Friday, July 10, 2009


As you may know, Senator Jim DeMint recently said that Barack Obama is running a Hitlerian administration. Yes, it's shocking that DeMint said that -- but did he say it, at least in part, out of envy? Does DeMint think he himself, and his pals, are supposed to be the Hitlers?

Here's what DeMint said:

...we're about where Germany was before World War II where they became a social democracy. You still had votes but the votes were just power grabs like you see in Iran, and other places in South America, like Chavez is running down in Venezuela. People become more dependent on the government so that they're easy to manipulate.

It's a curious thing for DeMint to say, because he's one of the members of Congress who live together at the house known as C Street, which is run by a secretive Christian-right group alternately called the Family or the Fellowship -- a house and organization that are becoming notorious for their connection to the Mark Sanford and John Ensign sex scandals.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, a lot of positive things are said about Hitler within the Family. That's according to Jeff Sharlet, who lived in one of the group's residences for a time and wrote a book about the group. In an interview with Lindsay Beyerstein last year, Sharlet talked about the Family's deep and abiding interest in at least the techniques of Hitler and other fascists:

Lindsay Beyerstein: In "The Family," a lot of subjects explicitly state their admiration for Hitler and other authoritarian political figures. How much of that is admiring their style, and how much is admiring their substance?

Jeff Sharlet: I'd argue that there isn't a hell of a lot of difference. I spent a lot of time living with these guys, and I remember at one point asking them, "What's the deal with all this Hitler talk?" And they'd say, "Oh, it's not the ends, it's the means." But to most of us, the means seem pretty bad, too. The means are authoritarianism.

It's pretty close to the substance because it grows out of this very broad movement in the 1930s of elites concluding that democracy has run its course, that democracy was a temporary phase in world history. And so, these people were experimenting with all sorts of different alternatives. And remember, before World War II it was considered a perfectly legitimate and acceptable position to endorse fascism

And last night, on Rachel Maddow's show, Sharlet added,

I got to sit in on one of these spiritual counseling sessions between the leader of the Family and Congressman Todd Tiahrt when I visited the C Street house -- I actually met Senator Ensign there. As the leader of the Family was counseling Congressman Tiahrt, who had this very standard-issue bill of issues related to the Christian right, and he said, "You've got to have a bigger vision of what we're talking about here." He called it "Jesus plus nothing," and he said it's a sort of a totalitarian idea of Christianity, and he gave as examples men who he believed understood the way power should be wielded. He actually gave as examples Hitler, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden, and Lenin.

DeMint, then, is affiliated with a group born of the notion that democracy is inadequate and core groups of elitist should reign. So when he says Barack Obama's turning us into Nazi Germany and getting the populace to the point where "they're easy to manipulate," maybe what he's really thinking is "Hey, that's our job!"

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