundit Rush Limbaugh used his nationally syndicated radio show to compare the Democratic Party to the Nazis and argued that the logo chosen for Obama’s healthcare reform campaign has an “overwhelming” similarity to the Nazi swastika.

But while Limbaugh is a major figure in the conservative movement, LaRouche has been a fixture on the margins of the American political scene for decades, repeatedly mounting quixotic presidential bids in Democratic primaries. Now 86, LaRouche remains one of the country’s most prolific disseminators of conspiracy theories, with his network of supporters, Web sites and print publications. Many of these conspiracy theories involve threats of a British takeover of American public policy or Jewish groups and individuals exercising nefarious influence.

The ADL’s report, published on August 21, notes a total of eight instances in which LaRouche activists tried to disrupt town hall meetings and carried slogans and posters equating Obama with Hitler. The Web site of the LaRouche Political Action Committee invites visitors to download a poster of Obama with a Hitler moustache superimposed on his face. It also features reading materials and video advancing the Obama-Hitler analogy, based upon LaRouche’s interpretation of the president’s proposed health care reform plan.

Segal said that while Nazi imagery has long been deployed by LaRouche and his followers, today such tactics are receiving much more attention. “The reason it resonates is because of his ability to use imagery that demonizes Obama and his administration in a way that is appealing to some of those who have legitimate concerns about health care,” Segal said.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com






Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.