Metal Yarmulke
Sunday, January 11, 2004
 

A Letter from Godwin



A friend sent me this Salon story the other day.

"Two online entries out of hundreds in MoveOn's TV-spot contest compared Bush to Hitler, and Republicans cry "hate speech." But they're the ones who are twisting the truth."

I'd never heard of Joan Walsh before, but a quick Google shows that TrogWatch mentions her in the same breath as Ted Rall, which tells me a lot.

I emailed back, "Whatever. If the apology makes MoveOn.org and Joan Walsh feel all warm and fuzzy, I'm happy for them." I also recommended my friend check out this Gary Cruse post expanding on a Matthew Stinson turn on phrase: "defining extremism down."

The reply: "Not everyone thinks that MoveOn should have apologized. Feel free to verify for yourself whether or not the person [who wrote this piece] actually has family that died in the Holocaust."

Why, I asked, is that relevant? Even if the person lost every single relative in the death camps, the essay is just one person's opinion. Assuming s/he speaks for all Jews so affected is like assuming Adam Shapiro speaks for all American Jews on the subject of Israel and the Palis. (See especially comment #3 in that last link.) Meryl Yourish — who states clearly that hers is "not a blog for Bush" — has referred to those who make such arguments as "trotting out one's pet Jew."

The blogosphere hosts and is visited by no shortage of people who lost family to the Nazis yet support Bush...because they see the Holocaust gearing up again, but this time in Israel. Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are best-sellers not only in the hostile countries that surround her, but within her borders, among Arabs who enjoy more rights there than they would in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, or Fraudi Arabia.

So far, I've seen nothing to eliminate the possibility that Bush is on the same course as Hitler. And I've seen far too many analogies to dismiss the possibility.

Analogies that have been successfully fisked many a time by many a blogger. But here we go...

The propaganda. The lies. The rhetoric. The nationalism.

The first three are standard settings for any government. The fourth sounds more like just about any European nation at some point in the last century and a half than it does the U.S. at any time.

The flag waving.

Oh, right. Patriotism = nationalism. Most evident when, immediately after 9/11, we rounded up all the furrin-lookin' people in the U.S., shot them, and dumped them into mass graves.

The pretext of 'preventive war'.

Love the sneer quotes. The left has turned them into quite the art form.

The flaunting

Flouting, not "flaunting." OK, the writer probably speaks English as a second language, but sheesh, the editor should have caught that.

of international law and international standards of justice.

I'm trying hard not to laugh here.

As hinted in this Instapundit post, some people really need professional help for their fixation on "international law." All countries overwhelmingly follow policies that serve their own best interests. Funny how the U.S. is held to such a higher standard ...and no, I don't buy the argument my friend makes that we should be, any more than I buy the argument that Israel should be.

(Abundant sneering may be found when one Googles on the quote "The Constitution is not a suicide pact," purportedly by the late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. As I live in a redoubt of self-important sneerers, however, I can't say that such natterings impress me much, especially since 9/11/01.)

The disappearances of 'undesirable' aliens.

Reams of obfuscation in that sentence. First of all, who other than the left has actually used the word "undesirable"? If anything, the right is eager to bring in more illegal aliens...for economic reasons, which my correspondent, for one, regularly decries in discussions of job outsourcing.

Second, it seems like the U.S. has far more of a problem in forgetting about all the aliens it admits into the country than it does persecuting any of them...and the descriptions I've heard of GTMO from what I consider reliable sources didn't make it sound like persecution to me.

Given the piss-poor performance of the Office of Homeland Security to date, I wouldn't be surprised if there are still dozens of visitors here from countries with histories of terrorism that have "vanished" ... not into an Ashcroftian Auschwitz, but into their ethnic communities, untracked by any monitors of immigration.

The threats against protesters.

Whaaa???? "Threats"!? What, angry calls to talk radio shows, letters to the editor, and blog posts and comments?

Goddamned fucking pussy-ass babies. They want to be called "brave" for their "protest" and "dissent," which, we've been told endlessly, is in and of itself patriotic. (Thus these folks are THE biggest patriots in the Yoo Ess, bar none, as they're dissenting from what every other American believes, even creationists, who by and large were fooled by the "moon landing" [see Question #14] in '69.) But let there be heard one discouraging word, and they're screaming "censorship"...while, ironically, many of them are
enthusiastically censoring conservative viewpoints for real, especially on campuses
.

The invasion of a non-threatening sovereign nation.

"Non-threatening"? I won't touch that one. I will ask, however, why the "sovereignty" of every nation is so sacred EXCEPT when it's the U.S. or Israel.

Or Algeria, when it's the French who are acting unilaterally.

The occupation of a hostile country.

This is a bad thing?

The promises of prosperity and security.

I suppose W. should have made like Dhimmi Carter and told everyone to turn their thermostats down to 55F and put on two sweaters in the house, stop blow-drying their hair, and buy stinky self-composting toilets.

The spying on ordinary citizens. The incitement to spy on one's neighbors — and report them to the government.

I've never claimed the PATRIOT ACT was the best way to go about things — I have quite a few reservations about it.

