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Deconstructing the Hitlerian Slur

 
 
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 06:56 am
"Little Eichmanns" and "Digital Brownshirts" Deconstructing the Hitlerian slur
National Review Online ^ | March 18, 2005 | Victor Davis Hanson

http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson200503180754.asp

One of their most hackneyed charges, begun almost at the beginning of this war, has been the Bush/America as Hitler/Nazi Germany comparison. True, fast-changing events in the Middle East recently have left many of these hypercritics either embarrassed, discredited - or desperately reinventing themselves into the "I told you so" crowd. But we should not forget these slurs - nor expect them to disappear entirely inasmuch as they reflect a deep sort of self-loathing among Western elites.

Immediately after September 11, Ward Churchill compared the victims in the Twin Tower to "little Eichmanns." Sen. Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.) more recently likened President George W. Bush's political methodology to what transpired in Nazi Germany. Earlier during the run-up to the Iraqi war, German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin smeared Bush with a similar Hitlerian analogy.

In fact, what do Linda Ronstadt, Harold Pinter, Scott Ritter, Ted Rall, and George Soros all have in common? The same thing that unites Fidel Castro, the European street, the Iranians, and North Koreans: an evocation of some aspects of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany to deprecate President Bush in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At first glance, all this wild rhetoric is preposterous. Hitler hijacked an elected government and turned it into a fascist tyranny. He destroyed European democracy. His minions persecuted Christians, gassed over six million Jews, and created an entire fascistic creed predicated on anti-Semitism and the myth of a superior Aryan race.

Whatever one thinks of Bush's Iraqi campaign, the president obtained congressional approval to invade and pledged $87 billion to rebuild the country. He freely weathered mass street demonstrations and a hostile global media, successfully defended his Afghan and Iraq reconstructions through a grueling campaign and three presidential debates, and won a national plebiscite on his tenure.

In a world that is almost uniformly opposed to the democratic Jewish state, Israel has no better friend than Bush, who in turn is a believer in, not a tormentor of, Christianity. Afghanistan and Iraq, with 50 million freed, have elected governments, not American proconsuls, and there is a movement in the Middle East toward greater democratization �- with no guarantee that such elected governments will not be anti-American. No president has been more adamantly against cloning, euthanasia, abortion, or anything that smacks of the use of science to predetermine super-genes or to do away with the elderly, feeble, or unborn.

So what gives with this crazy popular analogy �- one that on a typical Internet Google search of "Bush" + "Hitler" yields about 1,350,000 matches?

One explanation is simply the ignorance of the icons of our popular culture. A Linda Ronstadt, Garrison Keillor, or Harold Pinter knows nothing much of the encompassing evil of Hitler's regime, its execution of the mentally ill and disabled, the systematic cleansing of the non-Aryans from Europe, or mass executions and starvation of Soviet prisoners. Like Prince Harry parading around in his ridiculous Nazi costume, quarter-educated celebrities who have some talent for song or verse know only that name-dropping "Hitler" or his associates gets them some shock value that their pedestrian rants otherwise would not warrant.

Ignorance and arrogance are a lethal combination. Nowhere do we see that more clearly among writers and performers who pontificate as historians when they know nothing about history.

On occasion, those who are tainted, sometimes unfairly, with past charges of rightist extremism, find some psychic release in calling an American democratic president or his conduct Nazi-like. Thus, a German politician, who de facto unfortunately operates under the suspicions of the post-Nazi world, gains the moral high ground and moral fides by gratuitously deflecting attention to an American �- not as the descendant of the liberators of the Europe, but as the true inheritor of the German Hitlerian mantel.

George Soros can nearly destroy the Bank of England in his hyper-capitalist financial speculations but somehow find spiritual cover among the leftists of Moveon.org, which he subsidized and which ran ads comparing the president to Hitler. Sen. Byrd, who suffers from the odium of an early membership with the racist Ku Klux Klan, perhaps finds it ameliorative to associate others with the tactics of the 20th century's premier racist.

