Villalba and the Incredible Nazi Disappearing Tweet
Texas Rep Tweets, then deletes, Nazi comparison
By Richard Whittaker,
4:00PM, Thu. Oct. 15, 2015
Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, reminded everyone how bad Texas politics can get by implying that U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is a Nazi, then defending that position, then very quietly deleting the tweet.
Villalba's Twitter feed became the virtual embodiment of Godwin's Law ("As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1") in the wake of this week's Democratic debate.
He sent out a meme from "Sane Americans" making a three-leap jump from Sanders saying he's a Democratic Socialist, to stating that Nazis were Democratic Socialists, to saying the Americans died fighting Nazis during World War II. So, clearly, in the Villalbaverse, Sanders was sniping at Abe Simpson and the rest of the Flying Hellfish as they stormed Castle Wolfenstein in search of Henry Jones Sr.'s notebook.
So let's list the ways that this is incorrect.
1) Sanders is Jewish.
2) Members of his father's family were killed in the Holocaust.
3) Democratic Socialists are not, nor have they ever been, Nazis.
The first two are just insulting. The third one has always been the tough one for contemporary conservatives to grasp, having previously equated everyone, from Democrats to environmentalists to feminists to gun control advocates to Stalinists to Maoists to Daoists to people that don't like plastic bags, to Nazis.
Unsurprisingly, Villalba's comments didn't sit well with a lot of people. Texas Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia savaged him for "a gross act of disrespect", adding that he "ought to be ashamed of himself for pandering to the Trump/Carson wing of his party." Progress Texas Executive Director Ed Espinoza noted the sheer chutzpah of the man, adding that "any politician with half a brain knows better than to make that type of accusation."
When celebrities are caught out in misguided Tweets, they usually either blame an intern or claim that they were hacked. Instead, Villalba doubled-down, spending much of yesterday getting into Twitter feuds with people telling him that his low-blow politics had reached new unconscionable lows.
Seemingly realizing that this was a terrible strategy, the Dallas rep started giving waffling answers to anyone that would listen saying that he wasn't calling Sanders a Nazi, but socialists are still bad (m'kay). However, now Villalba's camp has turned to an even worse back-up plan: pretend the Tweet never existed by deleting it. Yes, both the Tweet and the picture have gone, and his feed is now a succession of silly pictures of donuts, turtles, and Pete Sessions (please read into this whatever Freudian subtext you please).
Yet this is a bigger problem for conservatives than just one foolish Tweet. When it comes to calling Sanders a Nazi, Villalba isn't an outlier, and his tweet was not a new, unconscionable low. Two leading right-wing online publications, American Thinker and the National Review, have also made the fallacious claim that Democratic Socialist equals National Socialist.
So the two lessons every budding campaign operative can take away from this: One, if you're going to say something crazy, it's actually OK to apologize. Two, Twitter isn't Snapchat, as the screen grabs of his Tweet floating around the Internet and the firestorm of criticism that has rained down on his head, proves.