First-term Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO) likened a private company replacing Newsmax with another right-wing network to the extermination of millions of Jews and others.
Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO) on Tuesday likened reactions to a television provider's decision not to carry the right-wing network Newsmax to failure to act in the face of the Holocaust. Historians say such comparisons are dangerous.
In a floor speech, Burlison blasted AT&T's DirecTV for its recent decision not to carry Newsmax after the conservative outlet demanded increased carrier fees and to replace it with The First, another right-wing opinion and commentary network.
Invoking the words of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller about the German people's inaction as the Nazis came to power and exterminated millions of people, Burlison said:
Now they're going after Newsmax. You know, there's a famous quote about what happened during the Holocaust, when individuals, when the Nazis first came for some, people said nothing. And then eventually, they'll come for you. And I say this not as a Republican or a Missourian, but as a concerned citizen for a country who has these rights that were here because of the blood that was shed by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of patriots from the time of the American Revolution until today.
The groups everyday Germans failed to protect, as listed by Niemöller, are socialists, trade unionists, and Jews. The final line is, "Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me."
Burlison, who did not include any mention of the portion of Niemöller's quote addressing socialists, authored a "Stop Socialism Act" proposal during his time in the Missouri Senate in 2019. His Sept. 1, 2021 tweet announcing his House campaign read, "I'm running for Congress here in Missouri's Seventh District, as a relentless conservative champion stepping up to DEFEAT the socialist Democrat agenda in Washington!"
A Burlison spokesperson did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has repeatedly condemned similar analogies as "dangerous." In a December 2018 essay for the museum, historian Edna Friedberg wrote:
Careless Holocaust analogies may demonize, demean, and intimidate their targets. But there is a cost for all of us because they distract from the real issues challenging our society, because they shut down productive, thoughtful discourse. At a time when our country needs dialogue more than ever, it is especially dangerous to exploit the memory of the Holocaust as a rhetorical cudgel. We owe the survivors more than that. And we owe ourselves more than that.
Still, an array of House Republicans have trivialized the Holocaust and used it as a point of comparison for anything they don't like.
In May 2021, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene drew bipartisan criticism from for claiming that rules requiring masks and vaccination to curb the spread of COVID-19 were "just like the Nazi's [sic] forced Jewish people to wear a gold star." After a visit to the Holocaust museum, she apologized for the comments, but then likened public health officials offering COVID-19 vaccinations to Nazi "brownshirts" less than a month later.
That July, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert accused those offering coronavirus vaccines at people's homes of being "Needle Nazis."
A month later, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted — and later deleted — an anti-vaccine-passport meme showing an arm with a number tattoo resembling those forcibly given to inmates of Nazi concentration camps and the words, "If you have to carry a card on you to gain access to a restaurant, venue or an event in your own country… that's no longer a free country."
Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson criticized vaccination requirements in the District of Columbia in January 2022, likening them to Nazi segregation rules. "Let's recall that the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them, segregated them before imprisoning them, imprisoned them before enslaving them, and enslaved them before massacring them," he tweeted. After Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Memorial criticized the analogy, he apologized.
Illinois Rep. Mary Miller issued a partial apology in January 2021 for saying at a pro-Donald Trump rally: "Hitler was right on one thing. He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future.'"
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.