Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Day 17 - I know you are, but what am I?

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Although I may not share the outrage that some have about politicians who call other politicians "Hitler," let me say that I'm tired of it.Several candidates have used Nazi imagery to describe their outrage at Conservative government policies. YouTube is full of home-made videos likening Harper and his government to Hitler and his team of thugs and terrorists. I guess the theory is that if you want to really express concern about a right-wing politician, the term Hitler is the best way to make your point. In that sense, the argument is that Hitler has become like Kleenex, Cher or Orwell, it's an iconic, single-word reference that over the years has worked its way into the fabric of our culture. The problem is, only one of those iconic names refers to a mass murderer, and I guess that's why people have no sense of humour about it.I do know some people in politics who believe it is the worst possible thing anyone could call them. In fact, Premier Gary Doer was incensed a few years ago when a Free Press editorial cartoon about the smokiing ban portrayed him as a goose-stepping Nazi. I heard quite a bit from the NDP about that one, and despite the fact I will always defend the right of editorial cartoonists to speak/draw their minds, I agree that it was not an appropriate image.In this campaign, we've heard quite a few politicians sling the H-bomb at their opponents, in particular at Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I don't find these slurs to be offensive, per se. I think they are a bit extreme. Most of all, I find it a sign of political immaturity. It's the kind of mud slinging that most often comes from someone with absolutely no chance of getting elected.Smart politicians know the difference between dictator (okay) and Hitler (not okay). And I doubt that anyone is ever going to get elected by tossing the H-bomb around. For those who actually believe participating in electoral democracy is a good thing (small group, getting smaller at the time) it might be good to figure out another way of expressing your outrage.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.

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