HSR Opponent Equates Project to Holocaust
At today’s California High Speed Rail Authority board meeting, Kings County farmer and plaintiff in a lawsuit against the project John Tos equated the project to the Holocaust. Tim Sheehan of the Fresno Bee explains:
While Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny has yet to impose any legal remedy or court order to block the rail authority’s work, Tos told the rail board Tuesday that “for some reason, Gov. Brown and you on this board think you’re above the law, that big government is above the common folk like I am.”
“It reminds me of Hitler in the 1930s when he set out to annihilate the Jews and take over the world,” Tos added. “That’s what you folks are doing to the San Joaquin Valley. You’re going to annihilate, you’re going to destroy …”
That’s when board chairman Dan Richard, visibly agitated, interrupted Tos.
“Hold on a second,” Richard said. “You have a right to challenge and criticize our actions, to make recommendations and to tell us that our policies, our procedures, our decisions are wrong. It is our job to listen.
“But I will say to you, sir, that that last comment is inappropriate and unacceptable,” he added.
Tos was contrite after the scolding. “I accept that and I apologize,” Tos replied.
Tos apologized, but his incredibly offensive and appalling comment shows the true mentality of opponents of high speed rail. Rather than being focused on a positive debate to find the best way for HSR to work, opponents have dragged out all kinds of nasty slurs to try and delegitimize a project they personally hate even in spite of its many benefits.
Most of these claims are bad enough, like the ridiculous notion that a four-track rail corridor on the Peninsula would be like the Berlin Wall dividing communities, a stance that is offensive to the memory of the people who died trying to cross the actual Wall and the millions who lost freedoms and rights because of it.
But to claim that a government agency that is merely carrying out a transportation project that voters approved, similar to previous projects in the region like the California Aqueduct or Interstate 5, is just like Adolf Hitler trying to exterminate European Jews is a shock even to those of us who have become familiar with the overwrought and nonsensical claims of HSR opponents.
The fact that it came from one of the state’s highest profile HSR critics, rather than a random crank who showed up at a meeting, is also revealing. Is this the attitude of other HSR opponents? Do they all believe that the high speed rail project is the same as the premeditated genocide of 6 million Jews?
One hopes that this would be the beginning of a shift in tone from HSR critics and opponents toward a more constructive engagement with the project and its supporters. I doubt that will happen. We may not see them resort to such appalling comparisons again. But they will likely continue with the Tea Party tactics that have gotten them this far, despite not having much at all to show for it.