James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Does Limbaugh think U.S. Marines are Nazis?

Posted by James McPherson on August 7, 2009

Let me make clear up front: I don’t think the idiots who are protesting proposed health care improvements are Nazis, nor do I think the morons who keep comparing Barack Obama to Hitler (or to Osama bin Laden) represent more than an ignorant minority of conservatives, representative of the “birther” loons.

Nor did I think appropriate when some liberal nuts compared George W. Bush to Hitler. Anything that brings Godwin’s Law immediately to mind weakens one’s argument, and the folks who make such statements (including the one on a conservative site who made me chuckle by referring to me in the comments section as “Herr Goebbels.”) tend to have problems with rational argumentation, anyway.

Unfortunately, the current nutball minority includes Rush Limbaugh, who inexplicably still has influence with a mostly mindless subgroup of Republicans–a fact that continues to help Democrats gain more sympathy than they would ever get for their own actions (or inaction).

Rush compares Barack Obama’s symbol for health care reform (and there’s no denying that the Obama folks love their winged symbols) to a Nazi symbol. For the record, both symbols are  below, as shared by Limbaugh–followed by the symbols for the U.S. Marine Corp and the American Medical Association (a comparison I saw earlier today on msnbc).

August 16 update: Because I have written strongly in favor of public activism, I assumed–incorrectly, based on one off-blog comment, so I apologize for my assumption–that readers would understand that I don’t consider all health care protesters to be idiots (or liars, either, for that matter). In fact, there is plenty to dislike about the various proposals from either the right or the left.

And I don’t even particularly care about the “Astroturf” nature of some of the protests. Anything that gets people off of their butts and out of the anonymous shadows of cyberspace is good for democracy–at least if those people are as willing to listen and to let others participate as they are to voice their opinions (especially if those opinions are based on what’s actually proposed, rather than on fictions such as “death panels” and social security cuts).

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17 Responses to “Does Limbaugh think U.S. Marines are Nazis?”

  1. Luis Lopez said

    I know you wrote this post a little while back, Jim, but I found an editorial from the Detroit Free Press a couple of days ago that dovetails nicely with your post: http://www.freep.com/article/20090821/OPINION05/908210329/1322/If-you-think-Obama-is-like-the-Nazis–you-need-a-history-lesson&template=fullarticle

  2. http://thehyacinthgirl.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/hm/#comment-2652

    Dear Dr. McPherson.

    While I am all over the Net on some days on various search-and-destroy missions, and surely your name is seen here at April’s site more than once, I can assure you of two things right off the bat:

    First, you are not an obsession for me. No offense is intended.

    (The lofty souls at the Department of Motor Vehicles are not on my Things to Do List either on most days.)

    Second, I find it rather Orwellian to accuse others of a “guilty conscience” for merely proffering notions about individual liberty, and being a free-born citizen who can (or would like permission to) make vital life and health decision like grown ups used to do. Or for that matter wonder aloud why my medical bills are anyone else’s damned business–regardless of the sops to illegal aliens and other putatively noble causes that generally accompany the dawn of government aquisition of the economy.

    To be sure, there are others who’d agree with you on this point and currently outnumber yours truly when it comes to posting at places like the Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/21/AR2009082101778_Comments.html

    Swtolbert (and others)intoxicated by the ‘rugged individualism’ meme seem to have forgotten that government exists because ‘we the people’ band together for the common good, to achieve economies of scale and to obviate the need to keep reinventing the wheel. Even to (gasp!) HELP each other. Making sure that everyone has access to health care (and that the system operates as cost effectively as possible) benefits each of us because it benefits all of us. The idea that government is the enemy and its advantages are subversive is nothing but a deluded form of self-hatred.

    Lovely. Hell. What on earth can one say to that?

    Can’t wait the big follow-up from Keith Olbermann.

    As far as direct quotes, I did not mine those or claim you said things in quite that manner. BUT, I know tenditiousness in thinking when I see it.

    Lastly, I’m not an HTML head (yet) and the whole pingback thing eludes me at the moment.

    However, I will pull out all the stops to make sure you find this, if that’s what you mean and need as a show of respect.

    Which honestly I beg you to believe I DO respect you and your profession and station in life–as I certainly do.

    🙂

    Thanks.

  3. James McPherson said

    Thanks, Wakefield, for tracking me down, and for the comments. You’re one of the people I most enjoy reading over at the other site. As you also know, I respect you more because you’re willing to put your name with your opinions, even though I disagree with most of those opinions.

