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Facing up to Facebook comments

Brenda Barton

Brenda Barton

Barton gains nationwide notoriety for observations on Hitler, Obama

Republican Rep. Brenda Barton of Payson has “clarified” her Facebook page post comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler after stirring up a wave of national criticism.

Her post Oct. 7 urged county sheriffs to revoke authority from National Parks Service employees who are enforcing the federal shutdown on national parks lands.

“Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer… where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest??? Do we have any Sheriffs with a pair?” she wrote.

Fuhrer is a German term for leader that is commonly associated with Hitler, the Nazi dictator.

In a telephone interview with the Arizona Capitol Times, Barton stood by the comments, saying the comparison between Obama and Hitler was apt, at least in their style of leadership. Democrats and others were quick to attack Barton, and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell even went so far as to call for her resignation.

“To call Rep. Brenda Barton’s comments disgraceful is an understatement.” Campbell said in a statement. “Her ignorance is appalling and offensive. By comparing President Obama to Hitler, she has trivialized the Holocaust, insulted those who suffered and disrespected those who fought to stop the atrocities occurring during that time… She should apologize or resign.”

Barton said she didn’t believe she owed Obama an apology. She said her comments were designed to attract attention and start a conversation, but she still doesn’t think it is insensitive or controversial and didn’t regret the post.

But two days later, after Barton was slammed by a flurry of social media posts, and national and local news sources picked up the story, she attempted to walk back the comments.

“Let me clarify that I never used the word or said that President Obama was ‘Hitler.’ That was a creative assumption of the Capitol Times reporter,” she wrote in a statement.

In the 15-minute telephone interview with the Capitol Times earlier in the week, Barton made it explicitly clear that she was, in fact, referring to Hitler.

“Comparing him to Adolf Hitler is controversial?… No, I don’t think that’s controversial at all. My point is, and I have said it already, is the imperialistic style of governance, making life difficult for the citizens and residents of America and Arizona, causing immense grief and trouble to make them suffer,” she said.

 

 

A closer look at her comments

“(Hitler) started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people.”

Rep. Brenda Barton, a Payson Republican

 

Gun control

German gun laws have been historically stricter than those in the United States, but under Nazi rule, Germany actually loosened gun regulations for most people. The Weapons Law of 1938 represented a liberalization of the 1928 Law on Firearms and Ammunition.

The Nazi-era law applied only to handguns, effectively deregulating the acquisition of rifles and shotguns. It lowered the minimum age for buying a gun from 20 to 18, and extended firearm carry permit’s validity from one year to three, among other liberal revisions of the 1928 law. Both the 1928 and 1938 gun laws included a form of gun registry system. Jews, however, were aggressively disarmed during Hitler’s rule, and were expressly prohibited from owning guns and other weapons. Nazi regulations implemented in 1938 required Jews to turn all weapons over to local police.

Source: On the NRA, Adolf Hitler, Gun Registration, and the Nazi Gun Laws: Exploding the Culture Wars [A Call to Historians] by Bernard E. Harcourt, professor of law and political science at the University of Chicago

http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/harcourt_fordham.pdf

 

National health care

Germany had the world’s first universal health care system, though it came about in the late 1800s, long before Hitler was in power. During the Nazi regime, Hitler reorganized the system under the strict control of Berlin. Later, Hitler began his mass murdering program, forcing doctors to euthanize those who didn’t fit his vision of good Germans. The 1933 Law for the Prevention of Progeny of Hereditary Disease intended to consolidate social and health policies in the German population and prohibit the right of reproduction for persons defined as “genetically inferior.”

Sources: German Historical Institute

Pacific Standard Magazine: “Nazis and Health Care”

http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/pdf/eng/English30.pdf

http://www.psmag.com/politics/nazis-and-health-care-3483/

 

Hitler elected?

In 1932, Adolf Hitler ran for president against sitting president Paul von Hindenburg and came in second in both rounds of the election, never winning more than 37 percent of the vote. In January 1933, Hindenburg appointed Hitler chancellor of Germany. In the same year, German lawmakers approved the Enabling Act, which handed over parliament’s power of legislation, control of the Reich budget, approval of treaties with foreign states and initiating of constitutional amendment to the Reich cabinet for four years. On Aug. 2, 1934, Hindenburg died, and the cabinet combined the offices of chancellor and president and Hitler took over the powers of the head of state and commander in chief of the Armed Forces. Aug. 20, 1934, only after Hitler had cemented his dictatorship, were German voters asked to approve of Hitler’s assumption of power. The vote was 90 percent in favor, and The New York Times the next day described the “poll” saying: “By every appeal known to skillful politicians and with every argument to the contrary suppressed, (Germans) were asked to make their approval unanimous. Nevertheless 10 per cent of the voters have admittedly braved possible consequences by answering ‘No.’”

Sources: “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L Shirer Hitler Endorsed by 9 to 1 in Poll on his Dictatorship, but Opposition Is Doubled, The New York Times, Aug. 20, 1934

http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/readinghall/PDF-Modern-History/Shirer-TheRiseAndFallOfTheThirdReich.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0819.html#article

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