President Barack Obama attended the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, and when there shook hands with the brother of Fidel Castro, Raul, now the president of Cuba.
Cue the Republicans going crazy.
And yes, I mean crazy. John McCain, the GOP's former standard bearer, compared the moment to Hitler. No, seriously. "Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler," he said.
I was trying to think of the best response to this, comparing the president to another Hitler Moment. (tm GOP). What debate and intricate points can one make to refute this? And the best response I've realized is --
No, your point is wrong and makes foolish sense.
That's it. Period. This is not anything like shaking hands with Adolf Hitler, der fuhrer. It's not even anything like shaking hands with Adolf Hitler's brothers.
No explanation is necessary. I figure that if anyone is going to compare this moment to Hitler, they either have absolutely no idea who Adolf Hitler was and why his actions are so reviled as gut-crushingly monstrous in the history of the world, that an explanation would have no meaning, or the person actually knows but is so pathetically disingenuous and pandering to the basest of ignorance that they're not open to any explanation or reality.
People of good will and sense know better.
The thing that makes all the Republican faux outrage and Hitler comparison so dismal is the perspective of place. Consider why all these world leaders were there in the first place.
They were honoring the life of Nelson Mandela.
And they were honoring the life of Nelson Mandela because this was a man who was imprisoned for 27 years under inhumane conditions, and when he was finally released, he took no revenge on his enemies, people who had not just kept him in prison for 27 years, but who had created laws to dehumanize an entire race and massacred many of those very people, and instead put out his hand for national unity and brought a viscerally divided nation together.
And the Republican far right are up in arms that the American President shook the hand of Fidel Castro's brother.
Imagine for a moment -- just imagine -- the reaction of the world if at this momentous memorial service honoring one of the great leaders of the 20th century who unimaginable decency inspired the world the United States President wouldn't even shake the hand of someone who attended the same event to honor such decency and courage.
We can reach out to Iran, but can't shake the hand of someone in greeting? Seriously?
Republicans, Mr. McCain, go to your room, no dessert, and don't come out until you understand what it was that you did to your sister.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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