Ignorant Huckster

Jewish Light Editorial

Mike Huckabee is both a cause and a symptom of the ugliest aspects of public discourse in America.

He’s a cause because he spews vile rhetoric that ascribes evil to those with whom he disagrees, thus enabling the worst types of public discourse.

He’s a symptom because, quite simply, we as a society empower him to do so.

The most recent offense by the former governor of Arkansas was with regard to the Iran agreement. According to NBC News: 

“Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called the Iran deal ‘idiotic’ and likened it to events of the Holocaust, saying that President Barack Obama will ultimately ‘take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.’ ”

This isn’t Huckabee’s first brush with hyperbolic rhetoric laden with Holocaust references. As reported last year in Salon, he “suggested during a speech … that abortion is worse than the Holocaust and declared that the U.S. will ‘pay the consequences’ for allowing same-sex marriage.”

Adolf Hitler’s intention was to eradicate the Jewish people. His regime also mass-murdered Russians, Romas and gays. His goal was to achieve ethnic cleansing and impose world domination by a supposedly genetically superior ruling class.

The Iran agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and the P5+1 team is intended to slow down Iran’s march to nuclear weapon capability. There is a vast array of opinions about the efficacy of the deal, but to compare the president’s actions to those of Hitler is conduct that demonstrates, at very best, utter indifference to the truth.

Anyone can play that game, of course. We could say that by assigning ethnic malevolence to the president, Huckabee is deliberately trying to drive a wedge between and among American Jews based on political party and preference. We could say that taking such action is blatantly anti-Israel, because there’s no way that America continues to be Israel’s No. 1 supporter and partner without continued support from both sides of the aisle. We could say that by acting in a way that encourages anti-Israel factions, Huckabee is also essentially promoting anti-Semitic ends.

See how easy it is to take public statements to a wholly illogical and extreme place? Only problem is, we can’t make these statements about Huckabee because we don’t know that they’re true. In fact, we are reasonably certain they’re not. But Huckabee himself doesn’t seem to care about such distinctions when he opens his mouth.

This isn’t a partisan issue.  People on both sides of the aisle should be taken to task for disgusting, divisive speech. The BDS movement, which we have written should instead and realistically be called DLI —Delegitimize Israel — has many of its proponents on the far left, and some of its adherents have issued statements about Jews and Israel just as obscene as Huckabee’s grossly offensive Holocaust comparisons.

It’s not the political party or leanings that make an item of speech inappropriate. It’s the intentional effort to tie those acting within the normal bounds of societal decency to the most heinous acts and villains in human history. Huckabee likens Obama’s actions to the Holocaust. BDS zealots liken Israel’s actions regarding Palestine to the Holocaust.

What’s the difference? In our opinion, when it comes to inflammatory rhetoric, very little.

As we said, Huckabee is part of the cause of the public quagmire, but he’s also a symptom. A symptom of our obsession as a society with giving air time and attention to those who put forward the most outrageous and divisive comments. Politicians don’t have to judge whether their statements are morally or ethically correct; all that matters is how many are paying attention and whether the comments “cost” or “benefit” them at the polls.

We have every right to hold our candidates to a higher standard of behavior. They should be acting like responsible adults instead of out-of-control children whose only motivation is to get what they want.

Huckabee inflames the worst reactions in our society, and our society obliges him by egging on the inflammatory rants of our would-be leaders. As they say, unless we cease such pandering and response, we’ll get only more of what we deserve.