If there’s room for debate about whether the Tea Party is a populist movement worth taking seriously or a reactionary debasing of U.S. political discourse, on one matter there can be little argument: the obnoxious German history references have to stop. A conservative columnist compares Barack Obama’s Gulf oil spill reaction to Hitler’s approach—and Sarah Pallin applauds. A placard at a Tea Party rally shows Obama with Hitler—and also Lenin, just for good measure. TV rabble-rouser Glenn Beck makes the Hitler-Obama comparison routinely. And a Tea Party candidate in Alaska at least mixes up the German theme by citing the Berlin Wall, apparently favourably, as a model for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. All this and more distasteful stuff is pulled into context by the English-language website of Der Spiegel, where they know about the pitfalls of these grotesque misuses of vague historical notions.