The DMV Is Not Like Concentration Camps And Other Statements Self-Evident To Everyone But Morons
Mike Godwin himself has relaxed his famous Godwin's Law regarding comparing things you don't like to Hitler because we live in Nazi-adjacent times where white supremacists roam free. So, yes, you should note the similarities in Donald Trump's "othering" of his enemies in the press and the brown skin. By all means point out that kiddie jails have less in common with the camps where children play than they do with the ones where Hitler sent people to die horribly. But whatever you do, don't compare the quotidian annoyance of standing in line at the DMV to the systematic extinction of millions of human beings.
Centuries from now, when they teach history at one of the Space Force settlements on Uranus, they will discuss the failed candidacy of John Cox, the Republican candidate for governor of California. He was already polling double digits behind Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, but that was before he visited the Sacramento DMV.
In audio at the event recorded by CapRadio, Cox can be heard introducing himself to a woman at the Sacramento DMV office.
"How long have you been waiting," he asks the woman, who responds "close to an hour."
Cox then relays a story of a conversation with a man he met at a DMV in Southern California:
"You know, I met a Holocaust survivor in Long Beach. He survived concentration camps, and he said this was worse. He's 90 years old and he had to wait four hours down in Long Beach. Can you imagine that?" Cox says.
My imagination's pretty good, Mr. Cox. Right now, I'm imagining how you decided to go with this absurdly insulting comparison. Are your campaign advisers a "Goofus" and a "Gallant"? Gallant suggested just saying something like, "I'm sorry you've had to wait so long. We're going to fix this by turning it over to the private sector where there's more choice and competition." Goofus, though, insisted the crotchety Holocaust survivor's complaint was gold.
Also: Is "close to an hour" really that long a wait? People in Portland spend more time in line for brunch, and they just wind up paying $20 for eggs and coffee. A driver's license enables you to hold down a job and function in a country that mostly refuses to invest in reliable public transit.
Cox's spokesman Matt Shupe tried to clean up this mess but he also listened to Goofus and somehow made it worse.
"John isn't saying it was worse than the Holocaust. The guy didn't say it was worse than the Holocaust," Shupe said. "He was saying that it reminded him of pre-war Germany" when Jews had to wait in lines to be processed."
Sweet Christ! Let's all agree that the larger problem with pre-war Nazi Germany wasn't that the lines were too long. Jews weren't getting complicated coffee beverages at the end of these lines. Frankly, if you're queued up in a line that ends in Auschwitz and not Space Mountain, and it's likely the last time you see your family, you'd probably prefer if it took a while.
The campaign provided audio of Cox, which aired on Los Angeles radio station KFI earlier this week, when Cox recounted the same conversation in a different way.
"I met a guy who survived the Holocaust. 90 years old. And he tells me that this reminds him of what it was like in pre-war Germany and Latvia," Cox said in that audio.
A little louder for the insensitive morons in the back: The California DMV is in no way like pre-war Germany or Latvia. I don't know who Cox spoke to but most firsthand accounts of the experience are clear on this point.
Before long, Vestermanis found himself living in the city's Jewish ghetto. He learned to wear the Star of David and walk in the gutter, as Jews were required to do. He became a "Wäiglstäisser," (wagon pusher) then a pushcart driver, and was finally sent to the Nazi concentration camp in Kaiserwald. His parents, his sister and his brother were executed by the firing squads of the SS and their Latvian lackeys in the pine and birch forests of Rumbula. Vestermanis himself experienced the end of the war as a partisan fighter, near the Latvian SS camp at Dondangen.
Gallant cut short his previously scheduled vacation and finally got through to Cox, who now promises to not use his "wacky Holocaust survivor" story anymore.
Cox spokesperson Matt Shupe told TPM Thursday that while it was an "honest mistake" when Cox said Wednesday that DMV lines were "worse" than concentration camps, the candidate would find a better way to highlight Californian's frustrations with the agency.
When asked why Cox used the story to compare two vastly different sets of circumstances, Shupe said it was, in part, simply the "novelty factor" of meeting a Holocaust survivor.
"John likes to tell stories of people … and when he told me this, I was amazed that he met a Holocaust survivor, there's not many who are still alive," he said.
Yeah, there are often not many survivors of a "Holocaust." That's kind of how such genocidal events roll. I'm not sure he comprehends what the Holocaust in fact was and is just impressed that he met a really old person. "When he graduated high school, there was still no TV, no social media! It's crazy!"
Newsom will decisively beat Cox in November to succeed current governor Jerry Brown. The last Republican governor of California was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who at least knew that the Holocaust was more than just a mild inconvenience.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."