Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat has officially joined the ranks of the unhinged. Speaking on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin recited the contents of an e-mail he received from an anonymous FBI agent. He then said: “If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.”

Until recently, this reductio ad Hitlerium could be ignored as the sole domain of ideological leftists and certain Hollywood fools. Now it’s fast becoming a Democratic talking point for the 2006 mid-term elections.

There’s a legitimate point to be made that addressing Mr. Durbin’s impropriety would only give credibility to his argument. That’s surely why The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Durbin’s hometown newspaper, didn’t report his remarks. The Nazis killed 9 million prisoners in Hitler’s death camps, including 6 million Jews, and zero Guantanamo detainees have died at the hands of their U.S. captors. Josef Stalin imprisoned millions of his own people in the wastelands of Siberia, and millions died; American soldiers have captured only those who have taken up arms against them.

The senator’s slur does more than falsely malign American soldiers; it insults the millions of the innocents whom Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot butchered in the 20th century. Mr. Durbin cheapens their suffering and degrades their sacrifice for partisan gain. Out of respect for their memory and descendents still living, Mr. Durbin should apologize. He says he won’t, which may be just as well. An apology from a man who draws such a sordid analogy wouldn’t be worth much, anyway.

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