A highway billboard in Mason City, Iowa, is creating quite a stir. The billboard pictures Hitler, Obama and Lenin under captions that read "National Socialism," "Democratic Socialism" and "Marxist Socialism." Beneath the photos, which are arranged in an old-fashioned Communist style, is the tag line: "Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive." The ad was purchased by a group calling itself an Iowa tea-party group.
Needless to say, some liberal and even some conservative commentators are calling this inspired piece of legitimate political commentary "fringe" and are predictably attempting to link that label to all conservatives and Republicans. This comes from Democratic talking points for the coming midterm election. Meanwhile, a recent CBS poll indicates that only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the president's policies have helped them.
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Perhaps the aspect of this ad that is even more aggravating to the left than the juxtaposition of President Obama with the other two socialist leaders, Lenin and Hitler, is the fact that Lenin and Hitler are being equated as socialists without any differentiation made between the two. This perhaps raises some old sensitivities with regard to comparing Lenin and his brand of socialism with that of Hitler. The fact that the Russian Bolshevik Lenin had committed unprecedented atrocities in Europe and had set up concentration camps in Russia over a decade before Hitler came to power in Germany is ignored because, after all, Lenin was a "progressive." The possibility that Hitler and the Nazis might have been influenced and inspired by the example set by the left-wing Russian leaders, Lenin and Stalin, who were machine-gunning their political opponents into open pits and who were deliberately starving millions of innocent Ukrainians and Kulaks to death in politically inspired famines before the Nazis came to power, is ignored.
Hitler and the Nazis, perhaps after having noticed that the "progressive" media of the 1920s and 1930s had chosen not only to ignore the Soviet Holocaust but to rather sing the praises of the new Russian society, thought that they too would be afforded the same treatment when they launched their war against the Jews. After all, conservatives in Europe and in the United States who tried to speak out against Lenin and Stalin were quite often denounced as reactionaries and as fascists. And, besides, Hitler and his fellows considered themselves to be "progressive" and, before World War II and before their falling-out with their left-wing Soviet allies, they were, in fact, considered to be progressive by many on the left.
But back to President Obama and the billboard in question. Obviously there is no suggestion here that our president is comparable to either Hitler or Lenin in terms of his being as radical a socialist as the two aforementioned. There is no suggestion that Obama plans to commit a Holocaust against the Jews or to murder 10 million people, which is what the left-wing Soviets did to those they deemed to be not politically correct. No one is suggesting that Obama has plans to create a superrace or a collective. The difference between "Democratic Socialism" and the other two radical versions of Socialism, "National" and "Marxist", is understood by all.
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This billboard, rather, simply points out that under Barack Obama's leadership, America is gradually moving in an overall authoritarian socialist direction while recounting the history of socialism as a reminder of the ultimate consequences of its system once implemented. The long-term and ultimate consequences of socialism, the transfer of rights and property from the people to the authority of the state, is a matter of historical record and it is a record that ought not be ignored or forgotten.
Chuck Morse is the author of "The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism: Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini."