I really hate being forced to blog about anything related to state Sen. Stacey Campfield, because he's an attention whore, and I don't like engaging in the vicious cycle. However, Campfield's "Thought of the Day" today, currently posted both on his blog and his Facebook page, is so appalling that there's not getting around not mentioning it.
Yes, Campfield really actually typed these words, and then posted them online, in more than one place, for the world to see: "Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory sign ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s."
Never mind that Campfield, as usual, can't be bothered with spellcheck. Never mind that health insurance -- even if it's mandatory -- is something that saves people's lives, or maybe just helps them improve their health, or maybe just saves them money, since out-of-pocket medical care is insanely expensive. Never mind that if you don't actually get the mandatory health care, you have to pay a tax penalty, which sucks, I guess, but still isn't all that big a deal. But holy Mary mother of Jesus, how does a human being in this world, in this country, in the year 2014, not have any kind of concept that there is literally -- and yes, I am using that in the literal sense of the word -- NOTHING comparable between the Affordable Care Act and the Holocaust?
Six million people, the majority of them Jews, died in the Holocaust. Those who did make it out of the concentration camps, or who escaped the pogroms and were hidden by sympathizers (and yes, some of them were German -- not everyone in the entire country supported the Nazi regime), lived through unspeakable horrors, losing family and friends, children and parents, their homes, their belongings, their money, their entire way of life.
I watched video after video of survivors telling their stories when I worked for the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale. It's not a summer job I'd recommend -- when I was there, you couldn't work more than 12 hours a week, to prevent psychological damage. I thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust going in. One of my best friends' grandmother was a survivor who had lost her son, her parents. But transcribing interview after interview, harrowing tale after harrowing tale, I was forced to confront the enormity of the evil that had taken place. And it was -- and still is -- unfathomable.
You can compare the Holocaust to other genocides. You can say that what happened in Germany and Eastern Europe in the 30s and 40s is somewhat like what happened in Turkey around the time of the first World War or what happened in the Balkans in the 90s or what happened in Rwanda or what happened Darfur, and you will be somewhat right. And you can say the genocide in Rwanda, or somehere else -- there have been a lot of genocides in our stupid history -- had horrors the Holocaust did not, and that is also likely somewhat true. Genocides are mass exterminations by definition, but each happened in its own way, so I know comparing two of them can be like comparing apples and oranges.
However, apples and oranges are both fruit. They're different, but they're similar, too. The Affordable Care Act -- or Obamacare, if that's your term of choice -- is not fruit. Or a vegetable. Or anything edible. It's not anything at all that you can compare to the deliberate and systematic murder of six million people in an attempt to wipe out an entire race and religion. You can hate Obamacare. You can complain about how you're now paying more for your insurance and getting less, how you can't see your favorite doctor anymore, how the federal government spent a lot of taxpayer dollars on a crummy website, how nationalized healthcare is a bad idea, how the president is secretly a Communist, how Democrats should all be run out of office and tarred and feathered and maybe thrown in the deepest pits of hell -- that's all well and good. But you cannot compare a law requiring people to buy health insurance to the Holocaust.
You just can't.
It's so far beyond offensive -- to the millions who died, to the ones who survived, to anyone with any sense of decency whatsoever -- that there are no words to describe it. If I'm Richard Briggs and Cheri Siler, I'm making calls to every Jewish organization in the state and asking for donations. Oh, and probably the Anti-Defamation League too.
UPDATE, 11:31 a.m.: Our pals at the Nashville Scene received this comment from Tennessee Republican Party chairman Chris Devaney:
"While Stacey Campfield routinely makes remarks that are over the top, today's comments are ignorant and repugnant. No political or policy disagreement should ever be compared to the suffering endured by an entire generation of people. Those comments have no place in our public discourse. He should offer an apology to members of the Jewish faith immediately."
Devaney's no stranger to making offensive comments himself, so if he's upset, you know Campfield's in trouble.
UPDATE 2, 12:22 p.m.: Via the Tennesseean, here's Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron's statement:
"Senator Campfield's blog post this morning is just the latest example of Tea Party Republican extremism. To compare attempts to save American lives through access to healthcare with Nazis killing European Jews is outrageous, pathetic, and hateful. ... Sen. Campfield and other Tea Party Republicans ought to look at the 5,000 Tennesseans who will die within the next 3 years because Tea Party Republicans refused to take the 100% federal funding to expand Medicaid and have denied working Tennesseans access to healthcare."
If I get any more salient responses, I'll continue to post them here.
UPDATE 3, 1:42 p.m.: Well, as you might have guessed, Campfield's remarks have now gone viral. The story's on CNN, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. We assume the Daily Show will be the next stop.
Also, Campfield's Democratic opponent, Cheri Siler, has written a blog post condemning his comments. She writes:
"It is deplorable that Campfield is trivializing the loss of millions of Jews. He is clearly politicizing this to get free earned [sic] media. With so much at stake in the state of Tennessee, we cannot afford to have our elected officials making inflammatory statements of this magnitude."*
Of course, if Campfield loses in the primary, Siler will be running against Knox County Commission Richard Briggs. Or, we guess, Campfield buddy Mike Alford. Although we don't see him as a particularly viable candidate, Knox Countians might think he's swell solely based on his Facebook profile picture.