    I haven’t been over there much lately because the range of perspectives seemed to have pretty much been exhausted, with the regulars all locked into predictable positions. With the limited time we all have, I’d rather speak to folks who might consider actual discussion and even perhaps the possibility of changing one’s mind (or even not feeling obligated to pick a side on every issue).

    I also realize that I reach more readers with a single letter to the editor of my local newspaper than with a dozen posts on a typical blog (including this one, especially since I quit posting regularly a few months ago). I also have little interest in tattoos, body piercing, or critiquing the looks of actors I’ve barely heard of, all topics that seemed to be increasing in frequency over there. They’re valid topics, of course–I just don’t happen to care about them. Thanks again.

  4. Wakefield Tolbert said

    Well, I freely admit to enjoying the banter over there.

    I’m not into April’s stuff about actors and licking honey off of chests.

    We’re both male, however, and you’ll forgive me for actually hanging around because of the mere imagery of April licking honey off of chests, etc.

    She is sorta cute.

    And she has a way of getting her point down crisply. The regulars are good people and funny in their own right.

    As far as reaching people, that’s an interesting point. You’re probably correct that a single note to the paper in the opinion section will be more oft read than any one blog posts. I used to write frequently to the local paper on various topics and found the response was more voluminous and they even invited me to a local “responder’s” conference of sorts to meet some of the people who bantered about things in Gwinnett County.

    But I can’t do it all. And to try is a fool’s errand in my book.

    I enjoy blogging more for myself than for anyone else, but lately it is far more in-between everything else going on. If your’re one of those guys who fends off the day’s tiredness and get squeeze in the latest happenings, more power to you, brother.

    I can’t do that anymore. I can’t make a conservative equivalent of Pandagon or Daily Kos. However, that leads to boredom in people in an entertainment culture, and so I’m reduced to getting the posts down that reflect just personal observations on SOME things, even though I don’t reveal pesonal info all that much on the blog.

    The point is, I don’t get much traffic either.

    I’m just a plain conservative Christian (on most issues) who has kids and a house and a dog and lots of bills, and while having a few theological spots here and there, am NOT a theologian, so I hang around and occasionally blog about things political. I try not to be overbearing and decided that for my own space would not be piling on about unfortunate men like Ted Kennedy’s legacy, for example.

    Thanks.

  5. James McPherson said

    Well said. As noted elsewhere, I’m a liberal (on most issues, despite our mutual friend’s determination to categorize me as a Marxist) Christian, who also has kids, a house, a dog (and a cat) and plenty of bills.

    One other disadvantage to letters to the editor: Our local paper limits letters to 200 words, and writers to one letter a month. Not all get in at that, apparently, though all of mine have, along with a couple of longer guest opinions (one of which prompted a former trustee of the Christian university in which I teach to demand–unsuccessfully, fortunately–that I be fired).

    Of course, the limits have their advantages. Even with them, there are some writers whose letters I get tired of reading because of their inanely repetitive nature. Thanks.

  6. Wakefield Tolbert said

    Well, if they demanded such about FIRING, then most probably they’re in the wrong. You have a crisp and often enjoyable way of writing, just as with Southern liberals like Hal Crowther. Though he does more “stream of consciousness” writing and personal inflection, the point is that editors of all stripes and the halls of academe should favor all opinions being in print, even if they don’t favor the opinion. Just so long as we’re not smothered in the latest fad in blogging (Newspapers generally don’t allow this to the day) of dropping F-bombs and other childish input that demonstrate more frustration than thought.

    I do understand and respect many liberal opinions. Not all of the “progressivism” types and strains, but traditional liberalism.

    Not to sound overly cynical, but if for no other reason than the old saw about even a broken clock being correct twice a day, that might be prescient here. Liberals tend to be highly educated and write frequently, and for that alone you’re likely to run into the spark of an idea or at least get down the gig of entertainment value, as with over on “establishment” liberals sites like Slate, where even the liberal editors liked MY stuff from time to time.

    I just don’t like some of the outcomes and social consequences of notions that turn sour for not being thought all the way through. I do what many liberals CLAIM to do and try my best to separate faith from politics and don’t really admire the Left’s common penchant in some quarters of dissing religion in general but then using Christ’s mission and compassion as some line-to-line analysis that extrapolates from pre-industrial societies to claim that government’s role needs to be larger. Else I’m a “hypocrite” for not “helping” the poor with (x) program, etc.

    However, I know that liberals have been in the forefront of various kinds of activism and were primarily (though not exclusively) the ones that in yesteryear bequeathed to us the very Christian notion of mercy for the truly indigent (as opposed to the merely INDIGNANT) and that government can and should on some occasions be required to intervene.

