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The "Hitler Comparison"

by BobHiggins Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 05:20:41 PM EST

The "Hitler comparison" should be shouted from the rooftops, as should the Goebbels comparison, the Himmler comparison, the Mengele, Stalin, Torquemada, Beelzebub comparisons and all the rest. If it struts like a Nazi, talks like Nazi, tortures like a Nazi and wages aggressive and illegal war like a Nazi... it's not a duck.


Eighteen months or so ago I wrote a post comparing Bush, Cheney and the boys from PNAC to Hitler, to the Nazi hierarchy and to the wonderful folks who gave the world kristallnacht, the terror bombings of Guernica, of London and conducted history's magnum opus of human carnage, the holocaust, the destruction of two thirds of the Jews in Europe and millions of other "undesirables."

I took a moderate amount of heat for what one local (Dayton) commenter called my "classlessness," and received a few surly EMails from people who are probably, to this day, driving around with "Bush/Cheney" bumper stickers on their Cadillac and Lexus SUVs but since I want so badly to be loved and admired, (or at least not ignored) I resolved to try to avoid using the "Hitler Comparison" after that.

I saw it used by others on the blogs and, guardedly, in the MSM, witnessed their reception of similar treatment and I realized that a taboo (see Godwin's law) had been created. "Disrespectful to the office of the President," some cried, "diminishes the horror of the holocaust and the brutality unleashed on Europe's Jews by the real Hitler," cried others, "the ultimate ad hominem attack," wrote one academic seeking to show that such comparisons were childish , demeaning to those who offered them and "kills dead," scholarly internet discussions.


As the months dragged on and the war escalated, the deaths, the casualties, the carnage mounted, the attacks on dissent increased, civil liberties began to erode and disappear, as the regulatory bureaucracy and the judiciary were stripped of independent professionals and replaced with ideological partisans, as tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayers cash simply disappeared into the black hole of "privatization" and reason itself came under constant attack, I couldn't help myself, I began to use the "Hitler Comparison" more often in my various rants.


I don't pretend to scholarship, or journalism, I'm an old carpenter, not an academic, I'm content to be a pamphleteer. As long as the feedback tells me that people are reading my electronic leaflets, not ripping them from under their wiper blades and kicking them to the curb, if I sense that they are following the links, I find a small measure of hope, not a lot, just enough to make me look forward to coffee and another batch of leafleting in the morning.

The war..s continue, and as the fervor grows for another, in Iran and more evidence of official "misdeeds," of lies, of outright criminality, of incompetence, rampant cronyism and fraud continue to seep out from under the closed doors of what has developed into the most secretive, insular, antidemocratic administration in the history of the Republic, the "Hitler comparison" has grown in my mind and, I believe, much of the public's to the point that we need to repeal the "Godwin law" and popularize the idea in the hopes that by holding up the mirror to the tyrant we may drive him from our shores. I'm serious, we need "Hitler Comparison" T shirts, by the millions.

Sunday night I watched Naomi Wolf on PBS as she was interviewed about her recent book by "guest interviewer" Viet Dinh, a former Assistant Attorney General, and principle author of the Patriot Act, greatly admired by none other than Rupert Murdoch, in other words, as Adol George W is wont to say, no cream puff. Ms Wolf more than held her own, after all, she knows her book and the research on which its based and defended it well against a wholly predictable neo-con cross examination.



Her book may represent, albeit in a much more scholarly and reasoned way, the ultimate in "Comparisons," (I confess I haven't yet read it) She says that she charts the closing of various previously open societies, from Hitler to Stalin to Pinochet and on to our current rapidly closing system, and finds the comparisons striking, the trends frightening, ant the peril, imminent enough to cause her to run around the country like a latter day Paul Revere shouting that the redcoats brown shirts are coming, while making astute "comparisons" between current and past events, motives and personalities.


It is, of course, a book tour and yes, the object is to sell the book but there is much more here, I hear a clarion call in her voice and feel truth in her message.

Would that several million people, Germans perhaps, in 1933, 34 or 35 had been possessed of the poor taste and "classlessness," had been willing to succumb to the gaucherie of loudly and publicly comparing Adolph Hitler to... well ..what the hell, lets go for it.. Adolph Hitler, I wonder what result might have ensued. Or, back in the USSR, had Russians stood up and said "hey this Stalin guy is becoming a real Hitler or maybe even a Stalin," how many of the fifty million Russian dead might have been spared, the cold war, arms race avoided, at least greatly reduced.

