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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
October 2005

At Long Last, Sir, Have You No Shame?

Kilgore Abuses Holocaust Memory; Cantor Hypocritically Rises to his Defense

October 17, 2005

(NJDC) Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore is inappropriately using Holocaust rhetoric and imagery against his Democratic opponent, Virginia Lt. Gov. Timothy Kaine. And House GOP chief deputy whip Eric Cantor -- who has previously blasted references to the Holocaust in politics when it suited him -- is hypocritically rising to Kilgore's defense.

Saturday's Washington Post reported, "One day after the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, the Anti-Defamation League condemned Kilgore for using Holocaust imagery to advance his political agenda. Kilgore's ad accuses Democrat Timothy M. Kaine of not supporting the death penalty, even for Hitler, who died in his Berlin bunker in 1945. 'Such references are inappropriate and insensitive, and, as part of a discussion of the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia, trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust,' wrote David Friedman, a regional director for the group."

A Post editorial on Sunday termed Kilgore's ad a "contemptible assault" for suggesting that Kaine's pro bono work in death penalty cases somehow disqualifies him from serving as Virginia's Governor. Indeed, the Washington Post rightly notes that Kaine's service was honorable -- and that newly confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts' similar work elicited no such squawking from Kilgore or other Republicans.

As for Eric Cantor's hypocritical defense of Kilgore, the Post reports that "Kilgore also recruited U.S. Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), a member of the House leadership who is Jewish, to counter the criticism. He said he was not offended by the use of Hitler's name."

Yet Cantor himself previously accused Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of trivializing the Holocaust for making a reference to it on the Senate floor. The Forward reported in March that Cantor said Senator Byrd "should be ashamed to invoke the name of Adolf Hitler in his partisan attacks" -- exactly what the ADL and the Washington Post have lambasted Jerry Kilgore for doing.

"It is the height of hypocrisy -- in fact, it is the very definition of hypocrisy -- for Eric Cantor to heap scorn on a Democrat for doing what he claims is nothing but appropriate when a Republican candidate like Jerry Kilgore does it," said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "As for Jerry Kilgore's utterly unacceptable advertising, the Washington Post and the ADL have it right. It is never suitable to invoke the memory of the Holocaust and the specter of Adolf Hitler in a political attack ad. Period."