Thursday, October 09, 2003

The Nazis made the Jews wear pieces of flair!
I'm not exactly the first person to jump on this bandwagon, but Grover Norquist's comments about the Estate Tax on NPR are without question the most outrageous thing I've heard in a long time. On Terry Gross's "Fresh Air" program, Norquist stated flatly that taxing the inheritance of the wealthy is akin to the slaughter of 6 million Jews. Referring to arguments about how the small number of extremely rich Americans should pay more in taxes, he reasoned: "I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust. 'Well, it's only a small percentage,' you know. 'I mean, it's not you, it's somebody else.'"

No, Grover, you raving lunatic, the morality of the Holocaust was that it's acceptable to murder an entire group of people, while the morality of the estate tax is that the excessive concentration of wealth is both unjust and unhealthy for functioning democracies. You may disagree with the principle of progressive taxation (although I think it makes you an admirer of oligarchy), but to compare it the principles of Nazism is disgraceful and moronic.

Amazingly, Norquist has yet to repudiate these remarks. In fact, his website proudly links to the NPR interview. The incident, as far as I can tell, is a perfect encapsulation of the radical right's moral economy: roll back the New Deal, dismantle all checks on the untrammeled accumulation of riches, and paint anyone concerned about inequality and progress as either closet socialists or immoral class warriors.

There's been a lot of facile blather lately about "being on the right side of history." But if ever there were a right side and a wrong side of history, it's the unrestricted robber baron capitalism of the Gilded Age versus the humane social democracy of the postwar liberal order. Which side are you on, Grover? Better yet, on which side are the Republicans of George W. Bush and the Texas Republicans? Check out the Texas GOP platform and decide for yourself.

Only with that witless scion of old money in the White House, and with all three branches of government under the control of the Calvin Coolidge wing of the GOP, could a man like Grover Norquist be accepted in polite society. Come November 2004, anyone to the left of Tom DeLay needs to rally around Wes Clark, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, or even Carol Mosely-Braun before four more years of full-bore top-down class warfare succeeds in demolishing the meager remnants of social democracy in this country.

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