Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Did it Become Okay to Throw Around Nazis?

I admit to not closely following the debate over health care in the US. Nonetheless, the following two videos struck a chord with me.


The debate about heath care aside, when did it become acceptable to compare anything you don't like to the Nazis, to Hitler or the Holocaust? Are we so far removed from world war two, or so ignorant of our history that feminists can be called "feminazis," artists can compare Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper to Hitler for cutting funding to cultural activities and then of course, a health care plan can somehow be equated with Nazism. Do feminists want to wage war on their neighbours? Is cutting to culture the same as unrestricted submarine warfare, or shooting unarmed POWs? Is a health care plan the same as an industrialized process of genocide?

Why has it become acceptable to make these connections? Only the Nazis were the Nazis. Only Hitler was Hitler and only the Holocaust was the Holocaust. Have there been other fascist or threatening political movements whose goal was world domination and the propagation of a master race. Yes. Have there been other ruthless dictators who have run their countries with brutality and reigned horror upon the people of the world. There sure have. Have their been other genocides. Lord knows there's one going on today.

Still, no other movement, leader or genocide rivaled the Nazis in terms of the scope of their evil, the fanaticism of their followers, the destruction they have wrought, the institutionalization and industrialization of their killing. Nobody and nothing has compared, before or since.

I don't even think Osama Bin Laden or Al Queda, for all their personification of evil can be correctly compared to Hitler or the Nazis. They are separate, yet equally evil spheres. On the other hand...Don't Hitler and Bin Laden both have moustaches?

I have often thought that comparisons to the Nazis, Hitler, the Holocaust, etc. are the second to last refuge of someone losing a debate. The last step would be a direct attack on the individual himself. A comparison to the evil of the second world war is simply a fallacious linkage of the opposing idea to something universally accepted as bad, therefore hoping to create some sort of guilt by association. As soon as someone in a debate compares his opponent or his ideas to Nazi's, I know the other guy has won.

Yes, there ought to be freedom of speech, but how has it become socially acceptable to make these insane comparisons? It is incumbent upon the leadership of the movement that opposes Obama and his health care plan to roundly and strongly condemn in the harshest of terms these offensive and fallacious comparisons.

Oh, and PS: if you want to start somewhere, apparently the woman who yelled at that Israeli guy in the first video, above, is on Facebook. Feel free to let her know what you think.


Ben C said...

Comparing anyone to Hitler is an affront and an insult to anyone who went through the Holocaust or who lost friends and family in it.
It also shows a total lack of understanding or knowledge of the period and people who were involved.

Mr. Gerson said...

You are generally right, however not only the Nazis were Nazis. So were their ideological descendants that have not gone away. Simply look from Hassan al-Banna to Haj Amin Al Husseini and his Bosnian Nazi Muslim's, to the Baath party in Iraq, Arafat, today's Palestinian movement and more.

The Nazis Jew hatred, specifically the Nazis Jew hatred, is alive and well.

Through the act of comparing everything under the sun to Nazis, people now have no idea what it means are rarely able to understand the true linkages between the Nazi era and today.

Charlie H. Ettinson said...

Mr. Gerson,

Thank you for the comment.

What upsets me most is the casual way calling someone a Nazi is bandied about.

Certainly there are modern heirs to the Nazis. Certainly white supremacists are Nazis, and certain leaders and groups in other parts of the world may express admiration for Nazis, but what I'm trying to express is that being a Nazi is one of the most vile things that can become of a person and even some of the worst scum walking our planet today, still aren't as bad as the Nazis were.

Mostly though, I'd like to see the expression used less in our public discourse about more mundane issues--like health care--where the slur is totally inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

"You are generally right, however not only the Nazis were Nazis. So were their ideological descendants that have not gone away. Simply look from Hassan al-Banna to Haj Amin Al Husseini and his Bosnian Nazi Muslim's, to the Baath party in Iraq, Arafat, today's Palestinian movement and more."

Are you seriously comparing Arafat and the Palestinian movement to Nazis?! On what planet do you spend most of your time on? Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table.


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