There is a responsibility of those who govern to speak truth to the governed, but, when they fail in that responsibility, there is a greater responsibility on the part of the governed to speak truth to power, to spit in its eye and to dethrone it as necessary to insure the continuity of the rights, freedoms and welfare of the public, for that is what finally matters, not the government, nor the corrupt interests of the criminal oligarchs that it represents.



I listened to the GOP candidates a bit the other night, a little goes a long way with these birds, and heard the words "personal responsibility" several times, a phrase which is nothing more, on Republican lips, than a code word for racism, sexism and a continuation of the war they have waged against the "lesser classes' for all of modern history.

I agree with them in this sense, it is time for a large percentage of the population to take personal responsibility for themselves, for their country, to unite in the name of freedom, in the name of economic, political and spiritual liberty, to rise up and seize control of the whole package, the big damn shebang, to wrest control from the five percent who have kept them enslaved, who have enforced ignorance and poverty and to throw aside the twenty percent who guard the prison.

It may be "classless" and a violation of "Godwin's law to "Compare" George Walker Bush, the arrogant young scion of eastern establishment wealth and power, grandson of Senators and son of Presidents, cowboy of windshields and owner of chainsaws, to the beer swilling gutter scum of the beer halls of Munich and Berlin but I'm afraid it is unavoidable, it is inescapable, obvious, and it is historically necessary.

Terrorism? 9/11? The attack on the World Trade Center was their Reichstag fire, the invasion of Iraq, comparable to the blitzkrieg into eastern Europe. They share the same motives and ideology, the same vision, they exhibit the same compassion, and wield power with the same ruthless disregard for the lives, for the welfare and dignity of common humanity.

Make no mistake, these people, the architects of the last six years of international turmoil, of domestic division, of war and death, of crushing despair and hopelessness, are Nazis, perhaps not yet in the full bloom of adulthood, not yet grown to the evil proportions of their twentieth century predecessors, but they have emerged from their larval stage and are prepared for full flight, They have all the weapons, they lack nothing, nothing, but to complete their rewriting of our laws and of course, they need those handsome uniforms.

The only thing that can prevent them from fulfilling their wretched and terrible goals of oligarchy, universal slavery and domination of the world is your voice, your derision, your hand, raised in resistance, your lips mouthing a simple no.

Hurry, I think the uniforms have been ordered.



Bob Higgins


Worldwide Sawdust

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Great post. Keep on speaking up, the comparisons are quite apt. In some ways these folks are worse than the Nazis. Or at least more dangerous. They have an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction the Nazis never dreamed of, and are building many more. They aren't as powerful as they think, though, and could be defeated if people started really fighting back.
by mikep on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:08:26 AM EST
Agreed. It's a conclusion most honest people eventually come to.
by Monsieur le Prof (top notch records [all one word] at gmail dot com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 03:52:42 AM EST
Would that several million people, Germans perhaps, in 1933, 34 or 35 had been possessed of the poor taste and "classlessness," had been willing to succumb to the gaucherie of loudly and publicly comparing Adolph Hitler to... well ..what the hell, lets go for it.. Adolph Hitler, I wonder what result might have ensued. Or, back in the USSR, had Russians stood up and said "hey this Stalin guy is becoming a real Hitler or maybe even a Stalin," how many of the fifty million Russian dead might have been spared, the cold war, arms race avoided, at least greatly reduced.

Fully agreed! But then again, I repeatedly railed against the use of Godwyn's Law to club discussion.

To restate my main point: those railing against Hitler/Nazi/fascism comparisons are only capable to view fascism as the end state of Nazism, and ignore the long step-by-step road that took there from Weimar democracy. Thus they view Nazism (fascism) as something singular, without a historical lesson, and without a sense that if similarities are pointed out today, that is not necessarily a 10% prediction of similar development tomorrow, but a way to start action to prevent such a development.

Make no mistake, these people, the architects of the last six years of international turmoil, of domestic division, of war and death, of crushing despair and hopelessness, are Nazis,

This is the one point where I wouldn't go as far -- "fascists" is bad enough for me, to name one specific manifestation only makes one search for the differences.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:00:32 AM EST
Fully agreed!
i think I have to disagree with you here, DoDo, I honestly don't think, if someone had been able to come back from the future and told each German, what would happen, that it had changed the outcome. They would not have been believed. - NO that would not happen here, we are different, we are better. Those are not our problems, how dare you comparing me to those ....

no, as sad as it makes me, to say this, it would not have changed doddle.
what would have changed, is not a comparison, but the recognition of the other.
When they came for, ... because I wasn;t one of them. The famous quote of the German submarine aptain, eh church minister.

