MATTHEWS, N.C. -- A state senator from Matthews ignited a firestorm on twitter Sunday after he compared President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to acts committed by Nazis, Soviets, and terrorists.
The account of State Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican, tweeted, “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis, Soviets & terrorists combined” at 7:41 Sunday morning.
After a flurry of replies, he responded at 1:14 p.m., “Those that tweeted, put your thinking caps back on: ‘The PEN is mightier than the SWORD’,” adding, “But surely you knew that.”
The initial tweet had prompted 206 retweets as of Sunday night, and several responses.
Fellow Mecklenburg delegation lawmaker Rep. Tricia Cotham tweeted, “It’s often wise to think before your tweet.”
Twitter user @Atnor replied, “When will politicians learn Nazi and terrorist comparisons are simply no-win; this just makes u look foolish.”
And artist @laurelgreen tweeted, “Do ppl still not understand that whoever brings up Nazis first loses ANY argument?”
Calls, e-mails, and tweets to Rucho asking for clarification, or confirming that he had tweeted the message, were not returned. No one was home at his house Sunday afternoon when a reporter knocked on his door.
Rabbi Judy Schindler of Temple Beth El reacted strongly to Rucho’s comment.
“Comparing the murder of 11 million human beings -- among them 6 million Jews -- among them, 1.5 million children… to an affordable healthcare act--” she said, “comparing those two things is offensive.”
Schindler said she had spoken to Auschwitz death camp survivor and UNCC lecturer Susan Cernyak-Spatz before responding to Rucho’s comments. She passed along Cernyak-Spatz’s reaction.
“They are offensive, abhorrent, and irresponsible,” she said.
Catawba College Provost and political science professor Dr. Michael Bitzer first responded to Rucho’s tweet with a thought of his own: “Thinking history lessons might be in order for some…” and called Rucho’s comment “reprehensible.”
Dr. Bitzer is a frequent contributor to Charlotte-area political forums, and provides analysis to members of the media, including NBC Charlotte, for local elections.
Sunday night, Bitzer explained his response to Rucho’s comments.
“You're opening up a very delicate subject when it comes to the mass slaughter of anywhere from 7 to 8 million members of the Jewish faith,” he said. “Any use or reference to what most all historians would acknowledge was a horrific period in world history has to be done with very careful thought.”
He noted that the responses to the remark on twitter have been nearly “universal condemnation,” and it would be hard for a politician to recover from such a comment without a quick apology.
“It's just a snowball effect, and the longer they delay acknowledging or apologizing for it, it only gets worse for them,” he said.
Bitzer said Rucho needs to “acknowledge the fact that he misspoke and used a TERRIBLE comparison between probably the most horrific events in the 20th century, and now into the 21st century, to try an attack a public policy.”
But Sunday night, Rucho’s only tweet praised the Panthers.
“Another great day in the Carolinas,” he wrote at 7:12 p.m. “The Panthers win in the land of life, liberty and where all can pursue their dream of happiness. Period.”