Conservatives Should Lose Their 'Al Qaeda are Worse Than Nazis' Talking Point

Millions of Nazis took large swaths of Europe by force; tens of millions died. Al Qaeda is a group of lunatics who live in caves.

If Republican leaders want to sound even remotely credible on national security, they're going to have to open a history textbook. With increasing frequency, they're arguing that suspected al Qaeda terrorists are a more serious threat than WWII-era Nazis.

The latest to make the claim: GOP Rep Pete Hoekstra, at a press conference today announcing the GOP's new "Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act," which is designed to restrict the housing of Guantanamo detainees on American soil.

Asked by a reporter whether this wasn't comparable to the detainment of Nazis in prisoner of war camps during World War II, Hoekstra said the two were "night and day" because of the threat of "homegrown terrorism" and because of 9/11.... Hoekstra appears to be making a slightly different argument: That the individual terror suspects are a greater threat than individual Nazis were on American soil because of their alleged association with terror.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a similar claim last week, telling Stanford University students, "Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States.... Three-thousand Americans died in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon."

The argument, in a nutshell, is that Nazis were bad, but at least they didn't kill Americans in America. Since al Qaeda has, it makes the terrorist threat more serious than the German threat in World War II.

The flaws in this kind of thinking are overwhelming.

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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