A phrase favored by charlatans, bullies and other cowards is “people are saying,” or words to that effect. It’s also used as a distancing mechanism for people who don’t want to take ownership of their repulsive and bigoted opinions. In the minds of some it lends credibility to crackpot points of view. It’s a cheap, insubstantial mechanism used by liars. It was a favorite phrase used by Donald Trump.
And it was a phrase hideously abused by a once honored and now disgraced journalist, Fox News commentator Lara Logan. Logan wanted to compare Dr. Anthony Fauci with the Nazi doctor and murdering sadist Josef Mengele, but she didn’t have the guts to take the heat for it. So she did what all cowards do. She blamed other people for saying it. But there is absolutely no evidence that people in general are connecting Dr. Fauci with the notorious Nazi doctor known as “the angel of death.” But thanks to Lara Logan that will probably now change.
“What you see on Dr. Fauci,” Logan proclaimed, “this is what people say to me — that he doesn’t represent science to them, he represents Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on Jews during the Second World War in the concentration camps.” Who is saying such things? “[P]eople all across the world are saying this,” Logan insists.
Of course “people all across the world” are doing no such thing. People in general are not comparing Dr. Fauci with Josef Mengele. But it sounds shocking and horrible. It has a schoolyard quality to it, like a fourth grader trying to outdo another fourth grader in a game of infantile one upmanship.
The backlash was instantaneous. Jewish advocacy groups are asking Logan for an apology. The American Jewish Committee called on Logan to apologize in a Tuesday tweet, saying:
Josef Mengele earned his nickname by performing deadly and inhumane medical experiments on prisoners of the Holocaust, including children.
@LaraLogan, there is no comparing the hell these victims went through to public health measures.
An apology is needed.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum also condemned Logan’s disgusting comments in a Tuesday tweet:
Exploiting the tragedy of people who became victims of criminal pseudo-medical experiments in Auschwitz in a debate about vaccines, pandemic and people who fight for saving human lives is shameful. It is disrespectful to victims & a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.
It represents a staggering lack of imagination to resort to comparing a good man like Dr. Fauci with Nazis. Nor is this the first time that Republicans have resorted to so blatant and stomach-churning an instance of Godwin’s Law. Marjorie Taylor Green compared American Covid policies and the Democratic Party to Nazi Germany on at least five occasions.
Conspiracy theorist Joe Rogan likened federal vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany. Several Republican politicians have compared vaccine passports with the yellow badges some Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
I have no idea what the Holocaust was like. I am not Jewish and I wasn’t there. But I know enough about it and have enough imagination to know it must have been horrible far beyond anything I have ever had to endure. The sickening idea of being dragged from your home, separated from your family, tortured and slowly murdered by a bunch of sadistic psychopaths is too horrible to think about. Comparing the most awful cruelty in human history with a kindly doctor who turns 82 on Christmas Eve, a man who is trying to save lives and protect the world from a deadly pandemic, is an obscenity. It’s an example of what happens when escalating extremism tries to outdo itself. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.