However, my argument, is not that the comparison should not be made, I am criticising its usefulness to advance an argument.
It can certainly move on an emotion, and might make people realise something. But then, I would argue, they are realy on connecting to a deeper recognition of the underlying problem of Faschism, and not its historical appearance between 1933 and 1945.

So, motivation to act, stand up, speak, I am all for that - but advancing an intellectual argument, understanding human behaviour on a deeper level, (restricted) no.

by PeWi on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:25:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When they came for, ... because I wasn;t one of them. The famous quote of the German submarine aptain, eh church minister.

I think that quote works the same way I argued. That quote forces the recognition of the other via danger to oneself, e.g. it lists the step-by-step extension of persecution, with those feeling safe at first and not feeling solidarity with the first victims coming on the line at the end.

I wasn't thinking of historical what-ifs, but present-day what-ifs. Germans in the thirties might have been incredulous that a step-by-step elimination of freedom and democracy can be a road to such monstrous crimes and such brutal a war loss, but people today can be warned that it happened before, and we should get off the train while it's still just rolling out of the station.

It is precisely the in itself minor advance of each new advance in one direction (each pull on the Overton Window) that people should be warned to not dismiss as insignificant. First they went after Saddam, then the terrists, then the suspicious Arabic-origin immigrants, then the loonie-leftists, but I am safe, I am neither of them...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:42:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IE just ate my first answer (I want Ajax- or something to that effect, saving my drafts), and maybe that was good , but this second reply might be even more disjointed.

another problem I have with the comparison argument is: Nazism is seen as the utter evil incarnate. But if 25% of Germans to date (and an even higher percentage of over 50%) say there were good things done under the Nazis, then that also means, that as a warning, it will come as bad as it was under the Nazis, has only limited effect. those 25% will think, but heh, wasn't that bad, my family survived, thrived, made millions (yes, I am looking at George W. Bush and his Grandfather) - so why is he making such a fuzz?

If you want to connect with right wingers and tell them what bad will happen, when they support the limitations of freedom and compare it to the Nazi's, they will say, but the Nazi's had a clear politic on racial purity, that I would love to have, what are you trying to make me afraid off?
However, if the Nazi comparison is not triggered, that person might come around to the realisation of the consequences of limitations of liberties and will support your point of view.

by PeWi on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:15:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and an even higher percentage of over 50%) that should be: of over 50ies.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2690152.ece

Some 37 per cent of the over-60s supported the idea.

by PeWi on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:56:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're adding a new dimension here, one which on reflection I find useful.

BobHiggins is citing the Nazis as the archetype of the evil state, to illustrate where the US will end up if it goes too far down the current road. To that extent it is somewhat of an abstraction, typical of how the entire complex is treated in general English-language discourse.

You are approaching it as a real entity which left behind a very real and problematic legacy in attitudes, infrastructure, law, biographies, etc., to which people do not always respond as unambiguously as they do to "Nazis=evil".

Presumably, there would have been a legacy to wrestle with, even if one of the assassination attempts had succeeded, or if other countries had responded with force, say, to the militarization of the Ruhr. And we would do well to keep in mind that the current regime will leave behind a toxic legacy when it leaves even if it is prevented from curtailing freedoms further.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 12:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for reading and taking time to comment
By the way,

Please go to the head of the class.

Thanks for "getting it."

Bob

http://bobhiggins.wordpress.com/

by BobHiggins (rlh974@yahoo.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:13:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My problem with these comparisons are - they don't necessarily tell me anything new.

Why do I have to be told, that Bush is like Hitler, the the GOP is built on the Nazi party, or what ever. Apart from an emotional argument, I don;t have any intellectual advancement. As far as I can see, it is a motivational argument. It is supposed to make people listen up and be outraged.

But I am already outraged. Those that forget history are bound to Groundhog Day it? We are not repeating history - history does not repeat, as there are all new players and circumstances, political constallations and alliances.
The human continuum on the other hand, in my opinion, means that we are always working with the same experiences of fear, hate, love, solidarity. That's what stays the same, that's what cannot be altered - that is the human condition. And therefore human behavioural paterns repeat.
A strong fearinducing machine makes people follow blindly its disgusting orders. That description fits Nazi's, Stalinism, and Bush. How do I compare them? I don't - I start from human behaviour and use historical examples, but the starting point is the disregard of the stranger, the pushing of fear, not that they are Nazi or Bushists.
The starting point is a attitude towards the human, that respect it in its diversity and multitude and the deviations and perversions.

Anyhoo. My only point is: Comparison that polarise are motivational, not evolutional, or in other words do not progress an argument as they are stuck in the past and are then easily dismissable, for that.

by PeWi on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:07:09 AM EST
It's more than motivational.  Read about how Hitler used the Enabling Act to unchained Germany from the Rule of Law and made his very WORDS the law.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling_Act

Then look at various legal positions that Bush has taken.

