The National Jewish Democratic Council urged presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) to repudiate the Holocaust reference made by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), in which he invoked Martin Neimöller’s famous poem First They Came… to shield Romney from attacks surrounding Bain Capital. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
It is absolutely unfathomable that Governor Rick Scott-who leads the state with the third largest population of Jews-would invoke the Holocaust to shield Mitt Romney from criticism over his record at Bain Capital. As we have said before, it is never acceptable to invoke the Holocaust to make a political point. This display of insensitivity towards the legacy of the Holocaust-and using Martin Neimoller’s powerful words-is just the latest example of a Republican official abusing the memory of the Holocaust and inappropriately inserting this rhetoric into civic discourse. All who understand and respect the sanctity of the memory of the Holocaust must condemn Scott’s tactless remark, and especially Mitt Romney, for whom Scott was stumping. Romney must make it clear that this sort of language will not be tolerated on the campaign trail. Failure to do so will make him the latest Republican to betray American Jews and the memory of those who perished by giving a free pass to this unacceptable use of this language.
The governor paraphrased a famous saying by Martin Niemoller, a German Protestant pastor….
‘We shouldn’t be allowing candidates to attack people in business,’ he said. ‘We should be saying, gosh, that’s us.’
Scott then paraphrased the Niemoller saying, which he has on a plaque in his office.
‘We’ve got to defend the freedom of the free market,’ he said after paraphrasing the quote. ‘If we don’t defend the free market, they’ll pick on somebody. Now they’re picking on Bain Capital, then they’ll pick on somebody else.’
Bain Capital is the private equity firm founded by Romney.
Scott later told reporters he used the Niemoller quote to say that capitalism should always be defended.
‘I have the quote in my office, and the reason is I have it is, we all have to think about watch(ing) what’s going on out there,’ Scott said.
‘Look at what’s happening in our society,’ he added. ‘I believe the free market is good for families. And I believe we should defend the free market. When you see somebody being attacked because they believe in the American Dream, we need to go out and say, gosh I would like to live the American Dream. All of us would like to live that American Dream.’
Press secretary Lane Wright further clarified the governor’s remarks.
‘He’s making a point, not an exact comparison,’ Wright said. ‘The quote illustrates a principle: Stand up for what’s right. If you don’t, no one else will. It would be reading too much into it to think he is comparing to the Holocaust.’
Or, in other words, ‘If you’re attacking capitalism, who’s next?’ Wright said.