Ben Carson's comments insult humanity
© Greg Nash

With his comments comparing the Obama administration to Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime, Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump administration to make it easier for adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples: report READ: Ben Carson's letter clarifying testimony on protections for homeless transgender people Exclusive: Carson seeks to clean up testimony on protections for homeless transgender people MORE, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has offended not just Jews worldwide, but all of humanity. His comments are so morally repulsive and historically ignorant that it is difficult to believe that any American would back Carson for president. Yet some polls show that his support among Republicans exceeds 10 percent. Perhaps these folks are just unaware of what Carson has said and said again.

In a speech last year, Carson said that under the Obama administration, the U.S. "is living in a Gestapo age." When asked to explain himself rather than backing off this comment, Carson took a step deeper into the quagmire, saying that America has become "very much like Nazi Germany." For good measure he added, "I know you're not supposed to say Nazi Germany, but I don't care about political correctness."

Such remarks have nothing to do with political correctness. They have everything to do with one's moral vision and historical awareness. There is a good reason why you don't compare your political opponents to Hitler's Nazis. Hitler presided over arguably the most barbaric, bloodthirsty regime in human history. Many hundreds of fine books describe the horrors of the Nazi regime. Carson ought to consult at least one of them.

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For no reason other than its lust for conquest, Nazi Germany started what is by far the deadliest war in world history. World War II ultimately claimed more than 60 million lives; one out of every 30 persons living on the planet perished in the war. Far more victims were innocent civilians, rather than military combatants.

In its mass murder of 6 million Jews, the Nazis perpetrated a genocide unique in its scope and objectives. The Nazis hunted down and slaughtered Jews not just in Germany, but in every land under German control or influence. Their goal was to wipe out the biological substance of the Jewish people. Otto Ohlendorf, the head of a German killing unit that murdered approximately 110,000 Jews, would later say that the Nazis targeted Jewish women and children, as well as men, to insure the total extermination of the Jewish population.

The Nazis constructed the world's only industrial killing factories. They not only slaughtered thousands of persons per day in the death camps, but also tortured, beat and starved inmates and conducted horrific medical experiments on their bodies. The Gestapo and other Nazis hunted down for slaughter not just Jews but also Gypsies (Roma), gays and anyone considered an enemy of the Third Reich.

Even before they opened the death camps, the Nazi began the mass murder of Jews. In September 1941, German police and their Ukrainian allies forced thousands of Jews to lie face down at the base of a ravine. The men shot each victim at the back of the head, per instructions. Then the executioners repeated the process, piling new batches of victims on top of the first. The commander frequently exhorted his men to speed up their work; they weren't killing the Jews quickly enough. The policemen, supplied with ammunition and rum, worked in shifts. They reported killing 33,771 Jews in the course of two days at the now infamous ravine called Babi Yar.

These are only some of the reasons why only the most morally warped and clueless individual could possibly compare his political opponents in the United States to Hitler and his Nazi butchers.

Carson is not the only prominent Republican to make scurrilous comments about President Obama. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said of Obama: "I do not believe that the president loves America."

Perhaps because of his greater prominence, Giuliani's comment stirred up much more controversy than Carson's far more offensive remarks. Giuliani, however, isn't running for president. Ben Carson presumably is — he has registered with the FEC to establish a presidential exploratory committee — but shouldn't be. Anyone even thinking about voting for him should first carefully check one's own moral compass.

Lichtman is distinguished professor of history at American University in Washington.