End Holocaust references in political campaigns

The Israeli government is considering outlawing what it considers inappropriate uses of the word "Nazi" and symbols of the Holocaust.

While we, like many protesting Israelis, could never support criminalizing speech, we would enthusiastically applaud a voluntary moratorium on Nazi analogies by political types in this country.

Nothing short of systematic genocidal violence or unprovoked armed aggression lives up to comparisons of Nazi Germany or Hitler's Third Reich. Using such references in routine political rhetoric is stupid and offensive. It discounts one of the most tragic episodes in modern human history. It also fuels resurgent anti-Semitism, in the opinion of many Israelis.

The latest dustup involves a comment state House Speaker Greg Stumbo made last week at a Prestonsburg rally for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Stumbo said having an alternative to a sixth term for Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is giving Kentuckians the same sense of elation that Allied troops must have felt when they liberated Europe during World War II.

The McConnell camp seized on the remark and tried to use it against Grimes.

McConnell's campaign manager Jesse Benton exhorted McConnell's supporters to sign a petition demanding Grimes disavow Stumbo's "disgusting attacks,'' which seems awfully self-righteous (or maybe just forgetful) considering that just last year Benton used the term "Gestapo kind of scare tactics" to describe the secret taping of a McConnell campaign strategy session.

A guy standing in the hallway of an office building using his phone to record McConnell's voice coming from behind a closed door is hardly the same as terrorizing a civilian population and arresting and summarily executing thousands of people, which is what the Gestapo did.

Most people would say Benton's remark registers higher than Stumbo's on the outrageous hyperbole meter. But rather than argue about whose Nazi reference is worse, we'd just like to see a truce, along with a resolution to forgo offensive analogies in the future and keep this important political campaign grounded in issues and reality.