It seems I can’t open a paper or click on a news link containing an anti-Bush commentary these days without seeing, usually in the first few paragraphs, an equation of the President or Republicans in general with Hilter and Nazi Germany. My take on it? It’s a sign of weak argumentation and a reliance on knee-jerk shock value in place of rational discussion and factual discourse. There seems to be 2 methods used these days to make these analogies, either make a wide, sweeping equative statement or focus in on specific methodology.
The wide statements are the preferred tactic of the MoveOn.org crowd. Hence, the Bush=Hilter ads they served up on their site and the near-constant references there to how the Administration is fascist and turning America into a totalitarian state. Such comments are ludicrous and so clearly false, they’d normally not even warrant refutation, but for the fact that so many of our fellow citizens appear to buy the line. Anyone who thinks America is a totalitarian state clearly doesn’t know what a totalitarian state is. Ask the actual survivors of Nazi Germany, or former residents of the Soviet Union what it’s like. Listen to Arthur Chrenkoff, whose family managed to get out of Soviet-controlled Poland before the wall fell. Arnold Schwarzenegger told about his experiences living behind the Iron Curtain and living with Soviet tanks on the streets and the real fear of being stopped on the street to be taken away never to be seen again. That’s what a totalitarian state is like. How many of those people who blithely claim that this is what America is coming to see tanks in the streets? See armed patrols stopping pedestrians for questioning? Which of their families or friends have been seized by the government and disappeared? I have a co-worker whose grandfather, still with us, was in Nazi Germany and managed to get out. He tells me that the old guy nearly throws things at the TV when he hears someone suggest that this country is the new Reich. He knows better.
The other tactic I see used is to isolate something the Administration is doing and find an instance where someone in the Nazi government did something similar. Then they make the assertion, sometimes even unspoken but clearly implied, that since the Bush Administration is using the same method – in that one instance – as the Nazis, well that means “BushCo” is clearly the fascist buggers the Left’s been claiming they were all along. Again, weak. Every government on earth uses radio, even the real totalitarian ones. Does the fact that the President makes a weekly radio address mean that he and his administration is fascist/communist/whatever-ist? I note that Kim Jong Il makes TV appearances – just like MoveOn.org! Does this mean that MoveOn is a group of people who will cheerfully starve millions of their countrymen? Ridiculous.
Given a similar goal in a similar environment, with similar raw materials available, you’ll find that the solution reached by different groups will be remarkably similar. From sailing vessels to jet aircraft to spaceships you can see different countries and cultures wind up with end results that resemble each other. That the Nazis used similar methods, to get their word out, for example, as our Administration does today is no indictment of the Administration’s broader policies. To use such isolated examples as those to say that the American government is fascist or totalitarian is simply stretching a point beyond believability. Yet, it gets done daily and people still buy it.
Victor Davis Hanson addresses the issue in an article yesterday, “Little Eichmanns” and “Digital Brownshirts”: Deconstructing the Hitlerian slur.
|::::::::||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.
The statement has been made that the problem with political discourse these days is that while the Right thinks the Left is dead wrong, the Left thinks the Right is pure evil. (The statement’s been made specifically referring to Republicans and Democrats, but I think the issue is wider than those 2 parties.) The Right’s viewpoint requires facts, proof, debate, and argumentation. The Left’s requires none of those things. It merely requires a firm belief – dare I call it “faith”? – that the Right’s views are so patently, obviously wrong that there’s no requirement to even argue the points. After the 2004 elections, it wasn’t even a week before many on the Left were calling on the winners of the elections to drop their partisanship and reach out to those who were on the losing side of the contest. They asked (in some cases, demanded) that their views be enacted in the various legislative endeavors, not just considered. That’s difficult to do when the Left’s partisanship is still in full swing and their lack of consideration of the Right’s viewpoints is nearly automatic. The first thing that needs to happen is for the Left to knock off the cheap shots and drop the Nazi rhetoric. No one’s comparing them to Stalin or Pol Pot even though those cases could certainly be made using the same logic as they use. The reason for that is simple: you don’t foster dialog and compromise with name-calling.