Responses to Congressman Keith Ellison’s Comparison of Bush to Hitler

Star Tribune
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Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten commented on his explanation:

On Tuesday, Ellison told me that he invoked the Reichstag fire to make the point that "in the aftermath of a tragedy, space is opened up for governments to take action that they could not have achieved before that."

Which of the Bush administration's post-9/11 actions did he place in that category? The Iraq war, Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence and certain provisions of the Patriot Act, he said.

Those seem a tad short of unleashing storm troopers, torturing political opponents and demolishing the rule of law.

During his speech, Ellison went on to tell the atheists that "I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that, because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you."

Granted, such statements might get you dismissed as a nutball. But are they true? ...

[T]he point Ellison was trying to make deserves a hearing: The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, were "almost like the Reichstag fire ... it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."

Forget about Hitler for a moment. The terror attacks of 9/11 were indeed a starting gun that kicked off a rush to expand government power. Could the Patriot Act have passed without 9/11? Would Congress have authorized a war in Iraq? No credible observer believes that the attacks were some kind of inside job (though an alarming number of people in Muslim countries are happy to think so). But neither is it credible to suppose that the Bush administration has failed to take advantage of the popular support presidents enjoy in times of crisis. Any president would do so.

Few, however, would go as far as this president has gone. Bush and his team seem intent on enlarging his authority and defying those who would challenge him or his administration. Geneva Conventions? Quaint. Habeas corpus? Flexible. Court approval of wiretaps? Outmoded. Rising calls to replace a secretary of defense? "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best.
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O'Reilly can compare DailyKos to KKK and Nazis, but Congressman Ellison better watch what he says ...

Reported by Chrish - July 17, 2007

What I Think About Rep. Keith Ellison Comparing Bush to Hitler
Monday, July 16, 2007
By John Gibson

... So the congressman says 9/11 was the Reichstag fire, which was set by Hitler's people so he could seize power. Hard to imagine any other interpretation of that remark.

But Ellison responded in a letter to a Minnesota newspaper and tried to wiggle out of what he said. He wrote: "Obviously, Usama bin Laden and the hijackers who carried out the murderous events are responsible for 9/11."

Well, congressman, when you say it's the Reichstag fire, it does call into question whether you believe the man who has publicly taken credit for the terror attack: Usama himself.

Ellison then tries to shift blame back to Bush: "We may need years to shake off the taint of Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, FISA violations, Patriot Act encroachments and other Bush administration failures."

It's OK for Ellison to oppose Bush. Plenty of people do. Fine. Vote for somebody else. But to essentially accuse Bush of planning and executing the 9/11 attacks is not so much a political assault on Bush as an assault on the reason and the judgment of Ellison himself.

Mr. Ellison, you've explained why you don't like George Bush. But you haven't explained why you publicly articulated and endorsed the deranged thinking of the looniest among us. Until you take it back and apologize for dabbling in the craziest of 9/11 conspiracy theories, you truly call into question your fitness to serve in the U.S. Congress.,2933,289529,00.html

Ellison's remarks draw fresh complaints

The Anti-Defamation League and a pair of House Republicans decried Ellison's comparison of 9/11 and the 1933 Reichstag fire.

By Jake Sherman, Star Tribune
Last update: July 17, 2007 – 10:21 PM

WASHINGTON - Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison's remarks July 8 comparing 9/11 to the Nazi-era Reichstag fire sparked new furor Tuesday from the Anti-Defamation League and two GOP congressmen.

Ellison -- whose one-time ties to the Nation of Islam raised concerns in some quarters during his campaign last year, particularly about the anti-Semitism linked to that group -- made the comparison at a meeting sponsored by a Twin Cities atheists group. He said 9/11 reminded him of the 1933 Reichstag fire, which produced fear that the Nazis used to justify claiming vast new powers.

The Anti-Defamation League decried the remarks in a news release, calling on Ellison to apologize and retract his statement.

"Whatever his views may be on the administration's response to 9/11 and the conduct of the war on terrorism, likening it to Hitler's rise to power and Nazism is odious and demeans the victims of 9/11 and the brave American men and women engaged in the war on terror," said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the AD ....
Reps. Cantor, Wamp blast Ellison for 9/11 comments
By Jackie Kucinich
July 18, 2007

Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) yesterday lambasted a freshman Democrat in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for his remarks likening the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to the 1933 burning of the Reichstag in Berlin.

Cantor and Wamp asked Pelosi to reprimand Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who made remarks Monday that insinuated the Bush administration had used Sept. 11 to begin the war in Iraq while addressing a group of atheists, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” Ellison reportedly said. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Adolf Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”

Ellison added, “The fact is that I’m not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”

It is widely believed that the Reichstag fire was used by Hitler and the Nazis to seize special powers, with which they in turn oppressed Germany’s political left.

“Even if Ellison asserts that he was not implying that 9/11 was orchestrated by the administration, the comparison he draws between Hitler and the president of United States is disgraceful,” the letter read. “These comments inflame hatred at a time when we should be promoting our unity and reconciliation.”

Ellison’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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