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Monday, February 13, 2006

Holocaust Comparison?

Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele has come under fire (not the Dick Cheney kind of fire, though), for comments to the Baltimore Jewish Council that were perceived by some as over the lines of propriety. His comments:
You of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool.

Apparently, some found that comment to be unbelievably offensive, and they shot off their own comments in response. From WPost:
His remarks brought immediate condemnation from U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a leading Democrat in the race, whose wife was in the audience, and from others who were there.

"If the lieutenant governor was drawing a comparison between stem cell research and human medical experimentation during the Holocaust, he must understand the pain this kind of analogy would inflict on survivors and their families," said Arthur C. Abramson, the Baltimore Jewish Council's executive director.

"We absolutely reject any comparisons between ethical and lifesaving medical research and the horrors committed by the Nazis in their evil drive to create a master race," Abramson said. "We welcome any clarification Lieutenant Governor Steele can offer about his remarks."

Now, I personally agree with SIW's assessment that this is a pretty inoffensive Holocaust comparison:
The guy didn’t use the word “Holocaust,” didn’t bring in the general oppression and murder of the Nazis, and didn’t utilize the broader horror of the Holocaust to make his point. It’s absurd to make this into a Jewish issue.
However, I am beyond offended by Steele's attempt to compare stem cell research to something as objectively gruesome as the Nazi's human experimentation - but not because I find the Holocaust comparison to be the problem. His extremist views against embryonic stem cell research are what make me ill, not his purported lack of sympathy for Mengele's victims (which is far from evidenced by his statement).


Blogger Unknown said...

Clearly, he's agreeing that the Nazi atrocities are horrible; and he doesn't seem to be equating these to them, though his analogy is poor.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with you, om.
The problem here is that he didnt even chap that he was speaking to a group of Jews, and Jews aren't against stem cell research! He doesn't get that Jews are largely non-conservative on this issue, as jewish law doesn't forbid it.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

There certainly is a slippery slope in stem cell research and other controversial medical experiments like cloning and DNA selection. Plenty of medical professionals recognize such. Whether you support or do not support stem cell research, one should be able to recognize that these types of research should not be left unchecked.

Back to the statements: There is no reason for Jews to get offended. If you don't like the Lt. Govenor's opinion on stem cell research and other issues, then don't vote for him. But, for crying out loud, don't call him an anti-semite.

7:14 PM  
Blogger frig said...

I highly doubt his statement was meant to be anti-semitic. I just think he used poor judgement in the relaying his message.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This shows the incompetance of Steele and his handlers. A quick internet search would show that we are on the opposite side of this issue from that of the Roman Catholic Church. See for example http://www.ou.org/public/Publib/cloning.htm. This is one more example in which conservative Christians incorrectly think we are exactly like them except for the Jesus stuff. Steele will likely lose the election to Cardin or Mfume -- Maryland is basically a Democratic state and either of those two Democrats will run strong campaigns.

Interestingly, Steele's "boss", Governor Ehrlich, is basically pro-choice and AFAIK has not objected to stem cell research.

Sephardilady's point about this research not being unchecked is a good one, and it is ironic that the effect of Bush's funding ban is that there is essentially no regulation whatsoever, at least in the United States. I think I remember reading that Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler objected to this about a year ago.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez - can you not disagree with his position without being "offended" by his "extremism"?

He has a world-view that's different from yours (and mine), and sometimes he comes to different conclusions on complicated issues. This is somehow offensive? If it is, the word has lost all meaning.

- Moishe Potemkin

7:12 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

It's not about his anti-stem cell stance. I can deal with that, whether I agree with it or not. It's the fact that he is so against stem-cell research that he cannot see the distinction between the gruesome act of experimenting on sentient, conscious humans, and stem cell research, which makes use of a pre-sentient blastocyst. That is what offends me.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree, Mom. (And I'm a Marylander, so I get to vote against this loser.)

I think the comment is offensive. He is comparing stem cell research to Mengele, as is apparent from the context, which is offensive, not only because of his extremist pro-life position.

Steele is also a loser, generally. He has never held a job of substance, other than being picked to be Lt. Gov, which he got by virtue of being one of two black GOPers in Maryland, (the other being Alan Keys). It's scary how goofy this guy is.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm probably going to vote for Cardin regardless, but I'm not being as clear as I should.

From the perspective of the experimentee, obviously there's a difference between sentient beings and embryonic cells. His point is that from the emperimentor's perspective, messing around with life is unacceptable, and equivalent to whateverism. You don't have to agree with that to not find it offensive.

- Moishe Potemkin

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madame Mom-

"You of all folks know"?!?! That is a direct reference to Jews. He was talking to a Jewish audience. Does he need to SPELL IT OUT for you? Sky writing perhaps? Does he need to blog it? Of course he is making a reference to Jewish Holocaust victims and using it to justify his right-wing demagougery by somehow making the ghastly comparison between potentially life-saving research and some of the most heinos war crimes perpetrated in the name of anti-semitism, is reprehensible. Your equivocation on this issue is unconsionable, shameful, and shocking, and hardly muted by stating support for stem-cell research while you still add in parens " (which is far from evidenced by his statement)." It is clearly evidenced. Glad you ain't my mom, here's to wishing that Michael Steele's next vacation includes a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you people"is an offensive phrase which is used by bigots.Blacks go ballistic when they hear this phrase.This character (being black)should know better.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Mr. Steele forgot to inform his boss, the governor, about the horrors of stem cell research:


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