Ahistoricality (Blogger): Hillary's inappropriate Holocaust analogy
But sometimes someone says something so ... well, I'll just quote her:
"They came for the steel companies and nobody said anything. They came for the auto companies and nobody said anything. They came for the office companies, people who did white-collar service jobs, and no one said anything. And they came for the professional jobs that could be outsourced, and nobody said anything."
(The original reportage, with a bit more context, is here)
This is, obviously, a riff on Niemoller's famous formulation. As other Jews have pointed out, this comes just in time for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
I have two reactions to this, both negative.
The first, and more obvious one, is that it is tactless, inappropriate, banal and absurd to compare global trade shifts to the Holocaust. I'm not going to say"it's offensive" because there is no objective measure of offensiveness. I will say, however, that I am offended. It is a gross dimunition of the Holocaust -- an atrocity that slaughtered Jews, Romany, political dissidents, Slavic peoples, religious minorities, and the disabled -- to use this in a speech on unemployment.
Second, and perhaps less obvious, is the historical absurdity of the statement. Niemoller's poetic formula works because it was pretty close to truth: there was very little resistance or protest in Germany as the Nazi programs were rolled out and Volk, Lebensraum, Judenrein became official policy. Trade, on the other hand, especially global competition and relocation, has been a constant political and economic topic of discussion, protest, legislation and speculation for the last thirty years or more. It may be true that classes who felt"above" globalization didn't take it seriously until the effects became obvious, but it's not at all true that there's been no cross-class unity, and"leadership" from unions, think tanks, legislators, presidents, affected businesses, the WTO, and assorted commentators.
I don't know if Hilary Clinton thought it was just a rhetorically clever move, or if she really thinks that outsourcing is some sort of economic Holocaust which justifies the equation she's made. I don't care: as an historian and as a Jew (also partially Polish, leftist and former union member, all of which would have gotten me rounded up at some point), I am offended.
comments powered by Disqus
- World War I records reveal myths and realities of soldiers with ‘shell shock’
- Were Neanderthals a sub-species of modern humans? New research says no
- Irish archaeological sites explain huge European population fall
- Reactions to JFK Assassination Included Fear of Possible Soviet Strike against U.S.; Desire to "Bond" with LBJ
- Swiss Museum to Announce Decision on Nazi-Looted Art Next Week
- Middle East Studies Association Fights a Rising Tide of Critics
- Juan Cole says the postwar Middle East governments were modeled on the Soviet Union, though not communist (interview)
- Ted Widmer picks the 5 best presidential books worth reading
- AHA backs California's LGBT History law
- Cultural historian traces history of baby food