In any case, didn't the Commies, rather than the Nazis, perfect this as a tool of political terror? I'm just wondering, rather than merely tossing out the word "Commie" for insult value, because I happened to find this test online last night. Haven't taken it yet, but I plan to.

The arrogant triumphant pride in military conquest. The honoring of soldiers. The tributes to 'fallen warriors.

Yes, because $DEITY forbid we honor those who risk their lives to protect us. Maybe we should scrap the entire military from the Pentagon on down and create a new Department of Hand-Holding and "Kumbaya" Singing.

As for "arrogance," a favorite charge by the EUnuchs...Freud had a word for this: projection.

Someone I met just last week in an utterly non-political capacity noticed my "First Iraq, Then France" bumper sticker. Shortly afterwards, he volunteered the information that he'd worked (in an IT capacity) in the local office of a French company, and had to deal with HQ a lot. He used the word "arrogant" several times. ("Incompetent" and "rude" as well.)

The diversion of money to the military.

"Diversion"?! Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but the underlying implication I read here is that military funding is always unethical and improper.

The demonization of government appointed 'enemies'.

"Government-appointed"?

You know, I've never heard the Bush Admin say one nasty word about the French, the Germans, or the Belgians (or, unfortunately, the Saudis). Is Mike Powell sending out some sort of subliminal broadcast that makes people like me boycott cheese and wine from those countries and refer to them compulsively as "The Axis of Weasels," even if we don't own tin-foil helmets?

The establishment of 'Homeland Security'.

Want the INS back?

The dehumanization of 'foreigners'.

Sneer quotes again, I see. Last I checked, "foreigners" was a perfectly acceptable word for those living in foreign countries. And many of them do a yeoman's job of demonizing themselves.

The total lack of interest in the victims of government policy.

If he's talking about people unjustly accused under the PATRIOT ACT, there's hardly a lack of interest, including among people to the right of center, as I've pointed out recently to my friend.

If he's talking about people who have actually been caught plotting violent acts against American citizens, or funneling money to those who do...um, count me among the profoundly uninterested.

The incarceration of the poor and mentally ill.

The problem with the severely mentally ill, at least as far as their homelessness is concerned, is that they're no longer "incarcerated." Their self-appointed "advocates," who see nothing inherently wrong with never showering and screaming in public at one's voices to shut the fuck up, were the ones who insisted upon this "freedom."

It's highly debatable which is worse, treating those with very serious psychiatric issues à la One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, or letting them sleep on sidewalk grates in weather such as we're having now in Boston. And I've known enough such unfortunate people (including one very sweet and generous-natured man, about 40 years old, who was allowed to suffocate to death while he was restrained face-down on a table) that the previous sentence was not at all typed flippantly.

As for "the poor," funny how the poor who commit crimes go to jail, while those who don't ... don't. (Oh, and for the record, rich and middle-income people who commit crimes should go there too.) But this has jack shit to do with the WOT, which is most definitely why it was brought up.

The growing prosperity from military ventures.

And I keep hearing all the time about how the WOT is gonna bankrupt us. Make up your minds, fer crissakes...

The illusion of 'goodness' and primacy.

Huh? Explain this to me, please; I never took any po-mo classes in kollidj.

The new einsatzgrupen forces. Assassination teams. Closed extralegal internment camps. The militarization of domestic police.

We are now leaving charted waters and taking a sharp and decisive turn into the Ocean of Raving Paranoia.

Media blackout of non-approved issues.

Oh, you mean like when the New York Times, L.A. Times, CNN, AP, Reuters, et al. suppress news that doesn't jibe with the "quagmire" storyline?

Blacklisting of protesters — including the no-fly lists and photographing dissenters at rallies.

Seriously, somebody please send me some links verifiably demonstrating that every mook in the U.S. with a "Let's Not Elect Him in '04, Either" bumper sticker is on a no-fly list.

As far as photographing "dissenters" goes...first of all, it isn't illegal, nor was it before PATRIOT. If you're going to tackle that issue, you've got to deal with the entire cultural phenomenon of security, traffic-light, and other hidden cameras. Second, if Our Brave Dissenters are hanging out in crowds with violent tendencies — and there have been quite a few such tendencies on display in the putative "peace rallies" of the last few years — I can't really blame the cops or anyone else for wanting their pics on file. This doesn't seem to be a new police tactic anyway.

There isn't much doubt in my mind — anyone who compares the history of Hitler's rise to power and the progression of recent events in the US cannot avoid the parallels.

Wait, didn't the writer admit, "I'm no expert on WWII" at the beginning?

I'm not, either, and I'll readily admit I need to brush up on history. But everything I've written above should make it clear that I don't consider the parallels to the '30s to be the making of the Bush Admin.

Is Bush another Hitler? Maybe not, but with each incriminating event, the parallel grows — it certainly cannot be dismissed.

I'm not sure exactly which logical fallacy the previous sentence is an example of, but it seems to me the author is trying to cover his/her ass while smearing Bush at the same time.

it looks as if Karl Rove is reading Hitler's playbook to plan world domination — and that is the stated intent of both.

