Posts Tagged “appeal to hitler”

Berlin Holocaust Memorial in snowFor years now, the “appeal to Hitler” (or reductio ad Hitlerum) (aka “appeal to Nazis,” reductio ad regnum tertium, etc.) has been a rhetorical weapon people have used to disparage pretty much anyone they hate. Since his election, the Right has hurled ad Hitlerums at President Obama pretty much non-stop, but prior to that, the Left often threw them at President G.W. Bush and V.P. Cheney. It’s an old habit, then, among American ideologues.

I’ve cataloged many instances of politicians, clergy and pundits using this vile propaganda technique, right here in this blog. It’s almost always invalid, because the people accused of being Nazis usually haven’t come even remotely close to doing anything like what the real Nazis really did during the 1930s and ’40s. Essentially, whenever I hear someone throwing around ad Hitlerums, I dismiss him/her as a childish whining crybaby who has nothing worthwhile to say.

In his own ongoing propaganda war against the Palestinians, as Haaretz reports, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just let loose with his own clever twist on the old ad Hitlerum (WebCite cached article):

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked public uproar when on Wednesday he claimed that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the one who planted the idea of the extermination of European Jewry in Adolf Hitler’s mind. The Nazi ruler, Netanyahu said, had no intention of killing the Jews, but only to expel them.

In a speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu described a meeting between Husseini and Hitler in November, 1941: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).’ According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.”

Netanyahu’s remarks were quick to spark a social media storm, though Netanyahu made a similar claim during a Knesset speech in 2012, where he described the Husseini as “one of the leading architects” of the final solution.

Haaretz doesn’t elaborate much on what makes Bibi’s claim counterfactual, but a (UK) Guardian story on his remarks does (cached):

Yad Vashem’s chief historian, Prof Dina Porat, told the Israeli news website Ynet that Netanyahu’s claims were incorrect. “You cannot say that it was the mufti who gave Hitler the idea to kill or burn Jews. It’s not true. Their meeting occurred after a series of events that point to this.”…

n reality, the mass killings of Jews by SS mobile killing units – Einsatzgruppen – were already under way when the two men met face to face. The first was in Lithuania in July 1941, described by Yad Vashem as the “beginning” of the Final Solution.

In September 1941, again before Husseini’s meeting with Hitler, Einsatzgruppe C, commanded by Otto Rasch, killed more than 33,000 Jews over two days in the Babi Yar ravine on the outskirts of Kiev, an act of mass murder ordered by the new Nazi military governor of Kiev, Maj Gen Kurt Eberhard.

Look, I get that Israel and the Palestinians have a long, violent history. (Neither side has clean hands in that conflict … but at the moment, that’s beside the point.) I get that a new “stabbing intifada” has erupted, for purely irrational reasons (cached), and Bibi has to deal with it.

I also concede that Grand Mufti al-Husseini was, in fact, a ready student of Nazi propaganda and a raging anti-Semite. In many ways the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is perhaps the last extant relic of the Third Reich. But there’s just no way one can say he was the architect of the Holocaust. Simple chronology rules out any possibility of it.

Really, I get why Bibi would want to disparage Palestinians. I do. Honest! But … to lay the entirety of the Holocaust at their feet? When the facts don’t even come close to justifying it? Sorry, but that’s just wrong.

It’s time for everyone in the occidental world to just stop talking about Hitler and the Nazis already. Just. Fucking. Stop. If anyone feels the impulse to mention the Third Reich, s/he should stifle it and move on to something else. Or better yet, just shut up and stop talking altogether. (As the old proverb goes, it’s better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Bundesarchiv Bild 102-04062A, Nürnberg, Reichsparteitag, SA- und SS-AppellThe sad reality of life is that things happen to people. Sometimes, very bad things. Terrible things. Things like injuries or medical reactions that lead to incapacitation or even death. An example of this is the case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old who ended up brain-dead as a result of something that happened during a tonsillectomy (WebCite cached article).

The details of this case — especially regarding what, exactly, went wrong during the tonsillectomy — aren’t all in yet. But doctors who’ve examined her — including independent neurologists — have declared her brain-dead … meaning she is, unfortunately, gone. As one would expect, her family isn’t going along with this, and they’re in denial. They don’t want to admit Jahi is dead, although in fact, she is.

