Many years ago, an alderman offered me some words of advice that I’ve been following ever since.
“Benny, my boy,” he told me over a very liquid lunch, “never, ever compare anyone around here to Hitler.”
By that he meant that since Hitler was the epitome of evil, it would be an injustice to the tens of millions of people he slaughtered to compare him to some local politician, no matter how petty or corrupt.
So, I’m choosing my words carefully as I approach the subject of Mary Miller, the congresswoman from southern Illinois who recently offered three words I never thought I’d hear from an elected official . . .
“Hitler was right.”
Since making those remarks, Congresswoman Miller has apologized, more or less. I’ll get to her classically Republican, oh-woe-is-me-apology in a bit. But first a few basics . . .
Miller is an unabashedly pro-Trump Republican and was recently elected congresswoman from the 15th District. On Tuesday, January 5, she was in Washington, D.C., addressing the Moms for America rally.
It was in that speech that she uttered those three words that will probably be forever linked to her, whether she likes it or not. Here’s the full quote:
“Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation. You know, if we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing, unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing: He said, ‘Whoever has the youth, has the future.’ Our children are being propagandized.”
As criticism of her remarks poured in, Miller’s office tweeted out a clarification that was almost as outrageous as her initial comments: “Congresswoman Miller’s statement was a denunciation of evil dictators’ efforts to re-educate young people and similar efforts by left-wing radicals in our country today.”
To be clear, she hadn’t really denounced Hitler in her original remarks. Moreover, she continued to minimize Hitler’s crimes against humanity by comparing him to unnamed “left-wing radicals in our country”—most of whom would have been on the front lines fighting Hitler had they been around back in the day.
Finally, three days after she made her original “Hitler was right” comment, Miller apologized. Sorta.
“I sincerely apologize for any harm my words caused and regret using a reference to one of the most evil dictators in history to illustrate the dangers that outside influences can have on our youth,” she wrote in a statement. “While some are trying to intentionally twist my words to mean something antithetical to my beliefs, let me be clear: I’m passionately pro-Israel and I will always be a strong advocate and ally of the Jewish community.”
Note the reference to those unnamed word twisters. Hey, Republicans, if you want people to think you actually believe it when you say you’re sorry, stop whining about the people who forced you to say it in the first place.
In other words, own up to what you did or said that was wrong and stop acting like you’re the victim.
Generally, such apologies are offered as a way to change the subject so everyone moves on as though the offense was never committed.
But not so fast. I’m still wondering what Miller was really getting at with her “Hitler was right” remark.
There is a standing joke among comedians that anything that comes after “say what you will about Hitler” is not something that you would really want to say.
’Cause no matter what you say, it’s going to sound like you’re praising someone who can’t be praised.
For instance, it’s a joke when Walter Sobchak—the John Goodman character in The Big Lebowski—unfavorably compares Nihilists to Nazis by declaring: “Say what you will about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos.”
But Congresswoman Miller wasn’t joking when she said “Hitler was right.” She was trying to make a point.
I suspect she was alluding to something Hitler said in a speech in 1935: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
Hitler’s plan was to indoctrinate Germans at an early age so they’d be loyal to him for the rest of their lives.
Think of that chilling scene in Cabaret where the good Germans rise to join the baby-faced member of Hitler Youth as he sings: “Tomorrow belongs to me.”
In her speech at the Moms for America rally, Congresswoman Miller went on to say: “Fill your children’s minds with what is true, and right, and noble. And then they can overcome evil with good. Because they can actually discern between what is evil and what is good.”
Apparently, the key to victory in the battle between good and evil is to “fill” young brains with “what is true.” Even if that truth is a lie—like Donald Trump won an election that he actually lost.
On Wednesday, Miller was one of 147 Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election as president on make-believe allegations of fraud.
By the way, her husband is Chris Miller, state representative from the 110th District. He attended the Save America rally in Washington where Trump incited his MAGA followers to besiege the Capitol.
And they replaced American flags with Trump flags—as though their allegiance is to Trump, not America.
In comments he released on social media while attending that rally, Chris Miller declared: “We’re engaged in a great cultural war to see which worldview will survive. Whether we will remain a free people under free-market capitalism or whether they will put us in the tyranny of socialism, communism, and the dangerous Democrat terrorists that are trying to destroy our country.”
So there you have it, folks. It’s a fight between freedom versus tyranny. Capitalism versus communism. Republicans versus “dangerous Democratic terrorists.”
Fill those young brains with such “truths” and turn them loose on anyone who dares to disagree.
Like I said, I hesitate to compare anyone to Hitler. But this all sure sounds like something he might say. v