Earlier this week, Tim Allen unleashed an increasingly familiar anguished grunt by likening being a conservative in Hollywood—a place that continues churning out episodes of Last Man Standing for an adoring fan base of dads softly farting in their sleep—to living in 1930s Germany. It’s a statement that’s garnered Allen a lot of unexpected penance that, unfortunately, cannot be reduced by blaming it on 20 other people.
Like much of the dialogue on his show, his “’30s Germany” quip was a joke, but not really: Allen’s intimation to Jimmy Kimmel that “you get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody else believes” was clearly a tongue-in-cheek exaggeration, but it still reflected a sentiment the actor had often expressed over the years about feeling “bullied” by show business liberals. It’s a lament shared by the other members of Hollywood’s “conservative underground,” who must live in constant fear of being “excommunicated from the church of tolerance” in between starring in TV shows and directing Academy Award-nominated movies. Yes, in a dark age when being openly hostile to immigrants and the indigent gets you, at most, a gently used, mid-grade nation to run, these faithful must now congregate in secret and live in fear of practicing their ideology openly. Just like Jews in Germany, only instead of being herded onto trains and sent to labor camps to toil, starve, and die, they don’t always feel comfortable at parties.
It’s not a perfect analogy—“Boy, it’s like Nazi Germany up in here!” so rarely is, particularly when lamenting one’s inability to support leaders cheered by literal Nazis. Therefore, according to those Nazis at the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, Allen’s simile must be exterminated. The American-based arm of the global SS for being nice to one another has demanded Allen apologize to “the Jewish people and, to be sure, the other peoples also targeted by the Nazis” for comparing their deaths and suffering to that of actors who only get their own long-running sitcoms, at most, once per decade. Wow, so much for the “tolerant” left.
“Tim, have you lost your mind?” asked the center’s executive director Steven Goldstein in a statement. “No one in Hollywood today is subjecting you or anyone else to what the Nazis imposed on Jews in the 1930s—the world’s most evil program of dehumanization, imprisonment and mass brutality, implemented by an entire national government, as the prelude for the genocide of nearly an entire people. Sorry, Tim, that’s just not the same as getting turned down for a movie role.”
The statement—a veritable Kristallnacht of pointing out a logical fallacy—is available to read in full on the center’s Facebook page, along with various comments saying that, by telling Tim Allen that he’s being “deeply offensive” by comparing mild criticism to mass genocide, the Anne Frank Center is “proving his point.” Which, again, is that not being able to make glib comparisons to the Holocaust is just like the Holocaust.
Of course, these people also have a point: The words “Nazi” and “Hitler” tend to get thrown around a lot these days, all because we happen to be governed by an authoritarian populist demagogue who rose to power on a platform of victimization and persecution, while courting a support base that openly preaches white nationalism—and also, sometimes celebrities feel like they can’t just say they’re cool with that, so long as it protects their Toy Story royalties. So perhaps we should all just stop using “1930s Germany” as our go-to comparison, and let’s agree that this current miasma of fear, roiling hatred, and impending doom feels totally fresh and new.