David Hedrick is the latest individual to use the term ‘Nazi’ to describe a member of the Obama administration. A video of David Hedrick confronting Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) has gone viral. David Hedrick is being promoted by conservatives and Fox News as a “voice of the people” after he stood at a recent Town Hall meeting in Washington state and told Congressman Brian Baird what he thought:
“The Nazis were the National SOCIALIST Party. They were leftists. They took over the finance, they took over the car industry, they took over health care in that country. If Nancy Pelosi wants to find a swastika, maybe the first place she should look is the sleeve of her own arm.”
The video is being shown on the internet as another “You Nazi!” incident. There seems to be a lot of it going around, both on the left and the right (and possibly from some in the political center).
But to put David Hedrick’s comments into perspective, it must be remembered that Congressman Brian Baird accused the Republicans opposed to the health care bill of using “brown shirt tactics” to defeat it. The Brown Shirts is the name that Adolf Hitler’s early followers were known as and were famous for their orchestration of events and intimidation tactics. Baird also compared them to a “lynch mob.” Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi got pulled into the conversation because she accused the anti-health care protesters of “carrying swastikas” to town hall meetings.
She was right. Some people were carrying swastikas into Town Hall meetings. However, the insinuation was that the anti-health care protesters were mostly conservative protesters and that rankled many of the non-swastika carrying conservatives.
So as this video gets shown more and more and Fox News runs it ad infinitum, what seems to be going on? How can both sides be Nazis? Whatever happened to two differing opinions without inflammatory rhetoric?
It seems that people are getting a bit out of hand in the United States, rearing back and letting the word ‘Nazi’ fly every time they feel like it. And it comes from historical ignorance and generational historical misinformation.
The problems that arise with calling someone a Nazi or a group of people a bunch of Nazis in the United States is that most people are actually ignorant of who and what the Nazis were and how they’ve been distorted as ultimate evil over the years. Just the mere mention of the word puts most people on the defensive. While it is true that the National Socialist (Nazi) Party that was headed by Adolf Hitler is one of the worst regimes in history in terms of its ethnocentric, nationalistic, and militaristic polices, many people in the anti-socialist United States get mentally derailed by the word ‘socialist’ in the party appellation. But the Nazi Party was far from socialist.
The National Socialist Party rose to power by touting the benefits of socialism, the protectionist security of nationalism and militarism, and a strong centralized government. Eventually, they gained control of the entire German government. After the National Socialist Party instituted and helped pass various pieces of legislation in the democratic German legislature, through “the will of the people,” the government nationalized much of its infrastructure. At the same time, the Nazis, through political maneuverings and fear tactics, worked on concentrating the actual governing power into a centralized system. It did not take long for the Nazi Party to then consolidate its power into a centralized governing system, a fascist totalitarianist system. They kept the trappings of socialism — doing what is best for all the people — but socialism, for all intents and purposes, had gone the same way as democracy. The Nazi Party was more fascistic, authoritarian and dictatorial, operating under an elitist system (the Party itself) subservient to a charismatic leader and an hierarchical structure that actually classified the people of Germany and the conquered and annexed territories. There was nothing socialist about the Nazi Party once it attained full power except that it had the word ‘socialist’ in its title.
In the United States, the term Nazi has come to be equated with someone of an overbearing, dictatorial nature, someone who exerts total control And many confuse the systems when they conflate the name of the National Socialist Party of Germany with socialism. Socialist systems are not dictatorial and exist for the common good (ideally) and dictatorships are only socialist in that what they decree affects their governed society, regardless if it is good for the common welfare.
David Hedrick is wrong in placing the Nazi Party on the left (“they were leftists”), however, because the Nazis were not. They may have begun as a movement disguised as such but by the time Hitler had full control of the Nazi Party and was named Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg, ‘socialist’ was just another word in the Party’s title. Everything about the National Socialist Party was geared toward the centralization of government, placing all power with an elite system, and the promotion of a charismatic leader to the fore. This is commonly known as fascism, which is a Right-wing political ideology.
‘Nazi’ is a loaded word in the United States, as it is in many places around the world. It is being used with far too great a frequency in the United States of late and the true nature of the politics of the Nazis cannot be conveyed by people ignorant of its history and what it actually was. Using the word Nazi, whether you are a Congressman or a civilian, carries with it the loaded implications. It is not a terrible thing to describe this or that as “Nazi-like”, and doing so can be rather illuminating, but care should be used when pointing such a loaded word at certain people or groups because of its connotation and historical offensiveness. It can be very misleading. And people like Nancy Pelosi, Brian Baird, David Hedrick, and Barney Frank’s constituent from another planet should be very careful that they know that of which they speak before labeling.
In the end, watching a couple of hours of Adolf Hitler-centered programming on the history channel does not make one an expert on political systems. And calling things by certain names does not make it true just in the naming…
What is also interesting about this debate is that Fox News and conservatives preface everything said about David Hedrick with the fact that he is an ex-Marine, a veteran. This was purposely left out by the writer due to the fact that it is irrelevant to the debate at hand. People use labels, titles, and honorifics to gain a psychological advantage through preconception and predisposition. The titles of government officials were left in the article, given that their names are often already known and the fact that politicians are generally held in low regard, despite grandiose or official titles. This article is not written to denigrate either conservative, liberal, or moderate viewpoints, nor is it to exalt them. It is not written to castigate Brian Baird or to lambaste David Hedrick. Both are entitled to their opinions and are wholeheartedly encouraged to continue their debate. This article was written to educate and clarify and hopefully bring a little accuracy into the current socio-political debate ongoing in the United States over various issues.
David Hedrick confronts Brian Baird video.