Of course, non-Jews on the left also compare conservatives to Nazis, and some non-Jews on the right will sometimes compare the left to Nazis, but there are three important differences.
First, however many or few tea-party banners compare President Obama to Hitler (and such comparisons are as reprehensible as they are self-defeating), conservative public figures – such as politicians and prominent columnists – almost never compare liberals to Nazis, while public figures on the left often compare conservatives to Nazis.
Second, among liberal Jews, the percentage that believes that Americans on the right are just a step or two away from being Nazis seems to be greater than the proportion of liberal non-Jews who believe that.
Third, when Jews on the left call conservative Americans Nazis, they mean it in its literal sense – they really do regard the conservatives they compare to Nazis as racists comparable to Nazi anti-Semites. On the other hand, when conservatives use the term, it is meant to signify non-democratic or dictatorial policies, regimes or individuals – e.g., Seinfeld's "soup Nazi" or Rush Limbaugh's "feminazis" – not as potential or likely mass murderers.
Leftist rhetoric routinely depicts opponents of the left in extreme terms. Opponents of race-based affirmative action are racists. Opponents of same-sex marriage are homophobes. Opponents of illegal immigration are xenophobes, racists and engaged in Nazism (that is the word that Cardinal Roger Mahony used to describe Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law.) And so on.
When liberal Jewish columnist Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote recently that tea partiers had engaged a "small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht," he meant it...
Why would a New York Times columnist use the term when talking about American tea partiers?
Because when Rich and most other Jews on the left see right-wing non-Jews, they see swastikas.
And this past September, Grayson, referring to Congress not having passed health-care legislation, said on the floor of the House, "I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this Holocaust in America." In Grayson's view, 12 percent of Americans not having health insurance constitutes a "Holocaust."