Anyway, neither Alford nor Briggs have commented on Campfield's post. Yet. We're sure this isn't the end.
*Apparently Siler's updated that blog post. Her response now reads:
"With so much at stake in the state of Tennessee, we cannot afford to have our elected officials making inflammatory statements of this magnitude. It is deplorable that Campfield is trivializing the loss of millions of Jews. He is clearly politicizing this sensitive subject to get free earned media. By his own words, he proves that he is as cheap as he is classless."
UPDATE 4, 2:00 p.m.: Tom Humphrey over at the KNS actually talked to Campfield. Surprise! He's not sorry!
"Campfield, contacted by phone, said 'it was never my intent to insult anyone,' but he is not making an apology and believes the analogy is appropriate.'I think Jewish people should be the first to stand up against Obamacare,' Campfield said. 'If government is controlling people's health insurance, they are potentially controlling people's lives....letting the government choose who lives and who dies.'"
I can't even. No, really, I can't.
UPDATE 5, 2:18 p.m.: Just got off the phone with Briggs. He said he hasn't yet read the actual blog post, but he's heard about the controversy, and he's taking the high road -- or something like that -- at least for now. Here's what Briggs said:
"We're just not going to comment at all. I'm just not going to make a statement on something of that nature."
A smart political strategy? Or an inability to capitalize on a moment that could change the campaign? I honestly have no idea. I've put a call into Alford too, so stay tuned.
UPDATE 6, 3:14 p.m.: Campfield has sent Humphrey an email, which the latter has posted on his blog.* It looks like Stacey got some help writing it, because there are none of his usual misspellings or incorrect capitalizations. But again, there's no apology. His only regret is that you, you cretins, are missing the point of his post! It was really about abortion, you dummies!
I regret that some people miss the point of my post. It was not to offend. It was to warn. To draw attention to Obamacare and the slippery slope that I see occurring in the lives of myself, my constituents, and the rest of the country with the continued taking of freedom by the federal government.In no way was my post meant to diminish or detract from the pain, suffering and loss of human life that occurred during this dark time in human history. Instead the post was meant to draw attention to the loss of freedom that we are currently experiencing. I stand by my steadfast opposition to Obamacare.My position and record on the sacredness of human life and protecting that life speaks for itself. 300 million Americans are at risk from government bureaucrats deciding who should be given life saving medications and who should be denied.Every citizen now faces the possibility of their tax dollars going to pay for a government funded abortion. At no point in our history have we ever faced a federal government and administration with a lower regard for human life, and that is something that I cannot and will not allow to go unchallenged.I will continue to stand up against the government takeover of the nations healthcare. I will continue to support freedom and life.
Campfield did miss one apostrophe, so his special proofreading team didn't succeed at its job after all. But if this kind of inane response and non-apology doesn't piss you off as much almost as the original blog post, well ... I guess you're figured out who's got your vote come August.
UPDATE 7, 5:33 p.m.: Just when I thought I was out (for the day, anyway), they've pulled me back in ...*Campfield has now posted the same statement on his own blog. But go give the KNS traffic, not him, please.
I finally heard back from Alford. He's not exactly critical. But, then, he's pals with Stacey, so birds of a feather, etc. Anyway, here's his statement:
"His comment is a little far out there. Its a analogy that I wouldn't have used, but Mr. Campfield statement is not completely inaccurate. Just a poor choice of words." [all sic]
I'm beginning to wonder whether the conservative opposition to Common Core is really about an opposition to learning to use apostrophes correctly.
Meanwhile, state House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick has also issued a statement on the whole mess -- and it's harsh:
"I was shocked by Senator Campfield's disgraceful blog post that compared a policy dispute with the suffering of an entire race of people. The far-reaching effects of the Holocaust are still felt today, and any effort to cheapen that suffering is distasteful and classless. I call on Senator Campfield to apologize immediately."
Campfield, of course, is in the Senate, so he's probably like, "Whatevs, Gerald, whatevs." Especially since he told the AP he didn't give a flip about state GOP chair Devaney's statement (see the first update above):
"'He never called me ... If he wants to apologize to Obama, he can.'"
Which, um, what? Stacey, that doesn't even make sense.
That said, I'm kind of surprised at the mildness of the statement issued by the Knoxville Jewish Alliance:
"Foolish comments like this tend to trivialize the Holocaust."
"'Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange.'"
I'm going to leave it at this for the evening, barring any further actual developments other than people issuing statements. (Please, please, let this be so.) However, we did find this woman's suggestion to Dan Savage via Twitter rather appealing ...
UPDATE 8, 9:10 p.m.: Well, it looks like Briggs changed his mind and decided to issue a statement after all, albeit one that doesn't mention health care or the Holocaust or the Jewish faith or the general wrongness of what happened today. Via Facebook:
"I'm running against Stacy Campfield for State Senate because I do not believe he has the credibility to ably represent the people of Knox County in the state senate. That has been the case for quite some time and we need a change."
Sounds like he's already got the Nashville lingo down pat.