Look, if you want to equate PNAC with "world domination," be my guest, but if you want to equate it with the National Socialists, show me the goddamned "showers." If you can't, then shut the fuck up.

From the Reichstag fire to the landing at Nuremberg to the motto of "Gott Mit Uns" to the unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq to the insistence that peace was the ultimate goal, the line is unbroken and unwavering.

The writer obviously needs more psychiatric help to deal with the paranoic ramifications of his/her PTSD.

Already, appeasement has been fruitless — it only encourages the brazen to escalate their arrogance and braggadocio.

The use of "appeasement" in this context would ordinarily lead me to label the writer either highly disingenuous or deeply stupid. Again, I'll be merciful and suggest a higher dose of medication.

Americans support Bush — by a generous majority — and mass media sings his praises while indicting his detractors — or silencing their opinions completely.

Oh, man. He not only needs a prescription, but a subscription...to the New York Times. Or does the mere existence of FOX NEWS cancel out the influence of every single other mass-media giant in the nation...not to mention overseas?

The American people seem to care only about the domestic economic situation — and even in that, they are in complete denial.

Projection again.

They don't want to hear about Iraq,

Yes, we DO! But we'd like to hear a balanced picture, rather than the equivalent in paragraphs of a body-count ticker for Coalition personnel.

and Afghanistan is already forgotten.

Hardly, unless it suits your argument to assume such. And note that Allan Forkum doesn't hesitate to criticize the Bush Administration at the bottom of the post.

Even the Democratic opposition supports the occupation of Iraq.

It does?

Everyone seems to agree that Saddam Hussein deserves to be executed — with or without a trial.

This is a person who survived the Nazis, but doesn't believe someone who systematically killed and tortured people by the hundreds of thousands doesn't deserve death? WTF?! Did he oppose the death sentences handed down at the Nuremberg Trials, too? If so, at least he'd be consistent.

'Visitors' are fingerprinted.

"Visitors" are not American citizens and have never been entitled to the full slate of rights that citizens have.

How do other countries treat their "visitors," btw?

Guilty until proven innocent.

Show me ONE civil court case that has proceeded from this presumption. Military tribunals have always operated on a different basis.

Snipers are on New York City rooftops.

Um....'70s flashback? Could be Nurse Bloomberg's fault, I s'pose. Where's Bernie Goetz when you really need him? Perhaps we could put the newly-sprung John Hinckley into some sort of training program...and tell him it's Jodie's idea.

When do the Stryker teams start appearing on American streets?

I dunno, but I myself look forward to seeing heavy-metal Christian hair bands thrashing out "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" on my local sidewalks...oh, wait, that's Stryper. Sorry.

The Constitution has been suspended — until further notice.

I've already commented sufficiently above to clue the reader in as to what I think of this assertion. Last few paragraphs snipped because any responses would likewise be mere rehashes.

UPDATE I: Another friend (who, I'm almost certain, does not agree with it any more than I do) sent me this TruthOut essay today, by its executive director, Marc Ash. I don't have the time or inclination to deal with it in its entirety, but I did note this bit: And who are these bloody Europeans who keep comparing Bush to Hitler? Take that German Justice Minister, Herta Däubler-Gmelin, who compared Bush's dealings on Iraq to those of Hitler. That really takes the cake, now doesn't it? What do the Germans know of Hitler anyway?

Apparently not much, as they're constantly comparing Ariel Sharon to Mean Mister Mustache, too. And that sixty years after Hitler's death, they still haven't figured out how to deal with all those pesky neo-Nazis. Granted, they're a much smaller country with a much larger pool of white supremacists than the U.S. is and has, but making martyrs of them by prosecuting them for "hate speech" hasn't exactly worked very well.

UPDATE II: The Sunday edition of the Boston Globe ran this op-ed by the eminently reasonable Cathy Young (what's gotten into the Globe lately that they're actually publishing pieces by people who make sense?). I like how she tackles the disingenuity of MoveOn.org's claim that the "Bush = Hitler" ad just "slipped through": Maybe it was an oversight. But it's also possible that MoveOn staffers did not realize just how offensive these spots were because Bush-Hitler comparisons are not viewed as beyond the pale on the left side of the political spectrum.

Do note, however, that Young also criticizes conservatives for falling into the Godwin trap, specifically Ralph Peters for his rather over-the-top comparison of Howard Dean to Hitler, Goebbels, Lenin, Trotsky, and Brezhnev in the January 5 New York Post. "It's a wonder that Mao and Saddam Hussein didn't make the cut," she observes. Though Peters is an astute and much-needed observer of international politics, whereas Dean is IMHO utterly unfit to assume the presidency, I agree with Young's take. It's rather hard to lambaste one's opponents for using the single nastiest analogy in modern-day politics and retain credibility when one is resorting to it oneself.

(Jeez, but it'd be nice if the Globe's webmasters could figure out that the entire point of putting an article online is that it can be linked to related stories. There's not one hyperlink in the entire Young op-ed. It does seem that Peters' Post essay is neither still up nor has yet been archived at nypost.com. However, I did find this page of four letters written in response to it. They can fairly be said to run the gamut.) 
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