The Nazis - like Bush - never had a majority, never had the wholehearted support of the German people, never had the "advantage" of a Civil War (unlike the USSR) where they could crush their opponents.  They had to proceed incrementally.  

There are indeed lessons to be learned by comparing the facts on the ground.  

I don't NEED motivation.  I need knowledge.

by cambridgemac on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 10:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Loved that morphing picture from the moment I saw it!
Did you know there is another one for Donald Rumsfeld
by Lasthorseman on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 07:22:15 AM EST
There are some important differences.

For Hitler to institute a police state and declare a war of aggression, he actually needed to extra-legally murder a number of his opponents and even his allies, in the Night of the Long Knives, after which Germany's jurisprudes decided (of course) that such actions were perfectly legal. (I conjecture that all jurisprudes in all nations would do the same faced with such circumstances ... English judges already crap it when faced with the prospect of pissing off a 'democratic' parliament, so lord knows how they would do under the threat of being murdered ...)

But the US has gone to a similar stage without such a thing happening. Bush didn't have to draw up in a car with some of his mates and get them to start shooting people, and have the CIA do the same across the country. He just bullshitted everyone, and everyone said, 'Yeah, OK.'

The uncomfortable truth is that the people of the US have already exceeded the people of the Third Reich in terms of moral culpability for acts such as aggressive war and the murder of millions. You don't get killed for standing up to Bush. But you got thrown in the KZ in short order for standing up to Hitler. The penalty you face for resistance does have some practical impact on moral culpability. Very few people can be expected to be good at the price of their lives. It is reasonable to expect a higher standard from people who do not face such a cost.

Yeah, the death toll is smaller, but things are just starting up. And let's face it, the US has proven no slouch at killing millions of defenceless people in the past.

by wing26 on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 11:30:04 AM EST
You do not have to execute people on the main square to convince them they are under a death threath. And if you can convince them to vote in dictatorship you can most certainly get them to shut up regarding death threaths.

2001 anthrax attacks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, also known as Amerithrax from its FBI case name, occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on September 18, 2001. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Democratic U.S. Senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others. The crime remains unsolved. Senator Patrick Leahy, one of the recipients of an anthrax letter, publicly stated just before the sixth anniversary of the case that he believes people within the US government know the source of the anthrax powder.[1]

2001 anthrax attacks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although the anthrax preparations were of different grades, all of the material derived from the same bacterial strain. Known as the Ames strain, it was first researched at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Fort Detrick, Maryland. The Ames strain was then distributed to at least fifteen bio-research labs within the U.S. and six locations overseas.

(Have I mentioned how much I like TribEXT?)

Now, I will not claim that it was perceived as a general death threath to opposing politicians and journalists. Perceived among themselves that is. I have no way of proving that, in fact it is the sort of thing that generally stays unclear until a regime falls and archives are opened or until people die and historians are let into archives and given access to letters and diaries. I am merely submitting that it is a possibility which (if true) I think would go a long way in explaining the extremely weak spines in DC.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senator Wellstone falling out of the sky, in (yet another!) mishap that was not properly investigated.  

And then, of course, the Cheney hunting accident.  

The Bushco death-threats are really not so subtle.  

But their real effect comes from the fact that even as they rattle opponents, the public refuses to notice them.  

It is the denial and collaboration which is the heart of the disease.  

Unlike Hitler, Bush is really incompetent, and without the denial and collaboration would have been swept away (voted out or impeached) long ago.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Oct 28th, 2007 at 04:18:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And then, of course, the Cheney hunting accident.  

The Bushco death-threats are really not so subtle.

Hmm, what threat did Cheney's hunting partner pose to the Bushistas?

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 1st, 2007 at 05:54:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, but the retrospective legalization of a murderous purge was just step 9 of 10 in the Gleichschaltung (Wikipedia)
In the summer of 1934, Hitler instructed the SS to kill Ernst Röhm and other leaders of the Nazi party's SA, former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and several aides to former Chancellor Franz von Papen in the so-called Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934/July 1, 1934). These measures received retrospective sanction in a special one-article Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defense (Gesetz über Maßnahmen der Staatsnotwehr) (July 3, 1934).


We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 1st, 2007 at 05:51:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way www.agonist.org has altered my comment.
I said I always liked that picture and it's most appropriate comparison.

http://agonist.org/bobhiggins/20071024/the_hitler_comparison#comment-133988

That is NOT my NOT.

by Lasthorseman on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 08:58:26 PM EST


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