I’ve been covering the rallies at the Wisconsin Capitol building since they started on Monday. The majority of signs have been straightforward and often amusing. A small sample has been straight up geeky hitting a special place in my heart (Ex: “Walker Can’t TriForce“). On Wednesday I saw the first unfortunate sign that hit a different place in my heart, the part that handles sorrow and disappointment. I saw a sign being held over the side of my State Capitol’s rotunda equating Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler.
This morning I decided I’m not going to let it slide. I wasn’t okay with it in April of 2009 when the Tea Party filled the Capitol lawn with signs making the same connection between Hitler and Obama and I’m not okay with the same connection being made to Governor Walker. One of the biggest complaints I heard throughout the Tea Party rallies was that no one on that side was calling out the obnoxious signs (now, of course, they have no problem calling out the signs – the woman being interviewed here is the same woman I saw with the sign).
Did Hitler bust trade unions? You bet he did, but he also embraced a distorted view of the trade union model. He wrote about this at length in Mein Kampf and after destroying trade union leadership in 1933 he forced the remaining labor organizations to merge with the state-run trade union the German Labor Front. Last I checked Walker isn’t rounding up union leadership and forming a state-run labor party, but he won’t announce his budget until Tuesday, so maybe Nazi sign lady knows more than I do.
This is also one in a litany of reasons why the Tea Party equating Obama to Hitler was so very wrong. Obama has yet to smash independent unions in this country and form a national labor party. While Conservatives often try to portray the U.S. labor movement as this massively organized beast working in tandem it is in actuality, quite fragmented. In fact, its well known that the International Association of Firefighters is traditionally a conservative union, which is why having the Firefighters stand with other public sector unions is being treated as such a big deal at the Capitol. It wasn’t expected.
How else is Walker not like Hitler? Again, I haven’t seen any of his future proposals, but I’m willing to bet my farm that he isn’t going to make a list of “race enemies” and send them to camps. Just sayin’.
If historical comparisons don’t convince you to put down your Hitler sign consider that as soon as you paste Hitler to that poster board you’ve lost your argument. No one is going to take you seriously and you’re simply giving the opposition fodder so they don’t need to talk about the real issues. You lose.
Scott Walker is not Hitler. Barack Obama is not Hitler.
This editorial originally appeared on dane101.com on February 18, 2011.