I understand that people have different views on the issue of health-care reform.
My family and I rely on my health-care plan, and I want to make sure it's there for us. At the same time, I can't accept the fact that so many millions of my fellow citizens are without coverage. I don't see those two concerns as irreconcilable.
Clearly, something has to be done. I would hope that we, as reasonable people, could hash this out in a civil manner and come to some type of consensus. Most likely, it will be a compromise that, like all compromises, doesn't make everyone happy but achieves important goals.
We are not going to be able to do that as long as Religious Right leaders continue to engage in demagoguery and spout incendiary and misleading language.
Last month I wrote about attending the "Values Voter Summit" and hearing Religious Right leaders and their political allies attack health-care reform. It's obvious they don't like some of the proposals that are out there. That's fine. But what's not fine is that many of their arguments are based on a tissue of lies designed not to educate people but to whip them into a state of frenzy.
Now Richard Land, chief lobbyist for the Southern Baptist Convention's Washington, D.C. public policy arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is getting in on the act.
Land, addressing the Christian Coalition of Florida at a Sept. 26 banquet in Orlando, said some things that can only be described as shameful. His comments were beyond reckless. They were appalling, and I'm surprised that haven't gained wider circulation and condemnation.
I'll let Land speak for himself. In the following passage, "they" refers to President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress: "I want to put it to you bluntly. What they are attempting to do in healthcare, particularly in treating the elderly, is not something like what the Nazis did. It is precisely what the Nazis did. Let's remember, the first 10,000 victims of the Holocaust were not Jews, they were mentally handicapped German children who were gassed and burned in ovens because they were considered to have ... lives unworthy of life."
Reported the Florida Baptist Witness, "Land said he has bestowed on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the president's chief healthcare advisor, the 'Dr. Josef Mengele Award' for his advocacy of healthcare rationing. Mengele was the German SS officer and medical doctor dubbed the 'Angel of Death' for his role in the Holocaust."
Land repeated the lie that allowing a doctor to be compensated for meeting with a patient to discuss advance directives and end-of-life care is somehow akin to setting up a "death panel." It has been repeated time and time again – but it's a lie and a dangerous one.
Thanks to Land and his fellow propagandists, many people are delaying making plans for end-of-life care. That's short sighted because – I hate to break this to you – we are all going to die some day.
He also went on a tear about cancer survival rates in England. It's true that they aren't so good. Other Western European nations with health-care plans do much better. But bringing up the U.K.'s National Health Service is irrelevant because no one is talking about importing that type of plan to this country. England's socialized medicine is a big, scary bogeyman for Land to wave at his audience while he rants.
But it's the Nazi comparison that really gets me. Let's be clear about what Land is saying. Determining a precise figure for the Nazi death toll due to deliberate extermination is difficult, but most scholars agree that the number approaches or perhaps exceeds 10 million. This includes Jews, Poles, the Roma people, gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled and others.
Under the Third Reich, 10 million people were gassed, shot, tortured to death and otherwise murdered. According to Land, this is "precisely" what advocates of health-care reform want.
Land represents the largest Protestant denomination in America. It is remarkable that this type of vituperation spews forth from his mouth and no one says a peep. Doesn't he have a supervisor? Are all 16 million Southern Baptists in this country comfortable being represented by this partisan demagogue?
Are they happy for their top representative in the nation's capital to be a man whose operating principles does not come from the teachings of Jesus Christ but is instead a cynical version of "the ends justify the means"?
Land has spouted extreme rhetoric before, but this speech is a new low. This time, he has simply gone too far. Why this man still has a job is beyond me.