Monday, March 28, 2005

"Bush As Hitler" Hyperbole and Why It's Dangerous

Bravo to Victor Davis Hanson (and hat tip to my pal Jerry). If you're sick of celebrities bashing things they don't know about, comparisons of Bush to Hitler or anti-Americanism in general, you should check out his very astute analysis about deconstructing the Hitlerian slur. One of my favorite quotes:

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.

Even better, he nails Europe for their overwhelming hypocrisy. And that's just the beginning.

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.

You can't help but get a warm glow when reading something that so eloquently nails the thoughts that have been swirling in your head -- or at least in mine. So he takes on celebs, politicians, Europe. Who's left? Exactly. The radical Left. Don't worry -- he won't let you down. 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.

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?

Exactly. So many people don't realize that by giving in to their hysteria about Bush and using such hyperbole, they are actually diminishing the atrocity that was the Holocaust. Don't we have enough people/terrorist-loving regimes doing this already -- must we help them?


At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I love it when people can so eloquently put into words that which I myself can not.


At 5:04 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

These "home cooked" historians on all occasions also confuse Nazi and fascist movements and call Hitler "fascist".
It is hard to blame the young ones though, since most encyclopedias and other popular reference handbooks refer to National Socialism and/or fascism as Extreme Right ignoring their socialist origins (perhaps they mean the right of the left movements).
They also confuse autocracy, dictatorship with totalitarianism.
Of course on many occasions it is not unintentional.
Just look at this:
We consider Neo-Nazis as dangerous kooks and criminals propagating homicide and at the same time many of us considers radical-left as “progressive” and tolerate them as university professors although they openly preach genocide/revolution and overthrowing of democratically established systems.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger RomanWanderer said...

I must say, I was disappointed to read Garrison Keillor’s political rantings, onyl a few years after 'discovering' his well written humorous stories.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Gindy said...

Your site is working again. This was a good topic to post about. It really has been troubling to see all of the people comparing Bush to Hitler.

I consider those people to be historical idiots. It shows another failure of our schools with teaching history.

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

I might be alone in this crowd in my dislike for President Bush -- but you will never, ever hear me compare the man to Hitler. To me, such comparisons are intellectual fast food and are of no "nutritional" value. I get quite annoyed when I hear people dismiss Bush as "evil," or as the embodiment of evil, Hitler. It only shows how frustrated and infantile the left can be.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Esther said...

GREAT comments, guys. Thanks for putting up with blogger too.

jonathan, i have no issue with anyone not liking Bush when it's done in a reasoned way. And there are plenty of reasons! But when someone throws around the Hitler thing, I just tune them out because they've proved themselves to be irrational and not worth listening to.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Tran Sient said...

I think its good from one standpoint. It discredits them.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

"I get quite annoyed when I hear people dismiss Bush as "evil," or as the embodiment of evil, Hitler. It only shows how frustrated and infantile the left can be."

Agreed. People can hate Bush without making odd comparisons that don't sense.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger patrickafir said...

Oy! I've been trying for more than a day to sign in to comment on this. lol

When people pull this sort of nonsense, I automatically invoke Godwin's law. It pretty much discounts whatever the person is getting at. It annuls any other points they make as well as their credibility as a reasonable person.

The reactionary left is not only a disgrace to themselves and to our country, but they are also grossly unfair to President Bush and they diminish the horror that Jews went through in the Holocaust.

What is most foul is when they call Sharon or the IDF Nazis. That ires me beyond words.

VDH is a fantastic writer and historian, by the way.


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