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When is a Nazi Comparison not Out of Bounds?

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Posted on October 21 2009 12:00 pm
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Last night, Brit Hume and Bill O’Reilly informed their audience, in a discussion about recent White House attacks on Fox News, that partisan comparisons to Nazi Germany in today’s political world are verboten. Apparently it rebounds negatively back onto the writer or speaker. However, sometimes the shoe fits so well, it must be worn. White House interim communications director Anita Dunn is desperately trying to avoid the fate of her historical doppelganger sister in arms, Leni Riefenstahl. Let me elaborate.

Few accused Riefenstahl of being boring. She once wrote, about seeing Adolf Hitler speak for the first time,

“It seemed as if the earth’s surface were spreading out in front of me, like a hemisphere that suddenly splits apart in the middle, spewing out an enormous jet of water, so powerful that it touched the sky and shook the earth.”

Let’s hope we do not find such obvious subliminal sexual imagery anytime soon from Dunn’s so far more pedestrian recollections. Riefenstahl received lavish praise and awards from the European intelligentsia for her truly frightening and repulsive 1933 propaganda film, “Triumph of the Will.” As a child, this movie literally gave me nightmares while I was almost mesmerized watching clips shown on WOR, channel 9, in NYC. Riefenstahl still is perceived as a tortured genius of sorts, with both Jodie Foster and Madonna having each tried to star in and produce a film about her.

But Riefenstahl lost all her pizzazz once the Nazi Regime was vaporized. She had trouble finding work for the remainder of her unfortunately far-too-long life. Dunn is a drone with an archetypical engineer’s personality and has none of that flamboyant Satanic charisma which Riefenstahl was able to evoke with such ease. Yet in some ways, this drone’s mental “Gestalt” is as frightening as the sexualized and romanticized imagery of Riefenstahl. It’s like a Terminator Robot versus the True Believer.

Glenn Beck broke the story of Dunn’s speech before a high school class about her two favorite “political philosophers,” Mao and Mother Theresa. While she did try to elicit a laugh from the audience through this odd juxtaposition, there was nothing amusing about the message. Neither of the two was a political philosopher, so Dunn is incoherent on that point. But the fact that she felt comfortable extolling the “will” of both Mao and Mother Theresa in the same speech, without regards to what ends their “will” served, is so typically nihilistic and modern, it makes one sick. Her message was an extolling of the empty vessel of “will.” She advised the 17 and 18 year old students to just pursue their dream, be it Maoist or Roman Catholic, it’s really all the same. It’s the “will” that matters. Watching her YouTube clip from January of 2009, we again see Dunn pontificating and bragging to her technocrat audience how the Obama campaign sought to manipulate the media, with her, of course, leading the charge. What is so prominent in the video is the focus again on “means,” not ends.

Dunn will be leaving the White House soon. As controversy surrounds this previously unknown wonk due to her radical moral equivalence high school speech, she fears for her reputation and future work. She is trying to avoid being “Reifenstahled” for her Mao comment. So she did what the White House often does when criticized. She blamed “Bush.” Well, technically she did not blame “Bush,” but she did blame “Bush Pere” campaign strategist, now long dead, Lee Atwater. See, it was Atwater who really made that moral equivalence comment 25 years ago. Dunn was merely riffing on ‘ol Lee. Get it?

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I don’t. But just in case you don’t either, the White House will continue to remind you that the true enemies are those who disagree with them, like Fox News. Yet O’Reilly and Hume tell us certain historical comparisons are not appropriate. Well, sometimes such comparisons help warn us of the potential dangers of certain “perspectives,” to turn a phrase back onto the White House.

Editor’s Note: Visit Michael Rulle’s Blog Here. See his previous NewsReal commentaries here.

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