Entire continents can play this game. If Europe is awash in anti-Semitism, then one mechanism to either ignore or excuse it is to allege that the United States �- the one country that is the most hospitable to Jews �- is governed by a Hitler-like killer. Americans, who freed Europe from the Nazis, are supposed to recoil from such slander rather than cry shame on its promulgators, whose grandfathers either capitulated to the Nazis or collaborated �- or were Nazis themselves.

If the sick analogy to Hitler is intended to conjure up a mass murderer, then the 20th century's two greatest killers, Mao and Stalin, who slaughtered or starved somewhere around 80 million between them, are less regularly evoked. Perhaps that omission is because so many of the mass demonstrators, who bore placards of Bush's portrait defaced with Hitler's moustache, are overtly leftist and so often excuse extremist violence �- whether in present-day Cuba or Zimbabwe �- if it is decorated with the rhetoric of radical enforced equality.

The flood of the Hitler similes is also a sign of the extremism of the times. If there was an era when the extreme Right was more likely to slander a liberal as a communist than a leftist was to smear a conservative as a fascist, those days are long past. True, Bill Clinton brought the deductive haters out of the woodwork, but for all their cruel caricature, few compared him to a mass-murdering Mao or Stalin for his embrace of tax hikes and more government. "Slick Willie" was not quite "Adolf Hitler" or "Joseph Stalin."

But something has gone terribly wrong with a mainstream Left that tolerates a climate where the next logical slur easily devolves into Hitlerian invective. The problem is not just the usual excesses of pundits and celebrities (e.g., Jonathan Chait's embarrassing rant in the New Republic on why "I hate George W. Bush" or Garrison Keillor's infantile slurs about Bush's Republicans: "brown shirts in pinstripes"), but also supposedly responsible officials of the opposition such as former Sen. John Glenn, who said of the Bush agenda: "It's the old Hitler business."

Thus, if former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore breezily castigates Bush's Internet supporters as "digital brownshirts"; if current Democratic-party chairman Howard Dean says publicly, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for" �- or, "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good"; or if NAACP chairman Julian Bond screams of the Bush administration that "Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side," the bar of public dissent has so fallen that it is easy to descend a tad closer to the bottom to compare a horrific killer to an American president.

Is there a danger to all this? Plenty. The slander not only brings a president down to the level of an evil murderer, but �- as worried Jewish leaders have pointed out �- elevates the architect of genocide to the level of an American president. Do the ghosts of six million that were incinerated �- or, for that matter, the tens of millions who were killed to promote or stop Hitler's madness �- count for so little that they can be so promiscuously induced when one wishes to object to stopping the filibuster of senatorial nominations or to ignore the objection of Europeans in removing the fascistic Saddam Hussein?

There is something profoundly immoral for a latte-sipping, upscale Westerner of the postmodern age flippantly evoking Hitler when we think of the countless souls lost to the historical record who were systematically starved and gassed in the factories of death of the Third Reich.

Finally, in such a debased climate, it was no accident that Alfred A. Knopf published a novel, Checkpoint, about musing how to kill Bush. Nor was it odd to hear of a New York play, "I'm Gonna Kill the President," apparently centered around killing Bush. Late last year, a columnist in the Guardian, Charles Brooker, wrote to his British readers on the eve of the election :

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. �- where are you now that we need you?

All this venom is not so funny when we now witness a Saudi American young man, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, currently under indictment for allegedly planning just such a murder. After all, when it becomes a cheap and easy thing to compare a president to a century's great criminal, then it becomes even cheaper and easier to dream �- or plan �- to kill him.

At some point a Gore, Byrd, or Soros has a moral responsibility not to employ Nazi analogy, if for no other reason than to prevent unleashing even greater extremism by the unhinged. No doubt Abu Ali's lawyer one day soon will say that his disturbed client's "musings" were no different from what he read from Knopf or in the Guardian �- or that he simply fell under the influence of Moveon.org and thought it was his duty to remove the Bush/Nazi threat that even U.S. senators and presidential candidates had identified and warned about.

The final irony? The president who is most slandered as Hitler will probably prove to be the most zealous advocate of democratic government abroad, the staunchest friend of beleaguered Israel, and the greatest promoter of global individual freedom in our recent memory. In turn, too many of the Left who used to talk about idealism and morality have so often shown themselves mean-spirited, cynical, and without faith in the spiritual power of democracy.

