Compare and contrast: The Reichstag fire and 9/11

Categories: Congress
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Rep. Keith Ellison (Minnesota's 5th District) is taking flak from the Anti-Defamation League for controversial remarks he made earlier in the month. During a July 8 speech he gave to a group of atheists in Edina, Ellison compared the Bush administration's post-9/11 actions to the heavy-handed undertakings carried out by the Nazi government in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire—initiatives that fomented Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

"After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted," a July 8 Strib article quoted Ellison as saying.

So in a Tuesday press release, the Anti-Defamation League took Ellison to task and demanded that he retract his remarks. "[His] comments comparing the rise of Nazism in the aftermath of the burning of the Reichstag to the War on Terror in the aftermath of 9/11 is outrageous and offensive to all Americans," read the statement.

Strangely, the Anti-Defamation neglected to empirically demonstrate how the Reichstag fire differs from the 9/11 in their statement, so in the name of public service, we thought we'd pick up the slack and debunk Ellison's claim ourselves:

1) Hitler suspended many articles of the Weimar Constitution in order to gain power, whereas the Bush Administration is merely ignoring a few aspects of our own Constitution for our own protection.

2) In the wake of the Reichstag fire, the German government did away with habeas corpus so they could arrest enemies of the state without trial, whereas the Bush administration has done away with habeas corpus so they can detain terrrorists without trial. (Plus, we have no idea how many U.S. citizens have actually been detained. For all we know, the number could be less than four.)

3) The Reichstag Fire Decree allowed the German government to wiretap citizens' phones and read their snail mail, whereas our own government is able to wiretap our phones and read our e-mail.

4)
Hitler enacted the above provisions as part of an intentionally misleading, Orwellian-titled government decree (the Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State), whereas the PATRIOT Act's name is merely derived from a coincidental acronym.

So there you have it. Rep. Ellison is obviously way off base here. Click here and tell him so.


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