Richard Cohen: out of his pro-tax mind

Richard Cohen's mind can't handle abstract associations. It simply doesn't have the ability. His rant in the Washington Post on a remark by GOP activist Gilbert Norquist on NPR supposedly "comparing" the estate tax to the Holocaust is off by a mile.

This remark, so bizarre and tasteless that I felt it deserved checking, sent me to the transcript of the show, where, sure enough, it was confirmed. In it Norquist referred to the supposedly specious argument that the estate tax was worth keeping because it really affected only "2 percent of Americans." He went on: "I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust. 'Well, it's only a small percentage,' you know. I mean, it's not you. It's somebody else."

From the transcript, it seems that Gross couldn't believe her ears. "Excuse me," she interjected. "Excuse me one second. Did you just . . . compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?"

Somebody juice up the defibrillator! She's about to go into V-Tach.

Norquist explained himself. "No, the morality that says it's okay to do something to a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says the Holocaust is okay because they didn't target everybody, just a small percentage."

But Cohen is not happy with this explanation.

To my mind, the Holocaust should be compared only to itself. I make some allowance for, say, Rwanda or the massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica or the gulag of Stalin's Soviet Union.

But you see Richard, he's not comparing different massacres. I would expect someone in your position to grasp a simple concept and be able to delineate how things are alike and how they differ.

It's clear from the quotes provided by Cohen himself that Norquist was not equating the holocaust with the Estate Tax. He was instead talking about the morality of justifying aggression based on the premise that as long as the aggression only effects relatively small percentage of the population, there's no problem.

And he has a reasonable point - if it's wrong to steal from a poor person, why is it right to steal from a rich person? Do rich people have a lower moral status than the rest of us, simply because there are fewer of them? Of course, Cohen wouldn't be able to answer that question, because he's probably recovering in a hospital somewhere recovering from a mental fugue resulting from the shock and anguish resulting from a high-level association beyond his feeble comprehension.

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