Response to My Colleague on 'Hitler' Argument

Dear Missouri State Rep. Holly Rehder,

Last week you issued a public statement to your constituents regarding Missouri Governor Nixon's stance on House Bill 253, which we may come up for an override on September 11.

You wrote,

"My degree is in Public Relations and one point that was hammered home throughout my study is that 'Perception Is Everything.' This tidbit has been proven for years, if you will remember propaganda served as an important tool to win over the majority of the German public during Adolf Hitler's rule."

I was extremely offended, as were many of my family, of your comparison of opposing policy views to the insanity of the Holocaust. Your comment was completely insensitive to those families throughout our state who have been forever altered by this horrific event in world history.

Your policy differences with our governor can be in no way comparable to the propaganda of Adolph Hitler.

There are many families in Missouri who include Holocaust survivors. My husband's grandmother, his father, uncle and two aunts barely escaped Nazi Germany. His grandmother (our daughter Sophie's namesake) lost her eight sisters and their extended families. One of the few remaining photos of her entire family are among the treasured photos displayed in our home and we do our best to keep their memories alive. I would be happy to share with you our personal family stories of survival and devastating loss. We would never show our surviving aunt, who is 91 years old, your remarks for fear of how it would personally cause her anguish. Such casual references to a man associated with unbelievable atrocities are a great insult.

I understand that you might be passionate about a particular policy and desire to influence others as to your particular views. But using Adolf Hitler's name to advance your viewpoint only incites and inflames. It does not persuade rational people.

Perhaps you were unaware that your statement was hurtful. I encourage you, as an elected official, in the future to be respectful and not lightly reference what to you may be a chapter in a history text book but to others, never-forgotten family horrors. I invite you, as does Jean Cavender, the director of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, for a personal tour to learn more about what happened during Adolph Hilter's reign of terror and how many Missouri families were impacted.

These analogies do nothing to advance your argument and are severely inappropriate. As your House colleague, I respectfully ask for your consideration in future debate.


Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman, 87th District