WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Democratic Party called on the top Republican Jewish lawmaker to repudiate Rush Limbaugh after the radio host likened Democrats to Nazis.
"Rush Limbaugh’s comparison of the Democratic Party to the Nazi Party in World War II is as disgusting as it is shocking," said a statement Thursday from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Limbaugh’s use of the Nazi swastika in attempting to make a tasteless political comparison has no place in the public discourse. Just this past weekend, Minority Whip Eric Cantor said that the GOP ‘needs’ Mr. Limbaugh. He should immediately condemn Limbaugh’s hateful rhetoric in the strongest possible terms and encourage Republican members to do the same."
The reference to Cantor (R-Va.), who is Jewish, arose out of an interview in Ha’aretz. Cantor in the past has said that polarizing figures such as Limbaugh should not dominate the Republican discourse. In the Ha’aretz interview, he made clear that he still feels Limbaugh and other hard-liners have a place in the party.
Limbaugh launched his attack Thursday after U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decried the use of swastikas by protesters at town hall meetings aimed at explaining Obama administration health care proposals. Although Pelosi did not liken the protesters to Nazis — rather, she decried how the protesters liken Democrats to Nazis — Limbaugh accuses Pelosi of likening Republicans to Nazis.
"She’s running around now claiming that we’re Nazis, that not only are we an unruly mob but that people are showing up wearing swastikas," he said.
Limbaugh also maintains that Democrats are close to Nazis, citing as examples a truck driver who in 1997 appeared in Congress to back a Clinton-era tax plan and who as a teenager had tattooed a swastika on his arm. Limbaugh also says the symbol for the Obama health care plan resembles Nazi imagery.
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who founded the Institute on the Holocaust and the Law, called on Republicans to denounce Limbaugh’s comments.
"The Holocaust taught us that silence in the face of evil expression becomes acquiescence to evil," Israel said. "And what Limbaugh said is pure evil."