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Right Wing "Tiller was a Nazi" Rhetoric Fails History Test

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The Nazis were both pro-abortion and pro-life. They were NOT, however, pro-choice. That's the lesson we should take from the Third Reich.

One thing that has come out of Dr. Tiller's assassination is yet another reminder of how willing people are to co-opt history without fully understanding it. In this case, we are being told that Tiller got what he deserved because he was guilty of "Nazi stuff," as Bill O'Reilly professed on June 8, 2005.

The person who is accused of killing Tiller purportedly referred to him as "the concentration camp Mengele of our day." And a cursory examination of pro-life speakers and materials finds several parallels drawn between Nazi Germany and abortion in America. The millions killed in the Concentration Camps are endlessly compared to the number of fetuses aborted since Roe v. Wade.

But there's just one problem: the Nazis were pro-life, too. And pro-abortion (NOT "pro-choice") when their twisted, racial supremacist-motivated Eugenics programs called for it. Indeed, Hitler's regime serves as a reminder of what happens when a government decides to control all aspects of life. They decided who could not have children and who should be forced to have children. They mandated abortions and sterilizations in some, while forbidding abortions and contraception to others, all to serve their ultimate goal of an Aryan nation.

To compare the modern pro-life movement to Nazi Germany is to seriously miss the point of what that government was all about - the total control of a nation and its people. It is true that the American Eugenics movement of the early 20th century acted in a shameful manner that has since been discredited (and, unfortunately, swept under the rug). But while pro-life proponents are quick to point out the connections between Planned Parenthood and that movement, they fail to point out that what exists today is a far cry from what was then.

At no time in recent history has a the pro-choice movement ever spoken of forcing any person to do anything in terms of their own biological choices. Dr. Tiller never went door to door with guards and guns to force "unfit" women to have abortions. Dr. Tiller didn't forcibly sterilize women or outlaw contraception. Instead, he provided a politically unpopular service to women in need of late term abortions. People went to him, not the other way around. And he was one of the few doctors in America they could go to, no doubt due to those who vilified him as a "Nazi."

Using the term "Nazi" to describe an abortion doctor is to mishandle the term, and act to cover up the full horror of the Third Reich's attempts to control its nation's biological destiny, and sanitize the world of "lesser" races. Whether we believe abortion should be legal or illegal, it would behoove us to remember that history is much more complex and nuanced than we might like to admit. While we should remember the past, and continue to draw parallels between it and the present to find the future, we should also remember ALL of it, and not just the bits that seem to uphold our own viewpoints.

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J. Edward Tremlett is a lot of things, currently. He's back in the states after a seven-year stint in Dubai, UAE. He's been published in such diverse places as The American Partisan, the International American, The End is Nigh, Pyramid Magazine (more...)

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