Sanders: Not a Nazi, Just a National Socialist
In “Adventures in National Socialism” (July 6), Kevin D. Williamson conflates Senator Bernie Sanders’s “democratic socialism” with National Socialism, the system of Adolf Hitler. It is disgraceful to use one of history’s most heinous genocides to push a political viewpoint. NR readers should also know that Nazism involved elite monopoly over corporate power, an imperial state, and nationalist, jingoistic fervor. It was not democratic, but it was also not socialist. The kind of social system that Sanders talks about involves improving working conditions and social services so that the benefits of globalization can be available to all people.
Sanders’s opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership has nothing to do with particular countries or races, as Williamson claims, nor does it involve an outright rejection of trade and globalization. Sanders believes that it’s possible to broker agreements that are good for all workers, American and foreign alike.
Williamson attacks Sanders’s character by alleging that the senator’s opposition to the TPP involves anti-Asian bias. When I worked in Sanders’s office, we welcomed a delegation of Japanese leaders whose concerns about the TPP mirrored Sanders’s own. In his long history opposing trade liberalization, Sanders has never uttered one word about foreigners’ stealing American jobs. He has spoken out against corporations that use trade and immigration policy to manipulate labor markets just to increase their profit margins.
Finally, Williamson’s stone-throwing at people who attend Sanders’s rallies is adolescent. He goes so far as to call one elderly woman “Grandma Stalin,” likening her to one of the deadliest dictators in world history. This loathing of everyday citizens suggests a distaste for American democracy itself.
New York City
Kevin D. Williamson responds: I refer you to the text of the article: “There are many kinds of Us-and-Them politics, and Bernie Sanders, to be sure, is not a national socialist in the mode of Alfred Rosenberg or Julius Streicher. He is a national socialist in the mode of Hugo Chávez. He isn’t driven by racial hatred; he’s driven by political hatred. And that’s bad enough.” There isn’t an intellectually honest way to get from “Bernie Sanders isn’t a Nazi, but a Chavista” to “Bernie Sanders is a Nazi.” Peddle your cheap fabrications elsewhere.
As for Senator Sanders’s xenophobic trade rhetoric: I’ve attended several of his speeches, and watched and read several more, and his go-to trade bogeymen are without exception poor brown people, mainly Mexicans and Chinese, sometimes Indians. Our $66 billion trade deficit with Germany in 2014 far exceeded our $53 billion deficit with Mexico and our $24 billion deficit with India, but Sanders insists that what ails us is competition from dusky people in sweaty locales rather than capital-intensive enterprises in high-wage countries.
He “has never uttered one word” about foreigners’ stealing jobs? How about: “I frankly do not believe we should be bringing in significant numbers of unskilled workers to compete with those kids,” as he described his views on MSNBC?
And Grandma Stalin was wearing a hammer-and-sickle T-shirt, for Pete’s sake. I assume a fellow wearing a Confederate-flag T-shirt in New York might be asked some pointed questions about the policies of Jefferson Davis et al.