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From an October 2 interview by Terry Gross, host of the National Public Radio program Fresh Air. Grover Norquist is the president of Americans far Tax Reform and a principal architect of President Bush’s tax plan.

terry gross: Okay, the estate tax is only paid by somebody who gets over $2 million in inheritance. I mean, you’re talking about $2 million. That’s a line people don’t cross a lot.

grover norquist: The argument that some who play at the politics of hate and envy and class division will say, “Yes, well, that’s only 2 percent of Americans.” I mean, that’s the morality of the Holocaust. “Well, it’s only a small percentage,” you know. I mean, it’s not you. It’s somebody else.

gross: Excuse me. Excuse me one second. Did you just—

norquist: Yeah?

gross: —compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?

norquist: No, the morality that says it’s okay to do something to a group because they’re a small percentage of the population is the morality that says the Holocaust is okay because they didn’t target everybody, just a small percentage. What are you worried about? It’s not you. It’s them. And arguing that it’s okay to loot some group because it’s them, or kill some group because it’s them, and because it’s a small number—that has no place in a democratic society.

I think it’s immoral to separate the society. When South Africa divided people by race, that was wrong. When East Germany divided them by income and class, that was wrong. Dividing people so that you can mug them one at a time is a bad thing to do. Whether you’re doing it on racial grounds, religious grounds, or whether-you-work-on-Saturdays-or-not grounds—on economic grounds.

gross: So you see taxes as terrible discrimination against the wealthy comparable to the discrimination of, say, the Holocaust?

norquist: Well, you can use different rhetoric or different points for different purposes, and I would argue that those who say, “I’m only doing it to a small percentage of the population”—that’s immoral. They shouldn’t be shooting anyone, and they shouldn’t be taking half of anybody’s income or wealth when they die.

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January 2004

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