In a month that has been marked by debate over the tone of political rhetoric, Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is defending his comments in which he compared Republican attacks on the healthcare law to Nazi propaganda that was spread during the Holocaust.
According to media reports, Cohen, who is Jewish, made the remarks in front of a mostly empty House chamber on Jan. 18. When arguing against the GOP's bid to repeal Obamacare, he said: "They don't like the truth so they summarily dismiss it. They say it's a government takeover of healthcare, a big lie just like [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels."
His comments raised the ire of the National Jewish Democratic Council, which serves as a liaison between the Jewish community and Democratic lawmakers. In a statement on its Website, the group said that any reference to the Holocaust in an attempt to make a political point is unacceptable.
Cohen has defended his statement, claiming that he wasn't comparing the Republicans to Nazis, but instead warning his peers about the dangers of spreading lies.
In addition to referencing Goebbels, Cohen also used the term "blood libel" to characterize the GOP's repeal efforts. This comes a week after former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was criticized for using the same wording to describe the liberal attacks blaming her for the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz.
"Blood libel" is a phrase that originated in the Middle Ages, and it refers to the false claims that Jews killed Christian babies and used their blood to perform Passover rituals.