Does Eric Yoffie Owe Conservatives an Apology?
In a story about how the Jewish left is trying to counter the Christian right, The Washington Times claims Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, "compared the religious right to Nazis" in a speech on November 19. I'm not so sure. Here is the offending quotation:
We understand those who believe that the Bible opposes gay marriage, even though we read that text in a very different way. But we cannot understand why any two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other should be denied legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society. We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations. And today, we cannot feel anything but rage when we hear about gay men and women, some on the front lines, being hounded out of our armed services. Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry.
I take Yoffie to be saying that Jews are especially sensitive to anti-gay bigotry because they perceive a connection to anti-Semitism, as reflected in the Nazi context. He may also be implying that if Hitler did it, it must be bad–a fallacious argument that is by no means limited to the left. (How often do we hear from defenders of the Second Amendment that "one of the first things" Hitler did upon taking power was to impose gun control?) But Yoffie is explicitly not saying that opponents of gay marriage are Nazis, and I don't think he's being disingenuous. Am I being too generous?