The Anti-Defamation League has criticized Rob Reiner for his “inappropriate and offensive” remarks comparing Tea Party followers to Nazis.
The actor-director disparaged the ultra-conservative political movement in an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” on Friday night.
On the talk show, Reiner compared 1930s Germany’s “bad economic times” to what the U.S. is experiencing today, arguing that that kind of climate allowed for the rise of the Hitler.
“People were out of work, they needed jobs and a guy came along and rallied the troops,” Reiner said. “My fear is that the Tea Party gets a charismatic leader. Because all they’re selling is fear and anger, and that’s all Hitler sold. ‘I’m angry and I’m frightened and you should hate that guy over there.’ ”
After Maher responded, “Right,” Reiner added, “And that’s what they’re doing,” to applause from the Los Angeles studio audience.
In response, ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman issued a statement Monday, asking Reiner to “reconsider his words and take them back.”
“There is simply no comparison between followers of the Nazis, a fascist regime that perpetrated the slaughter of millions of Jews and others in the Holocaust, and followers of a democratic political movement in the United States,” Foxman said. “Such comparisons only serve to trivialize the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.”
Foxman also argued that Reiner’s comments could damage the U.S. political landscape, especially with the November elections coming up.
“Such Nazi analogies also demean the American political system in an election season when the rhetoric has already turned nasty and divisive,” Foxman added.