Today, the Colorado General Assembly debated and gave initial passage to House Joint Resolution 14-1015, the annual resolution designating the last week of April as Holocaust Awareness Week. Each year, the debate over this resolution gives Republicans an opportunity to score rhetorical points on a variety of their favorite issues. Last year's memorable tag team on abortion from Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Scott Renfroe was a notable example.
This election year, CD-4 primary candidate Renfroe was muzzled, and Lundberg was a bit more subtle–though the abortion/Holocaust reference is still unmistakable:
LUNDBERG: And I ask all of us, are we still too conveniently numb? I see human life taken, that I believe is immoral and injust, am I too conveniently numb to speak out? [Pols emphasis] I pray that we will all re-evaluate our moral standards in each and every step we take…
Lundberg is known for a lot of things, folks, but failing to speak out about abortion is not one of them.
Not to be outdone, here's Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, making a not-so-subtle reference to the gun safety legislation passed in Colorado in 2013 as he invokes the Rwandan genocide of 1994:
CADMAN: 500,000 to a million people killed in 100 days. And they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Most of those people were killed with machetes, and knives, and sticks. It's not about what's in the hand, it's what's in the heart that matters. Isn't it? The weapon out here is irrelevant. The true weapon is in the soul. We can't legislate against that…
We'll give Cadman a "half-right" for noting that a large percentage of Rwandan Tutsis were killed with machetes and other crude weapons. But as ThinkProgress reported last fall about a similar Republican talking point, that's just not the whole story:
[The] claim that Rwanda was gun-free ignores history and shrugs off the thousands who were killed by firearms. [Pols emphasis] While machetes were the primary weapon used in the genocide, the government made a concerted effort to buy firearms and distribute them among elites. In the years leading up to the genocide, local officials ordered “quantities of arms and ammunition that far exceeded the needs of their local police forces…guns, Kalashnikovs, machine guns, grenades, and large quantities of ammunition.” While civilians were encouraged to use traditional machetes and spears, guns were the preferred weapon for mass killings. [Pols emphasis]
It seems that Sen. Cadman's talk point is a bit off the mark–why we generally recommend politicians stay away from self-serving tangents while memorializing the Holocaust.
Coming full circle from tragedy to farce, here's Rep. Janak Joshi's bizarre Holocaust resolution story:
JOSHI: I also had the opportunity to travel in Central Asia, and I was standing in a town called Merv in Turkmenistan. This town was the largest city in the 12th Century in the world, one of the biggest centers of business. Genghis Khan came and he completely destroyed this town and butchered over 80% of the population. And during his reign, 40 million people died in over a hundred years. To the point that even the global warming got better during those hundred years, because so many people were killed.
Where to begin? With Joshi's claim that Genghis Khan's reign lasted "over a hundred years" (in truth, about 20) or his remarkable admission that humans can indeed cause climate change? Don't get us wrong, that last one is actually true, but it's surprising to hear it from a Republican legislator.
It's just amazing the things you learn when Republicans talk about the Holocaust, isn't it?