A top Southern Baptist official has accused President Barack Obama and congressional Democratic leaders of attempting to do “precisely what the Nazis did.”
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made the remark during a Sept. 26 gathering of the Christian Coalition of Florida. Several prominent Jewish leaders have strongly criticized others for making similar statements during the health-care debate.
“I want to put it to you bluntly,” Land stated. “What they are attempting to do in health care, particularly in treating the elderly, is not something like what the Nazis did. It is precisely what the Nazis did.
“Let’s remember,” Land added, “the first 10,000 victims of the Holocaust were not Jews, they were mentally handicapped German children who were gassed and burned in ovens because they were considered to have … lives unworthy of life.”
During his speech, Land also compared Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, a health-care adviser to Obama, to German SS officer Josef Mengele, a doctor who was called the “Angel of Death” because of his human experimentations during the Holocaust.
“The Nazis said people should be euthanized when they had lives unworthy of life,” Land argued. “Well, at the very least Dr. Emanuel, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Sen.] Max Baucus and President Obama are saying that some people have lives less worthy of life. And the older you are, the sicker you are, the less valuable your life is and the more likely they want to terminate your care.”
Prior to Land’s remarks, several Jewish leaders already attacked other speakers for using Nazis comparisons in the national health-care debate.
EthicsDaily.com contacted Land to mention criticism that Jewish leaders have offered concerning Nazi comparisons in the health-care debate. In an email response, Land reiterated his likening of Emanuel to the Nazis. Land added that “the analogy is apt and I stand by it.”
Fred Guttman, rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, N.C., wrote in an EthicsDaily.com column that “usage of Nazi imagery among the anti-health-care demonstrators is particularly disturbing.”
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In another column, Guttman told of meeting a woman who was a victim of one of Mengele’s experiments. After recounting the story, Guttman argued that “comparing the proposals under consideration to Nazi policies is beyond the bounds of proper political discourse.”
Similarly, Fred Zeidman, a Jewish Republican activist who is the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council that governs the U.S. Holocaust Museum, argued about the tone of the health-care debate that “any comparison to Nazism is offensive to the survivors and the victims.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Abraham H. Foxman also criticized Nazi comparisons in the health-care debate as “outrageous, deeply offensive and inappropriate.”
“Comparisons to the Nazis are deeply offensive and only serve to diminish and trivialize the extent of the Nazi regime’s crimes against humanity and the murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust,” Foxman added. “Americans should be able to disagree on the issues without coloring it with Nazi imagery and comparisons to Hitler.”
On the same day that Land compared Obama and other Democrats to the Nazis, he also argued on his radio program, “Richard Land Live!,” that liberals were “pro-euthanasia” and “pro-death.”
“I believe … that the Lord has given me a new phrase to help describe it—it’s biological bigotry,” Land added.
During that broadcast of “Richard Land Live!,” Land also revived the debunked claims of health-care “death panels” and praised former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for bringing attention to the issue. He called for “a pitchfork rebellion” to stop the health-care reform proposals.
In addition to Jewish critics of Nazi comparisons, Baptist ethicist Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, has also criticized past comparisons to the Holocaust. Following remarks by a moderate Baptist leader in 2008 comparing the need for moderates to talk about the SBC takeover to the need of Holocaust survivors to tell their stories, Parham argued that such “analogies trivialize genocide and the suffering of survivors.”
In 2008, Land used an obscene Yiddish slur during a chapel address at Criswell College to mock U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish. After receiving criticism for the remark, Land claimed “ignorance” of the word’s meaning and apologized.
Land’s tactic of frequently resorting to name-calling has also been noted in other cases, including examples of him comparing Hillary Clinton to a witch, mocking Al Gore with animal noises and questioning the faith of Jimmy Carter.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor to EthicsDaily.com.