Hitler Analogies in the
New York Times

by Jennifer Green

December 10, 2005

for Prof. Marcuse's lecture course
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Holocaust

UC Santa Barbara, Fall 2005
(course homepage, web projects index page,
Megan's analogies paper)

Hoover, Kennedy, Clinton
About the Author
link to Megan's paper

Introduction (back to top)

Using Adolf Hitler as an analogy with different United States presidents is a notion that is not uncommon to see in different media sources such as television and newspapers. When I first started my research, I did not think that I would get nearly as many articles that compared Hitler and the presidents of the specific time eras I was searching. In fact I found analogies starting with President Hoover to our current U.S. President George W. Bush. The internet was most resourceful in my research, especially with the more contemporary presidents such as Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo allowed for broad searches that revealed new sources that I would have not otherwise considered in this project. However, the source I focused on for this project was the New York Times, which I accessed through the UCSB library. It allowed me to search all articles dating back to the year 1851. While going through all of the sources that contained analogies between US presidents and Hitler, I found that in many cases comparing the presidents with Adolf Hitler was an extreme statement that was used to greatly exaggerate the current situation. Furthermore, the inflationary use of this analogy takes away the legitimacy of what Adolf Hitler truly represented.

A problem I encountered while doing my research was finding the exact word combinations that would give me the most relevant articles for my project. As I stated, I used the internet for the majority of my research, including all of the articles I found in the New York Times database. The internet is an excellent resource; however in some cases it can be too broad and yield many misleading sources, which once further explored really did not help in the research process. I found it the most troublesome when I was trying to explore the most recent US presidents. The problem began with the Bush-Hitler analogy, because I received over 381,000 hits for these terms. However, most of these sites were of no relevance to the topic I wished to explore. I do account the massive number of hits due to the internet documents we have today that were not available with the other U.S. presidents I was exploring. The only other president that was close to the number of hits received by Bush was Clinton-Hitler analogy, being with about 100,000 fewer hits than Bush-Hitler. The reason for Clintonís popularity on the web is also due to the advancement in technology during his term, with him being a major benefactor in the internet revolution during his presidency. When searching the different search engines, I always used the word "president" with the respective name of who I was searching. For example, when searching I used the term "President Lyndon Johnson Hitler." I also included the word "analogy," but I found that by replacing the analogy with the "comparison," I was able to find many more sources relevant to my project.

Hoover, Kennedy and Clinton (back to top)

Even though I could not find articles comparing Hitler and President Hoover during his presidency, I did find articles that used the Hitler analogy when Hoover was the chairman of the American Famine Emergency Committee in 1946. In an article in the New York Times (June 23, 1946), Peter Orlov, a Moscow radio commentator, states that "Hitlerís friends were the Americans first" in which he is appalled by Hooverís call for American neutrality during World War II. This can be seen as an exaggeration of the current situation, because the reasons for Hoover calling for neutrality during the war are not because of the United States and Hitlerís friendship. It is also clear to say that the United States was not on friendly terms with the Nazis during World War II.

President Kennedy is considered one of the most beloved US presidents of all time. This may be in part due to the fact that his term in office was quite short and he really didnít have a substantial amount of time to get much of substance done. However this did not stop people from comparing Kennedy to Hitler, for this president was known more for his dedication to foreign affairs rather than domestic. The Chinese in particular did not favor Kennedy, as discussed in a New York Times article by a Chinese journalist (Sept 27, 1962), "that President Kennedy surpassed Hitler and Tojo in the savagery and tyranny. United States Imperialism is the sworn enemy of peace and the most ferocious enemy of people all over the world." Another attack on Kennedy was here in the United States, when Democrats became furious over the wanting of a recount by Republicans. The Democrats stated in a New York Times article that "the Republican demand for a recount is Hitler type propaganda." Well obviously this is a clear exaggeration compared to the propaganda that Hitler was using during his rise to power and during the whole Holocaust, and Kennedy entering the presidency did not have the same impact on the country as Hitler did on Germany.

Bill Clinton became famous around the world not for his politics but his social life. He brought questions of morality into the Oval office, and faced issues unlike any other president before him. However this issue did not stop people from criticizing how he ran the United States government. One example of this came from Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, who compared Clinton to Hitler "for proclaiming the Ironwood Forest Northwest of Tucson as a national monument." (Lazt 1) Statements like these are extreme analogies that make use of the term Hitler into something less striking. How can you really draw relevance between the two subjects from something so small in significance to what Hitler did in the Holocaust? Another example comes from the Jewish comic Jackie Mason, who stated "Clinton would just as easily kill as Hitler. He has no conscience." Mason made this statement that even if Clinton allows for one man to be killed or thousands it is still murder. This again is an extreme example in comparing both Hitler and Clinton. If saying that it only takes one murder to be compared to the millions murdered by Hitler, then there would be thousands of Hitlers walking around today, and this is a thought that would be unimaginable

Conclusion (back to top)