What an eerie �- and depressing �- age we live in.

�- Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is victorhanson.com.
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rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 11:15 am
Gungasnake

Thanks for posting this penetrating article by Victor Davis Hanson, who IMO is a true intellectual even if he leans a little to the right. Since you declined to comment, what is your take on what he said?
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gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 02:09 pm
rayban1 wrote:
Gungasnake

Thanks for posting this penetrating article by Victor Davis Hanson, who IMO is a true intellectual even if he leans a little to the right. Since you declined to comment, what is your take on what he said?


My take?

My take is that, basically, a country like France or Italy with a dozen political parties can afford to have one of them go rogue, but that a country like the US with only two parties cannot afford that.

The democrat party has to be destroyed and it has to be destroyed in a manner which does not leave us with just the republicans in a one-party system. Right now, the law positively prevents any third party from rising up to replace one of the two major parties; that has to change.

The following three changes should be implemented ASAP, either via laws or constitutional ammendments:

1. Runoff elections for all elected offices. Nobody should ever hold any office with less than 50% of the vote, and nobody should ever fear to vote his first choice, at least on a first ballot.

2. "None of the Above" should be a choice in every election, for every office. And, if "None of the Above" ever wins, then the other candidates for that office on the ballot should be barred for life from running for any public office, and the parties which sponsored them barred for running candidates for that particular office for the next twenty years. The penalty for running dead wood for political offices should be ferocious.

3. There has to be some sort of a totally believable way to eliminate the voting fraud which democrats have made their living on so regularly over the last 60 years. If worst came to worst and there was no other way to do this, I'd be happy to eliminate the secret ballot altogether. We don't live in Peyton Place or the company town anymore and in a litigeous age in which you can't fire or even refuse to hire people for being gay or overweight, firing for voting the wrong way would start a lawyers' feeding frenzy in the isolated case in which it happened.

There are a few other changes I'd like to see but those are the three most major.

I'd like to walk into a voting booth and have the choice be between republicans and libertarians, i.e. a legitimate left-centrist party and a legitimate laissez-faire capitalist party, and have finding a democrat sort of like trying to find a nazi in Germany in 1946. That would be the happy ending.
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rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 02:24 pm
Gungasnake

Interesting.......back later with my comment......ACC basketball is calling.
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gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 03:16 pm
rayban1 wrote:
Gungasnake

Interesting.......back later with my comment......ACC basketball is calling.


That's the one major sport I could never figure out at all. Trying to watch a ball low and a hoop high at the same time was too much like trying to play a piano with your hands too far apart...
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rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 04:03 pm
Yeah....I was never any good at it but the road to the final four is nevertheless exciting this time of year.
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rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 04:15 pm
Gungasnake wrote:

<Right now, the law positively prevents any third party from rising up to replace one of the two major parties; that has to change. >

I'm not familiar with that law........could you give me a reference to it?

I realize there are many factors which severely inhibit the successful creation of a major third party. One such factor is the current campaign finance mess.
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gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2005 04:40 pm
rayban1 wrote:
Gungasnake wrote:

<Right now, the law positively prevents any third party from rising up to replace one of the two major parties; that has to change. >

I'm not familiar with that law........could you give me a reference to it?



It's basically a sin of omission, i.e. not having runoff elections and the possibility of somebody like Slick Clinton becoming president with 43% of the vote.

That's the main obstacle. People are simply afraid to vote for third party candidates; the usual result of doing so is watching your last choice take office.
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Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Mar, 2005 10:17 am
I'll have to admit skipping the first post. Sorry gunga, but I'm not very interested in Warren Churchil or any other celebs.

I actualy agree with you that runoff elections would be a good idea in the US. At the end of the day I still prefer our proportional representation type of government, but I'd much prefer runoffs to the system practiced in the US at present.

The instant runoff system that was presented a while back looked pretty good, its only weakness that voters might not give as much thought to their second or third or maybe fifth choice in such a system as in a runoff system.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Mar, 2005 11:39 am
There actually is at least one good web site devoted to alternative voting methods. Our present system is broken in several ways and needs fixing.



http://electionmethods.org/index.htm
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