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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Hot air: Using Hitler's image grossly irresponsible



Back in January, the Web site of MoveOn.org, an Internet advocacy group opposed to the re-election of President Bush, briefly carried a video that included images of Adolf Hitler. The video was one of 1,500 entries in a solicitation for homemade advertisements critical of Bush.

MoveOn.org removed the video and issued an apology for the Bush-Hitler ads. But one week later at an event announcing winners of its contest, some participants stayed on the Nazi theme with a series of jokes. It was tasteless and classless.

But tasteless, classless hot air is a universal commodity that blows both ways across the political landscape, which explains why an ad now on the Bush-Cheney campaign Web site slips the same image of a ranting Hitler in among clips of Sen. John Kerry, former Vice President Al Gore, Rep. Richard Gephardt, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and filmmaker Michael Moore shouting their criticisms of the president during various speeches. The ad is labeled as a "Coalition of the Wild-Eyed."

Nicolle Devenish, a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign, was quoted in the New York Times June 25 saying the video "was created to show our supporters what we're up against." She said, "Team Kerry is an angry, rage-filled group that offers no positive vision for America."

Give us a break. Comparing the campaign of either party to the ruthless insanity of Hitler is so far over the edge that it doesn't even qualify as political comment.

This is outrageously insensitive, and it insults the American political process. Anyone, in either campaign, who would use the image of Hitler and comparisons to the excesses of Nazism to deride the opposing candidate ought to be sacked.

The MoveOn.org piece in January was a brief mistake, quickly corrected. The ad on the Bush-Cheney site intentionally tries to link the Democratic candidate to Hitler. It was sent to 6 million people on the campaign e-mail list, and it has been left up with no apology. A precede on the clip calls it "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party."

The piece ends with the comment: "It's time for optimism, steady leadership and progress."

No, it is time to take this ad down and to apologize for using such an image.

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Have you heard, seen or read a statement for a politician, media personality or other public figure that you think doesn't quite add up? Let us know, and we'll check it out. Call Ray Cooklis at (513) 768-8525; e-mail rcooklis@enquirer.com




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