For the second time this week, however, Tea Party Governor Paul LaPage of Maine has compared the IRS to the Gestapo. April 15 might not qualify as a national holiday. Still, it's hard to follow Mr. LaPage's thinking. The governor backed off a similar comparison earlier in the week. Then he told reporters yesterday that, sure, he was right all along:
"What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad - yet," LePage told listeners, end-ing with that last note of foreboding.
Reporters couldn't quite grasp his logic. Asked if the IRS was headed in that direction, LePage responded, "They're headed in that direction."
Still baffled, someone in the audience wondered if LaPage knew that the Gestapo had played a role in the deaths of millions. It was kind of a softball question and Governor LaPage leaped at a chance to show that he was up on his Tea Party history. "Yeah, they killed a lot of people," he admitted. Someone else wondered if he really thought the IRS "was headed in the direction of killing a lot of people."
LePage answered again: "Yeah."
THAT'S WHEN IT HITS YOU, the problem with what passes in Tea Party circles for history, their paranoia, their fun-house mirror view of current realities. It's their "Unplugging Granny" delusion. Google "Obama and tyranny," for starters, and you get 8,990,000 results.
One of the first carries the the ominous title: In 2014, the Obama Dictatorship Will Be Complete. You figure it's going to be about gas chambers and tanks in the streets of American cities. But this particular story by Doug Book is about an evil plot to impose government health care on uninsured citizens. It's a chilling tale about "the Manchurian Candidate...[in] the White House." About President Obama's plan to pack some health care panel with "a select coterie of like-minded, Marxist plutocrats, eager to wrench by any means from the American people their last remaining vestige of individual liberty[.]"
It hits you again, even more forcefully. That the Tea Party doesn't understand the meaning of words like "tyranny" or "Gestapo." You're certainly entitled to do a double-take when someone uses the term "Marxist plutocrats." But give Book a pass.
Let's stick with this unreasoning fear of a growing "tyranny" in America.
What is tyranny, Govenor LaPage? Tyranny is when judges lose their seats on the bench, and their lives, if they go against power-mad rulers. It's not the same when seven of nine current U. S. Supreme Court justices, asked to rule on the health care law, were appointed by Republican presidents. Tyranny is when a dictator closes down a legislature, entirely, and rules through blood-letting. Not quite the same when the GOP controls the U. S. House of Representatives and votes 33 times for repeal. Tyranny is when a writer like Doug Book gets arrested and handed over to the Gestapo for horrific torture. (Book might take consolation knowing that it is liberals, President Obama, in particular, who oppose even waterboarding.) Tyranny is when the courts in Nazi Germany order the beheading of a girl named Sophie Scholl and her brother, after they pass out anti-Nazi leaflets. Not the same as a country where Tea Party "patriots" can post freely on the internet and show up at anti-Obama rallys heavily armed. Tyranny is when you cancel elections completely, or try to block your foes when they show up at the polls, ironically, a popular measure with GOP state legislatures these days. It's not about free elections this November, it's not about a country with a free speech and free press absolutely intact, where opinion polls, freely and regularly conducted, show President Obama with only a very slim lead. Tyranny is packing families in cattle cars, carrying them off to Auschwitz, gassing innocent men, women and children. Tyranny is not about extending health care to 30,000,000 Americans who lack it.
TO CONFUSE HEALTH CARE AND TYRANNY IN THIS FASHION is to make us wonder if people like the Maine governor could even tell the difference between a Gestapo agent and a Girl Scout.
Here's a hint: one of them is armed only with cookies.
It's not quite the same as a doctor with a stethoscope.