    That is NOT the same thing in my book about a particular advocacy.

    Lastly, I noticed my atrocious grammar and spelling of late and usually have to write on the fly and in a hurry, so all apologies.

    As to those newspaper limits–well, I should check into that. Limiting, yes, but then you’re forced to get crisp and to the point. When I run into a blog site that dumps the whole message due to being over 3000 words, I know my verbosity has taken a dark turn on that particular day.

    And I doubt April thinks you’re of Marxian derivation. She, like me, is actually very tolerant of a wide range of comedy and politics. Or so the impression I get. She’s cool about most things.

    Curiously and troublesome, however, is that some of the links I do see to the right of this board on your blogroll hail from a more secularist or even atheist intonation. I’ve seen most of them at one time or another and the mockery of Christians is rife, to be blunt.

  7. James McPherson said

    “Some of the links I do see to the right of this board on your blogroll hail from a more secularist or even atheist intonation.”

    True enough. But they’re included for political or journalistic perspectives, not for religious ones.

    “…the mockery of Christians is rife…”

    A sad fact admittedly more common to liberals than to conservatives (though I’ve seen it with some of them, too). On the other hand, I’ve also been guilty of mocking some kinds of Christians here.

    And no, I don’t think April would take me for a Marxist. She, you, and Nicholas kept me checking in regularly for as long as I did. I was referring to our Windy City friend who sometimes offers an interesting bit of history, typically with a rigidly predictable perspective and a disagreeable tone. I don’t have a lot of patience with that, with so many other options available.

    It’s a common occurrence, of course. I’m looking less often at the comments on pieces in The American Spectator, for example, because those “discussions” are so commonly hijacked by haters and defenders of Israel, regardless of the relevance.

    Thanks for the kind comment about my writing. And no worry about “F-bombs” here. I don’t even swear on the golf course. The word can be heard in my media history class on a couple of occasions: when directly quoting LBJ talking to the president of CBS, and when playing rap music as one example of the evolution of political music.

    The call for my head came over a guest opinion in which I criticized the Bush administration for failing to better protect museums when invading the cradle of civilization.

  8. Well I must say I might be included in the defense of Israel Category, and on balance, while knowing she’s not innocent on all occasions, must stand as against the Dyscuntional Death Cults and Gut-Splat Brigades.

    But I guess what you had in mind is closer to the intonation of some of the pals over on places like A.S. et al.

    As to general human nastiness, I’m glad that of all people I’ve run into you don’t share this peculiar trait from what I can tell. All sides have it, the ugly slang, the vulgarity, and of course the tickpicking over grammarian structure not being 100% in place:

    Thus for example, take a gander at…

    http://thwapschoolyard.blogspot.com/2009/07/its-easy-to-criticize.html

    As to the sordid events you wrote on and almost got canned for, of course I think that’s just droll to even attempt. When you come up against some factions in the Christian community at such levels, they, like many others in such stations, do have a penchant for stepping on people’s necks. It’s less conservative politics (though that happens too) than about human sins, I guess.

    I’ve been accused of being liberal and destined to hell for merely mentioned beer and Sunday in the same sentence, red wine, jestful banter and self-depricating humor about sex with my own wife, and other such ditties. I’ve been critiqued by conservative Christians for kissing her in public or in front of children, which I was warned against in a kind but firm way by one person of my aquaintence. While I have mixed feelings on this, I assumed that this level of sexuality might actually be something the kids NEED to see on occasion and is healthy if not overdone.

    The point is, you have all levels. I know some very good conservative and liberal Christians alike who find all manner of fault in what I might say at any given moment.

    As to the issue of your article in the paper for which you almost got pulled to the rack, I’d say only this:

    To me, it is a sidetrack in the woods off the beaten path. While tragic, I’m not sure what could be done just shy of shooting dead the very people we wanted to succor favor with later on. Granted, that apparently has not worked out, but my guess is that was the thinking at the time. Whether by the administration of the time or by local generals and commanders. I’m not sure. Looting was the apparent outlet of the pent up angst of those people. We might have been loathe to defend Mesopotamain pottery by force.

    When it came to, say, the Rodney King verdict leading to the burning and looting of about half of LA, more than one liberal of note took it as read that the free TVs and liquor knockovers that day were really not so much troublemongers and looters, but rather the, ya guess it, angst of the oppression.

    What goes around comes around, no?

