GOP Lawmaker Refers To Jewish Democrat As “Air Nazi”

Senator Margaret Dayton (R - left), and Representative Patrice Arent (D - right)

Senator Margaret Dayton (R – left), and Representative Patrice Arent (D – right)

The debate over whether to make it illegal for adults to smoke in their cars when young children are present got pretty heated on Utah’s Capitol Hill this week. Though the bill ultimately passed, a debate on the Senate floor was so contentious, it included one Senator referring to a Jewish Representative as an “Air Nazi.”

Republican Senator Margaret Dayton (Orem), was incensed about HB13, sponsored by Democratic Representative Patrice Arent (Millcreek), who is Jewish, which makes it a secondary offense for adults to smoke in a car if a child under the age of 15 is present. During her arguments against the bill on the Senate floor, Dayton compared advocates of the legislation to “Air Nazis.”

It’s extremely unlikely that Senator Dayton was actually trying to compare Representative Arent to Hitler’s Nazis, but was rather using it as a more pop culture-style phrase, like referring to an English Major as a “Grammar Nazi.” But the disturbing moment is indicative of a trend of over-hype in today’s political discourse.

More and more in today’s world, especially in the national media, we are hearing politicians, pundits, protesters, and spokespeople compare things or people  they don’t like to Hitler, or the Nazis, or any number of serious tragedies or villains from history. The problem with this, of course, is that the person using the phrase is merely looking to score cheap political points, seeking to inflame the public by making a comparison to a true evil. The comparisons are rarely, if ever, valid, yet it’s all too commonplace for the tactic to succeed and fan the flames among the more whackadoodle elements of the public who don’t know better.

Millions upon millions of Jews, Allied Soldiers, and innocent people died under Hitler’s reign of terror. It’s a lesson for all of us to show some respect, and choose our words more carefully, rather than flinging about cheap rhetoric that dishonors the memory of so many slaughtered people.

It’s an insult to the intelligence of all listening Americans to do anything else.

8 comments for “GOP Lawmaker Refers To Jewish Democrat As “Air Nazi”

  1. Sheryl Hussein Ginsberg
    March 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Senator Dayton is about as classless a person as I’ve ever seen or heard. I think I will encourage not only the Jewish community, but all people of faith to contact Ms. Dayton and enlighten her about the hurt the use of that word towards a Jewish person causes.

  2. Amanda Thorderson
    March 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for this article, Eric. I appreciate your reminder to watch our words and be respectful. I’m disgusted by the use of the term and even more appalled that it was used in reference to a Jewish legislator. How classless.

  3. Elijah Gregory
    March 5, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Who is this bill really aimed at? It seems like it’s going to end up targeting the poorest people who could least afford a citation. I mean, smokers get taxed by Republicans and now Democrats it looks like.

    Of course, I’m not familiar with the proposed penalties for breaking this law, but I don’t see it as helping many children, raising much money for the state, and it does seem mean-spirited of Rep. Arent to propose.

    • Eric Ethington
      March 5, 2013 at 8:15 am

      @Elijah – I think you’re making much more of the bill than what it is in reality. The legislation is designed simply to encourage parents not to smoke in their cars with infants on board. It’s a secondary offense, which means an officer cannot pull you over for it. You would only be in trouble if they pulled you over for another reason, and then noticed you were also smoking with a baby in a car seat. In addition, the ticket is only $45, and even that can be completely waived if you agree to take a smoking cessation class.

  4. Zach Robinson
    March 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Wow, just wow. I didnt realize that our elected officials have resorted to name calling now. Maybe they should go to time out…

    Sad. This type of thinking still exists in our society.

  5. Peggy W. Davis
    March 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you Senator Margaret Dayton , for your LOW LIFE comment it’s shame that people like you represent our state of UTAH ! Shame on you !! I believe you owe Representative Patrice Arent an apology , how sick and hateful can a person be. Looks like you’re the poster child for the GOP … it really is going to help you at your next election … NOT !!!

  6. March 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Clearly, Senator Dayton has grown up in a sheltered existence, where utilizing such insensitive references must have been more commonplace and without reprimand (obviously, because people don’t just decide in their later years to use such a euphemism without it already being a habit….kind of like my Utah county junior high students saying the n* word like it’s nothing).
    My second thought is: why the heck would you debate such a law being passed? If it’s revenue they are fighting over–well great, you get some extra revenue for penalizing smokers. But it’s a MORAL issue above all….what is so wrong to try and combat the horrible effects of 2nd hand smoke on innocent children? They are the ones who suffer the most….

  7. marni
    March 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Yesterday I heard about this on the radio on my way to school. Today I noticed HOW MANY people compare the Nazis that killed over 11 million people to someone who is strict about a subject, i.e. grammar Nazi, rhythm Nazi, air Nazi… etc. I believe that this is not okay for everyday language. How can we even use this word in our everyday talk? The Nazis killed families, children, adults, newlyweds, just because they didn’t like their blood lines or the way they looked. Today we have changed the meaning of “Nazi” to mean something less than what it actually means. Please, All I ask is watch your language around EVERYONE, and think about what you say.

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