February 20, 2010

You remember Ken Blackwell, don’t you? He’s the guy who in 2004 served simultaneously as Ohio Secretary of State and co-chair of the Committee to Re-Elect George W. Bush. He used, and abused, his office to help the Bush campaign – including rejecting voter registration forms that weren’t on 80-pound paper stock.

Anyway, he must have been prepping for CPAC when he wrote his latest op-ed on FoxNews.com. Here’s what he said about the Obama administration:

What we are witnessing right now is an anti-Christian programmatic pogrom. What is a “pogrom” it’s the word that describes anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what is happening right now. These are not isolated attacks. And while we no longer have Cossacks to threaten, we now have left-wing bloggers who actually call themselves Kossacks (after the Daily Kos).

A “pogrom,” let’s recall, is “an organized massacre of helpless people; specifically: such a massacre of Jews.” And Blackwell, who most recently served as the vice chair of the RNC Platform Committee, contends that President Obama’s nominees would be leaders of this “pogrom” if confirmed.

He said this about Dawn Johnsen, who was nominated a year ago to lead the Office of Legal Counsel: “If she is confirmed, we will see a radical anti-Catholic, pro-abortion zealot influencing policy throughout the Justice Department—but also policy throughout the entire federal government.”

Johnsen, as it happens, is Christian and teaches Sunday School. She has prominent Republican supporters and a sterling record of commitment to the rule of law. But Blackwell thinks her confirmation is on par with the mass slaughter of Jews.

But he didn’t stop there. He also singled out Chai Feldblum, Obama’s pick to lead the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying that “if confirmed, she would be in position to pursue the pogrom nationwide.” As Ben Smith pointed out, Feldblum is a “Jewish law professor and disability rights scholar… whose father survived the Holocaust in the forests of Poland after losing most of his family.”

Feldblum is also a widely acclaimed academic and vigorous advocate for religious freedom. But that doesn’t matter to Blackwell, who isn’t really big on rational argument. As Rabbi David Saperstein wrote today, “Blackwell’s use of rhetoric invoking the pogroms, the widespread destruction of countless Jewish lives in Eastern Europe, is aimed at quashing reasoned political discourse,” and it “desecrates the memory of those who died in the pogroms.”

One thing is clear, Blackwell isn't trying to convince people – he’s trying to incite them. So will the RNC and Republican leaders denounce the remarks or just pretend not to notice? I think we all know the answer.


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