During a recent trip to Europe, a young American encountered an elderly German who had lived through the horrors of the Third Reich.
“What do the Germans think of Herman Cain?” asked the young tourist. “Do they want him to be President?”
“Nein, nein, nein,” cried the terrified German.
Maybe it was the fence.
On October 15, Cain offered his own “Final Solution” to illegal immigration. Addressing crowds in Tennessee, Cain said he would build an electrified fence on the Mexican border.
“It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you — Warning.’”
This was not the first time Cain had proposed such a solution. At a campaign stop in Iowa this summer, Cain suggested America build a border wall similar to the Great Wall of China.
“I just got back from China. Ever heard of the Great Wall of China? It looks pretty sturdy. And that sucker is real high. I think we can build one if we want to!
“We have put a man on the moon, we can build a fence! Now, my fence might be part Great Wall and part electrical technology. … It will be a twenty foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top, and on this side of the fence, I’ll have that moat that President Obama talked about. And I would put those alligators in that moat!”
The “alligators in the moat” comment referred to a joking remark by President Barack Obama last May.
Speaking on immigration reform during a visit to Texas, the President said of his Republican opponents: “They’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied.”
The proposed fence–and the obvious relish Cain showed for electrocuting people–immediately sparked a backlash, especially among Hispanics.
So Cain blamed those who had taken his remarks seriously.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press with David Gregory, Cain said, “That’s a joke, David … That’s not a serious plan. I’ve also said America needs to get a sense of humor.”
Thus, Cain tries to have it both ways.
First, he blasts his critics when they don’t take him seriously–such as accusing blacks of being “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats.
And then he blasts his critics when they do take him seriously–by taking him at his word that he wants to build an electrified fence to fry illigal immigrants.
Of course, maybe what most appalled the German was Cain’s recent TV ad. In this, Cain’s chief of staff Mark Block puffs on a cigarette for no apparent reason.
But maybe it wasn’t the smoking that upset the German. Perhaps it was the swelling music and vocals that came at the end: “I Am America–One Voice, United We Stand.”
A photo of a smiling Cain is to the right section of the screen. The picture–and the music–clearly implies that the “I Am America” in the lyrics refers to Cain himself; that “One Voice” refers to Cain’s voice; and that “United We Stand” refers to his followers.
That was essentially the message that echoed through Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. As Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s second-in-command said during a speech before a huge audience at Nuremberg: “Hitler is Germany–Germany is Hitler!”
And the Germans certainly were united behind Hitler–united enough to plunge the world into war and murder millions of innocents.
This might seem a far-fetched fear, except that Republicans take their annointed Fuehrers seriously.
Under Richard Nixon, those who peacefully opposed the Vietnam war were investigated and targeted for prosecution by not only the FBI but the CIA–a violation of Federal law.
And those who ran against Nixon in 1972 were victimized by a series of dirty tricks worthy of the KGB. Among these: The bugging of the Democratic campaign headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.
Under the most recent Republican President, George W. Bush, normally apolitical Secret Service agents roughed up and arrested non-violent anti-Bush demonstrators.
And when a member of the Dixie Chicks said she was embarrassed that Bush came from her home state of Texas, she found herself targeted for threats and boycots by “mainstream” Republicans rallying around their Leader.
Americans would do well to remember the words of Robert F. Kennedy during his brief, doomed Presidential campaign in 1968:
“Those who now call for an end to dissent seem not to understand what this country is all about. For debate and dissent are the very heart of the American process.
“We have followed the wisdom of Greece: ‘All things are to be examined and brought into question. There is no limit set to thought.’”
That should be especially true for candidates like Cain–who believes global warming is a myth, wants to eliminate all corporate taxes, and insists that to become more like China, America must rid itself of the minimum wage.