    ________________________________________________

    Ann Coulter had a funny (to me) quip about this, to the effect that for those forced to stare upon examples of such tokens, this might have been a blessing to future archeology students.

  9. Well I must say I might be included in the defense of Israel Category, and on balance, while knowing she’s not innocent on all occasions, must stand as against the Dyscuntional Death Cults and Gut-Splat Brigades.

    But I guess what you had in mind is closer to the intonation of some of the pals over on places like A.S. et al.

    As to general human nastiness, I’m glad that of all people I’ve run into you don’t share this peculiar trait from what I can tell. All sides have it, the ugly slang, the vulgarity, and of course the tickpicking over grammarian structure not being 100% in place:

    Thus for example, take a gander at…

    http://thwapschoolyard.blogspot.com/2009/07/its-easy-to-criticize.html

    As to the sordid events you wrote on and almost got canned for, of course I think that’s just droll to even attempt. When you come up against some factions in the Christian community at such levels, they, like many others in such stations, do have a penchant for stepping on people’s necks. It’s less conservative politics (though that happens too) than about human sins, I guess.

    I’ve been accused of being liberal and destined to hell for merely mentioned beer and Sunday in the same sentence, red wine, jestful banter and self-depricating humor about sex with my own wife, and other such ditties. I’ve been critiqued by conservative Christians for kissing her in public or in front of children, which I was warned against in a kind but firm way by one person of my aquaintence. While I have mixed feelings on this, I assumed that this level of sexuality might actually be something the kids NEED to see on occasion and is healthy if not overdone.

    The point is, you have all levels. I know some very good conservative and liberal Christians alike who find all manner of fault in what I might say at any given moment.

    As to the issue of your article in the paper for which you almost got pulled to the rack, I’d say only this:

    To me, it is a sidetrack in the woods off the beaten path. While tragic, I’m not sure what could be done just shy of shooting dead the very people we wanted to succor favor with later on. Granted, that apparently has not worked out, but my guess is that was the thinking at the time. Whether by the administration of the time or by local generals and commanders. I’m not sure. Looting was the apparent outlet of the pent up angst of those people. We might have been loathe to defend Mesopotamain pottery by force.

    Ann Coulter had a funny (to me) quip about this, to the effect that for those forced to stare upon examples of such tokens, this might have been a blessing to future archeology students.

  10. PS–I also meant to add that during the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict, more than one liberal commentator of note took it as read that this was less about free TVs and the thirst for knocking over liquor stores and laundromats than the built-up angst of a generations of municipal and national neglect and the oppression of white people, etc, etc, etc.

    So, what goes around WILL indeed come around for analysis by someone else, no?

  11. James McPherson said

    “I’m not sure what could be done just shy of shooting dead the very people we wanted to succor favor with later on.”

    Keeping in mind that the incidents (the invasion and my essay) occurred more than six years ago and I’m recalling details from memory, it seems we could have parked one tank in front of the national museum, a level of protection considerably below what we gave the oil ministry–especially since the Bush administration had been asked before the invasion by antiquities experts from around the world to protect it because they knew what would happen.

    I also just grabbed this off the web (from Wikipedia, so I can’t vouch for accuracy but it sounds correct according to what I remember): “Martin Sullivan, chairman of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Property, and State Department cultural advisors Gary Vikan and Richard S. Lanier resigned in protest.”

    Also, “Reacting to the incorrect initial reports that the museum was a total loss, French President Jacques Chirac on April 16, 2003, declared the incident ‘a crime against humanity.'” Of course that was in the Orwellian days when we were renaming French Fries “Freedom Fries” in the Congressional cafeteria and right wing talk show hosts were urging people to pour French wine in the streets (none took advantage of my offer to dispose of it for them). I also had written my guest piece at a time when the museum was believed to have been destroyed.

    With the LA riots in mind, and considering that hockey fans at the University of Minnesota rioted after the school won a national hockey championship–an incident cited in my guest essay in which most of the rioters were white middle-class Americans, and which occurred almost exactly a year before the Iraq invasion–that’s all the more reason we should have anticipated chaos that might destroy priceless artifacts in Iraq.

    My critic’s complaint actually had less to do with the fact that I thought the museum should have been protected, however, than the fact that I would criticize the administration during a time of war (which I guess would now preclude criticism of any president for the foreseeable future), and that someone with so obviously liberal views (at a time before I was blogging or doing much else to share those views; God only knows what he’d think today) should not be teaching at a Christian institution.

