The Keith Ellison-9/11-Reichstag story is so old it's growing fungi. Michael C. Moynihan blogged it on July 9, and I blogged a slightly different take on July 16. It's more than a week since Ellison compared 9/11 to the Reichstag fire and who should arrive over the horizon, toting his own soapbox, but Abe Foxman: The Bill Donohue of anti-anti-Semitism. Or maybe Bill Donohue is the Abe Foxman of mythical anti-Catholic bigotry. Really, who cares?
Congressman Keith Ellison's comments comparing the rise of Nazism in the aftermath of the burning of the Reichstag to the War on Terror in the aftermath of 9/11 is outrageous and offensive to all Americans. Whatever his views may be on the Administration's response to 9/11 and the conduct of the War on Terrorism, likening it to Hitler's rise to power and Nazism is odious and demeans the victims of 9/11 and the brave American men and women engaged in the War on Terror. Furthermore, it demonstrates a profound lack of understanding about the horrors that Hitler and his Nazi regime perpetrated.
Look: No. No, it doesn't. It reflects a little historical laziness and unfamiliarity with the sinking of the Maine or the Gulf of Tonkin, both of which would have been better analogies. But as I argued at length two years ago, when Dick Durbin disgraced the memory of 6 million Jews by saying he didn't groove on legal torture, Nazi analogies don't minimize the Holocaust. That's especially true if you're referring to things the Nazis did long before the Final Solution. Ellison was comparing the Reichstag fire and its consequences—the crackdown on the Communist Party, the Enabling Act—with 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, and the Iraq War. That's still a huge, stupid overstatement, but since when do we flagellate members of Congress for hyperbole?
Republicans who want an issue to beat the Democrats on and don't seem too interested in the big glowing briefcase labelled "official corruption" are going after Ellison. Here's a statement by Eric Cantor and Zach Wamp, who'd probably get over the whole ordeal if only Fred Thompson would rock him on his knee and sing "Hush-a-Bye."