It is much easier for outside forces to compare United States presidents with Hitler when we are at war with another country, especially when that country needs something either from us or the country we are attacking. But no matter how you compare Hitler to various United States presidents including our current leader these analogies can only be seen as exaggerated comparisons. Even to compare the two takes away the horrific feat Hitler accomplished while he was dictator of Germany. Hitler convinced an entire country that a religion was a race of people who had to be exterminated for the good of Germany and the world. In the comparisons of Hitler to other U.S. presidents connections were made concerning everything from foreign policy to private life. One fact to take into consideration with my research is that I was only limited to one kind of valid source Ė The New York Times for information about presidents who were in office before the age of the Internet. Regarding the Bush and Clinton analogies, I found a vast amount of information on the internet; however due to the lack of validity of many of the web sources, I had to be much more particular in how I selected relevant articles than I did with The New York Times. Many of these sites lacked validity due to lack of credible sources or sponsorship by a credible source. I stayed away from websites that lacked scholarly credibility, and I made sure I included sources from a variety of perspectives. Overall, the quality of the information I got from The New York Times was more valuable to my research than the quantity of information form Internet. It gave me valid primary sources, that I could compare and analysis that corresponded to the topic I was researching.

Sources (back to top)

The New York Times (selected articles in chronological order)
I found the New York Times database to be filled with an abundance of information. The database dates back to 1851 and covers all news articles up to present day. It allows research by keywords, dates and headlines. This is a recognized news source, however ideas and views of the individuals who write the articles can construe the truth to some extent since there are always going to be personal biases. Most of the articles did not have authors, which I attribute to either the time when the article was printed, or the database has not been updated enough to include the authors of the articles.

  1. "Roosevelt Death Encourages Nazis," Apr. 14, 1945 pg. 8
  2. "Hoover Soviet Target," June 23, 1946, pg. 4
  3. "Russian Vitriolic In Truman Attack," Sept 21, 1947, pg. 9
  4. "President Called ĎVery Little Maní," May 15, 1947, pg. 18
  5. "Izvestia Compares U.S. Aim to Hitlerís," March 15, 1947 pg. 4
  6. "US Reds Declare Truman Aggressor," June 29, 1950, pg. 18
  7. Wood, Lewis, "Truman Charges Use of The Big Lie For Political Gain, Sept 18, 1952, pg. 1
  8. "British Compare McCarthy, Hitler," March 5, 1954 pg. 8
  9. Wherweins, Austin, "Daley Sees Plot in Vote Recount," Dec. 2, 1960, pg. 17
  10. "Kennedy Reviled by Chinese Reds," Sept. 27, 1962, pg.6
  11. "Pravda Says GOP Offers a Program Like that of the Nazis," July 24, 1964, pg. 11
  12. Finney, John, "Miller Attacks Big Government," Oct 28, 1964
  13. Binder, David, "Tito Likens Policy of US to Hitlerís." May 11, 1965, pg. 5
  14. Schmemann, Serge, "Germans homage At Moscow Rites," May 6, 1985 pg.A7
  15. "Castro Criticizes Reagan As He Marks Bay of Pigs," Apr. 21, 1986
  • Lazt, Marty "The Hitler Analogy," Jewish News Of Greater Phoenix. Phoenix, AZ, June 30, 2000. vol. 52, iss. 43; pg. 8
    This article was used to compare President Clinton and Hitler, when Arizona Congressman John Shadegg became upset when the president proclaimed the Ironwood Forest of Tucson a national monument. This article was written as an opinion piece in reference to how excessive this comparison has become in our society. There are no historical facts involved in the piece, but it gives the reader a valuable insight, by showing the exaggeration of the comment.
  • Tugend, Tom "Controversial Jewish Comic Compares President to Hitler," Jewish Telegraphic Agency. New York: July 7, 1998. pg. 12
    This article was used to compare President Clinton to Hitler by Jewish comic Jackie Mason. He talks about how Clinton has no conscience and would kill as many people as he needs to get where he wants. The comic never states whether he was serious about the comic or was trying to make some sort of political point. However this comic tends to write outrageous things so it can be seen more as a device to get peopleís attention than to take political stand.
  • History News Network, www.hnn.us/articles
    This website was a very good resource for finding contemporary articles and documents relating Hitler to current situation. John Hopkins University sponsors this website, so I find it to be a credible academic source. This search engine tags any article that uses references to Hitler whether political, entertainment, or opinion pieces. The most useful part of the site is the section called "Hitler Watch" in which current documents associating any political figure with Hitler are posted. All political views can be represented on this site.

About the Author (back to top)

Jennifer Green is from a smallish town called Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Megan Gallagher is from a small town called Quincy in the Sierras. They were suitemates their first year at college and have remained friends since. Now seniors, both are graduating in spring 2006; Jenn as a Sociology major and History minor, and Megan as a double major in History and Sociology.

prepared for web by Harold Marcuse on12/15/05; last updated: 1/26/06
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