January 07, 2004,
Wes Boyd, founder of the left-wing activist website MoveOn.org, says he is angry about the attention being paid to two political ads, recently posted on MoveOn, that compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler. Boyd claims the commercials, which were entered in a MoveOn contest to find "really creative ads" that will help viewers "understand the truth about George Bush," are not representative of MoveOn or its members. "We do not support the sentiment expressed in the two Hitler submissions," Boyd said in a statement released Monday.
But referring to President Bush as a Nazi, or comparing the president to Hitler, are nothing new in the world of MoveOn. They are, in fact, a common mode of expression of some of the people associated with the website and its brand of political activism. Some examples:
George Soros, the billionaire financier who is MoveOn's most generous benefactor (in November, he gave the site $2.5 million) has compared the Bush administration to the Third Reich. Soros, who was born in Hungary and grew up under both Nazi and Soviet domination, told the Washington Post last November, "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans." He added, "My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me." Soros repeated his accusations in his new book, The Bubble of American Supremacy.
The makers of the antiwar ad "Army of One," which was chosen by MoveOn to be one of the 15 finalists in the anti-Bush competition, have also made a web movie entitled, "Bush is not a Nazi, so stop saying that." The movie, featured on the website Takebackthemedia.com, begins with ominous music and the warning: "The media will not tell you of the Bush family Nazi association." It goes on to accuse the Bushes of financing the Third Reich. It also features a series of intercut statements comparing George W. Bush to Hitler. "Both leaders had catastrophes occur allowing them to remove many civil rights," the movie says, showing side-by-side pictures of the Reichstag fire and the World Trade Center attacks. The screen switches to a photo of Bush with a young woman athlete and a picture of Hitler with an adoring young fan. "Imperialism seems to be a real turn-on," it says.
Filmmaker Michael Moore, one of the celebrities chosen by MoveOn to judge contest entrants, has suggested that the Bush administration is taking the first steps to Nazi-style authoritarianism. In his new book, Dude, Where's My Country?, Moore writes that "The Patriot Act is as un-American as Mein Kampf." Last October on CNN, Crossfire host Robert Novak said to Moore, "That's obscene, to compare the Patriot Act with Mein Kampf." "No," Moore answered, "The Patriot Act is the first step. Mein Kampf was written long before Hitler came to power. And if the people of Germany had done something early on to stop these early signs...if people don't speak up against this, you end up with something like they had in Germany."
Actress and comedienne Janeane Garofalo, also chosen by MoveOn to judge the contest, last year referred to the Bush administration as the "43rd Reich."
In light of those examples, it seems reasonable to argue that the themes explored in the two Bush-is-a-Nazi ads submitted to the MoveOn contest are a fair representation of the MoveOn view of George W. Bush. One ad featured photos of a Nazi parade with the on-screen narrative, "A nation warped by lies...lies fuel fear...fear fuels aggression...invasion...occupation." Cutting from a photo of Hitler to a photo of Bush, the ad concludes, "What were war crimes in 1945 is [sic] foreign policy in 2003." The other ad showed Hitler in full rant, then cut to Bush, and asked the question, "Sound familiar?"
Although MoveOn's Boyd disowned the ads, saying, "We agree that the two ads in question were in poor taste and deeply regret that they slipped through our screening process," he also sought to attack Republicans who had complained about the commercials. Boyd's statement, released on the MoveOn website, was headlined, "GOP Plays Dirty Politics in Attempt to Smear MoveOn.org Voter Fund."