While I never agree with everybody’s opinions, I like to think I always agree with a person’s right to express them. That is unless those opinions are wrong, as I believe has been the case this past week in the numerous demonstration posters I have seen comparing either Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to German dictator Adolph Hitler.
These opinions are shortsighted and sensationalist, and as a grandchild of a Holocaust survivor, they are also extremely offensive to me. In an environment where every time I complain about a protester I get bombarded with the retort, “But at least they’ve researched the issues.” Let me offer a moment of clarity for those who’ve obviously slept through an important history lesson.
Hitler was the worst human being who ever lived on this planet. In the wake of economic disaster after World War I, he rallied a desperate nation around a platform of overt ethnic racism. He espoused a refined theory of eugenics implicating Jews as the main destructive, parasitic and hateful contaminant in the great cloud of the Aryan race. This contagion of a race, he preached, needed to be exterminated, and he did just that.
Over six years he corralled 6 million people into death camps where he documented with pride how they were gassed, tortured and burned alive systematically, all for no reason other than the fact they were Jews, gypsies, Catholic priests or political dissidents. He averaged killing more people per day, over 2,700, during that period than the entire toll from the current year-and-a-half-long conflict in the Middle East. He was September 11 every day for 6 years.
Hitler sought to take over the world; Arafat and Sharon are battling for a homeland. Hitler had no beliefs, no goals and no humanity; Arafat and Sharon are perhaps so subsumed by their beliefs and goals that they have lost sight of humanity, but we know that each has humanity in him.
To compare either of the two leaders to Hitler is outrageous and insulting. It gives Hitler too much credit.