    As for the pro- and anti-Israel folks at TAS, I wasn’t protesting their views–just the fact that they now see every article as an excuse to go on ad nauseum with the same arguments they’ve made on other posts, regardless of whether the original piece had anything to do with Israel (though of course for some of those folks, EVERYTHING is about Israel or Jewish conspiracies).

  12. Wakefield Tolbert said

    Hi James.

    Parking a tank in front? Well.

    Maybe so. I guess that’s been done elsewhere more than once. But you’ll agree that if you pull a 4-million dollar vehicle from some other strategic command to do guard and civic duty, you need to have some OKs to pull the trigger. Those things hurt.

    That might have done the trick.

    Though for the hard core troublemakers we’ve seen evidence that some people will tempt fate. We have roadside bombers who surely know they’re being monitored require a good rip from an Apache before what’s left of them puts the last detonation device on the ground.

    Not to compare the looters and rioters with the insurgents, but I’m supposing that a standoffish position of NOT having a military presence in the general vicinity for some reason was approved by the local commanders.

    But then, I admit to NOT knowing the full background on this.

    My point about the LA riots was that half the bleedin’ city burned and TVs got the ultimate five-finger discount , but officals there TOO were loath to unload the obvious solution no one though of until Iraq:

    The simple expedient of popping a few heads with a helicopter mounted rifle. A few popped heads would stanch some of that, if not most.

    Or is this verboten for inner city residents on a good drunk and “wilding” (we’ve had that in my other town, Atlanta, the Big Peach Butt) but not for Iraquis?

    Perhaps the perception in both cases was that would be a strong case of overkill?

    As to pouring wine and Freedom Fries, French wine is fairly good, so that would be a crying shame, though I’m not enough of a wine snot to tell you which has the better go-down and bouquet or the best hint of anise or chickory.

    As for stunts like Freedom Fries, while I do like the name, the problem I have with all such stunts and boycotts and non-cotts and whatnot, is that it tends to usually be half-assed symbolism that never leads anywhere and less action.

    It’s like dealing the aforementioned CNN article on Facebook pests armed and begging with whatever cause.

    If you plan to roll your sleeves up and do something, then DO IT. Else take a seat and enjoy Dancing with Whores, or whatever.

    Speaking of things French, since you brought up Mssr. Chirac and good lables remaining in the cellars of your friends, I’d say that since it seems the French Embassy was attacked also, there might have been some anger of a more proximate nature directed at “things French”, up close and personal, due to perceived French incalcitrance on getting the invasion started. But that’s speculation squared.

    Possibly this was all rabble, and my suggestion is mostly tongue-in-wine-palate. 🙂

  13. Wakefield Tolbert said

    PS–regardless of dark notions about that nasty black liquid, and the fact that had Team Bush really been all this for the oil, it would be US, and not the RED CHINESE, sucking Iraqi oil out of the ground these days, I’d say the calculation was (however unpleasant in the actuary tables) that oil was more vital as resource to that small nation’s future than pottery.

    Sorry. I have back up on this one.

    Ayn Rand said it perhaps best, in one of those rarified moments I take the side of an athiest:

    Styrofoam cups and modern paper are more testament to human achievement than clay baked in the Sun of the ancient world.

  14. Wakefield Tolbert said

    From above: 10:09 am Posting:

    they’re included for political or journalistic perspectives, not for religious ones.

    I know. I have some links too that might be suspect on some issues as well, though I don’t have the same rundown, as your emphasis quite propertly is the eye on the media in general.

    FactCheck has some good and noteworthy stuff, for example

    But I DO remember the sage advice of Gandalf the Grey, when commenting on his erstwhile “friend” , Saruman the Wise’s habit of studying Sauron and then getting psychologically caught in the Dark snares.

    “Don’t delve too much or too deeply into the thoughts and ways of the Enemy.”

    I think cultural anthropologists used to have a term, probably considered non-PC, derisive, and semi-racist (or at least culturalist), that was called “going native”, while studying other people’s odd habits and norms.

    Remember, you and I ARE both Christians of what seems to be the canonical type.

    Just a passing thought….

  15. […] Rush Limbaugh’s claim that Obama’s health care logo reflected Nazi symbolism. This entry was posted in […]

  16. […] of “foil,” the slogan has generated an interesting meme among the tinfoil hat club who think that everything Obama does is part of a communist plot. The Moony-tunes Washington Times […]

  17. […] in the past I’ve made fun of birthers, truthers, gun nuts, Islamophobes, homophobes, Rush Limbaugh, the Texas Board of Education, PUMAs, lying Catholics, David Horowitz, flag fetishists, Pat […]

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