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Comparing Obama to Hitler: A Tea Party divided
An Iowa Tea Party group has been blasted by fellow Tea Partiers for putting up a billboard comparing Obama to Hitler. What does the incident reveal about the movement?
 
A Tea Party billboard in Mason City, IA
A Tea Party billboard in Mason City, IA
screenshot

A Tea Party–sponsored billboard in Mason City, IA, comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin has opened a fissure in the loosely organized Tea Party movement. The billboard (now concealed) was put up by a group called the North Iowa Tea Party, which argues that it's fair to highlight what they see as Obama's support for socialism. National Tea Partiers, already defending the movement from the NAACP's recent condemnation of its "racist element," are livid. What does the sign reveal about the Tea Party and its internal politics? (See the billboard)

The sign is tasteless, but not wrong: Anyone who's studied Hitler's atrocities "would find the comparison made in the billboard in bad taste," says Susan Duclos at Wake Up America. But it's "factually correct," in that Obama, Hitler, and Lenin are all, as the billboard states, "radical leaders" who "prey on the fearful & naive." You can't blame the North Iowa Tea Party for "fighting against allowing America to become a socialized country under the Obama rule."
"Hitler-Obama-Stalin billboard is protected free speech"

At least get your facts right: "I know that I am largely shouting into the wind" by suggesting that these outrageous comparisons should reflect some basic historical literacy, says Steven Taylor at Outside the Beltway. "But National Socialism is not the same as Marxism which, in turn, is not same as democratic socialism. Moreover, while social democrats do, indeed, roam the earth in many European countries, Barack Obama, even with the health care reform bill, hardly qualifies as one."
"The return of Hitler"

This is the Tea Party mainstream: Tea Party leaders blame the Iowans, because they wanted us to believe that such "Obama-as-Nazi" signs are always "planted by liberals," says Chris Good in The Atlantic. Clearly, they're not. The North Iowa group's "institutional support for comparing Obama to Hitler" shows how widely that view is "fully embraced by Tea Party activists," even if its leaders don't want that to be "the honest truth."
"The Obama/Hitler billboard: Exploding the myth that such signs are fake"

The media is biased, not the Tea Party: The honest truth is that "the National Tea Party does not agree with" the Obama-Hitler billboard, and "we do not support it," says Shelby Blakely, of the national Tea Party Patriots group, in the Mason City Globe Gazette. And this one "inflammatory" sign is only getting "so much play" because "there are elements in the media and our administration that would paint the Tea Party as racist, unjust, ignorant rednecks."
"Obama, Hitler, Lenin billboard covered up"

 

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