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World News | ‘Nazi’ reference: BBC sportscaster’s tweet sparks debate

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NEW YORK, March 15 (AP) The references seem endless, and they can come from anywhere. In recent days, Pope Francis has compared Nicaragua’s crackdown on Catholics to Hitler’s rule in Germany.

In the UK, a BBC sports presenter compared the country’s asylum policy to Germany in the 1930s, prompting his brief suspension and a national outcry.

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For Holocaust and anti-Nazi scholars and organizations, these two sentiments are understandable — but worrisome.

They warn that invoking Hitler and Nazi Germany tends to revive a familiar but unpopular argument.

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“We must be aware of and confront discrimination, hate speech and human rights violations around the contemporary world,” said Rafal Pankowski, a Polish sociologist and head of the anti-Nazi NEVER AGAIN association.

But he added: “Of course, historical analogies cannot be overused and belittled. The label Nazi should not be used as a demeaning term for anyone we don’t like.”

Last week, Pope Francis was quoted as criticizing the Nicaraguan government, where religious leaders were arrested or fled, behaving like “the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitler dictatorship of 1935.” In response, Nicaragua proposed suspending ties with the Vatican.

Around the same time, the BBC’s Gary Lineker tweeted that a new asylum policy announced by Britain’s Conservative government was “unbelievably cruel” and that the language in it was “not that different from what Germany used in the 30s “.

The bill, which seeks to stop the tens of thousands of migrants who cross the English Channel by small boat each year to reach the country, would bar anyone who arrives in the UK by unauthorized means from making an asylum claim and force the government to detain and deport them “on their terms”. country or a safe third country.”

At first, the broadcaster suspended Lineker, its highest-paid TV commentator. But it reversed itself on Monday, praising Lineker as “a vital part of the BBC”.

alternative wording

Peter Fritzcher, author of The Wind of Iron: Europe Under Hitler, called Lineker’s comments inappropriate and misleading because “Nazi Germany had no immigration policy.” The policy is best described as “racist” or “inhumane”.

“The UK’s rhetoric on immigration and its policy on asylum seekers … rightfully aroused enormous outrage because we believe the UK is a family of democratic humanitarian nations,” said Fritzcher, a professor at the National University of England. history professor. Illinois. “The sports commentator’s judgment was inaccurate.

This spirit is commendable. “

Sometimes, scholars and activists say, events do call for Nazi comparisons, whether it’s the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, or the annual Independence Day march in Warsaw, Poland, organized by far-right groups.

But Nazi references have also been used to criticize fiscal policy (anti-tax activist Grover Nordquist once cited the Holocaust in his criticism of the estate tax) or to insult rival heads of state (Saudi Arabia and Iran recently re-established diplomatic ties , six years later Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the “new Hitler”).

Nazis are mentioned so often and for so long on the Internet that in 1990, author and lawyer Mike Godwin formulated “Godwin’s Law” for them : “As the online discussion continues, the odds of mentioning or comparing Hitler or the Nazis approach 1.”

They came up with such frequency that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., developed a standard response and cited it when contacted by The Associated Press this week.

“Nazism represented a unique evil that resulted in the racially and politically murdered six million Jews and the racially and politically persecuted persecution and death of millions more,” the statement read.

“Comparing contemporary conditions to Nazism is not only offensive to the victims, it is also inaccurate and distorts the history and present of the Holocaust,” the statement said. “The Holocaust should be remembered, studied, and understood so we can learn its lessons ; it should not be used for opportunistic purposes.”

series of references

Nazi references may be eccentric (actress Megan Fox once compared Transformers director Michael Bay to Hitler); He’s Hitler”, declaring in 2022 that “there’s something good about Hitler”); and strategy (Russian President Vladimir Putin lists the “denazification” of Ukraine as the main goal of his “special military operation” One is falsely claiming that there are Nazis in the Ukrainian leadership).

Putin’s allegations are not new. It has been part of the Kremlin’s propaganda efforts for years to justify a Moscow-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine and to attack the pro-Western government in Kiev, which took over after a popular uprising toppled a pro-Russian president in 2014.

Analysts say the narrative appears to be popular in Russia, where the Soviet military’s defense of Nazi Germany’s forces in World War II remains a fundamental part of national identity.

Officials and state media often use the term “Nazi” to describe the Ukrainian government and its military.

Moscow’s remarks drew some international backlash. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, asked in an interview with an Italian news channel about Russia’s claim that it invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the country, said that even if some figures, such as the Ukrainian president, were Jewish, Ukraine could still have Nazis.

“So when they say, how can Nazism exist if we’re Jewish?” In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish blood, so it makes absolutely no sense. For some time we have heard from Jews that the biggest anti-Semites are Jews,” Lavrov told the radio in Russian, voiced by an Italian translator.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yar Lapid called Lavrov’s statement an “inexcusable, disgraceful and terrible historical error”, adding that “the Russian government needs to apologize”.

In Israel, the Holocaust is considered unique, and comparisons to the Nazis or Nazi Germany in the modern context are often dismissed as demeaning the memory of the victims. But comparisons do happen. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has compared Iran to Nazi Germany, and ultra-Orthodox protesters have called police “Nazis” during arrests in Israel.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said Lineker’s comparison was flawed.

He said the Conservative proposal was more like British policy for Holocaust survivors who tried to enter British Mandate Palestine after 1945 on ships such as the Exodus but were turned away.

The bigger problem, Zuroff said, is that people like Lineker cite the Holocaust to draw attention to their own problems.

Perhaps, Zurov said, the BBC personality “should be punished, locked in a library and forced to read 10 accurate history books.” (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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