I’ve blogged a number of times already about the common tendency to invoke Hitler and/or the Third Reich against one’s ideological opponents. It seems people have lost the ability to explain why one’s adversaries are wrong, and are left only with the ability to call them “Nazis.”
The latest example of this phenomenon comes from Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who hurled an ad Hitlerum at the people who run NPR, in his interview with Howard Kurtz, newly arrived at the Daily Beast (WebCite cached article):
Then [after railing against the evils of several other folks, Ailes] turned his sights on NPR executives.
“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”
Yes, Rog. Absolutely. The people who run NPR have managed to outlaw all political parties other than their own; they have platoons of private stormtroopers who beat up those who oppose them; they’ve outlawed labor unions; and they disposed of the state governments and now command all 50 states.
Sound ridiculous? Of course it is. Those things are what the actual Nazis of early 20th century Germany really did in their own country … but which the management of NPR, today, has never even come close to, and honestly, could never even begin to do, even if it wished to.
Allow me to be brutally honest here: Appeals to Hitler, the Nazi Party, and/or the Third Reich are — to paraphrase a saying made famous by Isaac Asimov in Foundation — the last refuge of the ignorant. Ailes cannot — or will not — explain precisely how the management of NPR is wrong, so he calls them Nazis … as though that settles the matter. Unfortunately, Rog, it doesn’t. Name-calling is childish, and beneath someone of your advanced age.
Not to be outdone, Ailes proceeded to dig himself an even deeper hole:
Speaking of going too far, I asked Ailes about a recent crack by Bill O’Reilly that seemed to envision a violent end for Dana Milbank. The Washington Post columnist had criticized Fox’s election coverage as biased and neglected to acknowledge that numerous Democrats had appeared as commentators.
“Does Sharia law say we can behead Dana Milbank?” O’Reilly asked his colleague Megyn Kelly. He added: “That was a joke for you Media Matters people out there.” Milbank wrote a follow-up column objecting to the violent imagery, saying he was a friend of Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in that fashion in Pakistan. O’Reilly then accused the reporter of casting a bit of humor as a serious threat.
So should O’Reilly be joshing about beheading Milbank?
Ailes couldn’t resist: “Well, I would have cut a little lower.”
He quickly got serious: “No, he shouldn’t joke about beheading… Bill knows he probably shouldn’t have said it. He just shot off his mouth.” [This portion reaches page 2 of Kurtz's article, cached here.]
Yeah, real funny, there, Rog. Fucking hilarious, that joke was. Daniel Pearl, I’m sure, is laughing … wherever he may be (if anywhere) after he was beheaded … and I’m sure his widow and the rest of his family are laughing it up, too.
The Religious Right’s idea of “humor” is — as you can see — simultaneously perverse, macabre, and juvenile.
Someday all of these reductio ad Hitlerums … or ad Regnum Tertiums … will stop. Unfortunately the ideologues of America are too childish to permit this to happen. Yes, I admit, as I’ve noted previously, the Left in the US is also guilty of this … but at the moment, appeals to the Third Reich are a tool of the Right. In any case, no amount of past use of this profane rhetorical tool can possibly be construed as permission to keep using it perpetually. Two wrongs, as they say, do not make a right — and mature adults understand this. It’s time for Rog and his pals in the Religious Right to grow up, and learn this lesson.
Photo credit: pingnews.com.Tags: appeal to hitler, appeal to nazis, appeal to third reich, fox news, nazis, nazism, reductio ad hitlerum, reductio ad regnum tertium, roger ailes, third reich