As they did with the Terri Schiavo case nearly a decade ago, the Religious Right is going to bat for her family, propping up their state of denial, and going hard after the medical industry. They’ve re-armed themselves with every rhetorical tool they used back then. Among these is the old reductio ad Hitlerum, which the Raw Story reports was wielded by none other than Fox News’s Mike Huckabee (cached):

Fox News host Mike Huckabee on Saturday warned that a California girl who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery last month could lead to situations like Nazi death camps and forced abortions in China if the hospital took her off life support.

The former Arkansas governor and ordained pastor began his Fox News show by admitting that he did not have the medical experience necessary to understand 13-year-old Jahi McMath’s condition but he encouraged her family to fight against any attempts to remove her from life support even though doctors said she technically “died several weeks ago.”

“Every life has value and worth,” Huckabee told his viewers on Saturday. “There is no such person who is disposable, one whose life has been deemed by others to be less than others and therefore expendable, I can’t share that.”

In his effort to paint the Children’s Hospital of Oakland as latter-day agents of the Third Reich, he pulled in another of the R.R.’s hang-ups, that being abortion:

He continued: “The road that starts that way in deciding that some lives have less value and are unworthy of protection, that leads to a culture that tolerates the undeserved killing of over 55 million unborn children in this country. It leads to China’s birth policy that limits the number of children for a family and enforces forced abortion if they deviate from the state-determined ideal.”

The McMath family is trying to get Jahi moved to another facility so they can keep her alive — a virtual zombie — desperately hoping for some sort of miracle that will resurrect her. Until she’s moved, the poor girl’s body is currently in the care of Children’s Hospital. I can’t see how Huckabee calling them Nazis is going to accomplish anything good … for her, or them. But hey, what can this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such important things?

If the R.R. really wanted to help the McMath family in any meaningful way, they’d pay for sound counseling to help them with their grief, so they can put Jahi to rest, and then live the rest of their lives. And possibly investigate what happened during the surgery, so that if there had been any malpractice, they can be compensated for it. But the R.R. doesn’t truly want to help the McMaths. They’d much rather use this tragedy to pitch fits about how the country isn’t being run the way they demand it be run. They’d rather devise ways to throw this case in the faces of their enemies, without regard to its relevance, so they can feel as though they’re getting control of the country back. They’d rather use it as fuel for their sanctimonious rage over the fact that they no longer run the show.

It’s all very childish, of course, but then, religionism itself is a form of immaturity, so what can one expect?

P.S. Contrary to what Huckabee said, declaring people brain-dead has nothing to do with deciding that someone is “disposable.” Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals don’t generally go into that business because they think some people are “disposable.” Brain-death is declared when someone’s condition warrants it … not because of any perceived “disposability.” By making this claim, Huckabee insulted the entire medical profession … and he should fucking apologize for it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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The day after KristallnachtIt’s common for irrationally sanctimonious people to hurl the old reductio ad Hiterum — or appeal to Hitler and/or the Nazis — at people they dislike. I’ve been blogging about this childish tendency for years now. It’s been used here in the U.S. by ideologues of all stripes. The Catholic Church has hurled ad Hitlerums lots of times, too, such as against President Obama and against the mass media for reporting on the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal that’s rocked it for over a decade now. The Pope himself has even declared atheism and secularism to be forms of Nazism.

And it seems they can’t help but keep doing the same thing. Der Spiegel reports that no less a prince of the Church than its doctrinal enforcer has decided to hurl an implied — yet exceedingly clear — ad Hitlerum at the Church’s critics generally (WebCite cached article):

A German archbishop is under fire for appearing to liken recent criticism of the Catholic Church to a Nazi-era pogrom. The cleric, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, had said that “targeted discrimination campaigns” against the church sometimes reminded him of a “pogrom sentiment.”

The doctrinal watchdog of the Catholic church, German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, has run into criticism from politicians for saying the church was being subjected to a “pogrom sentiment” because of its position on the ordination of women, same-sex partnerships and the celibacy of priests.

In an interview with the newspaper Die Welt published on Friday, the archbishop said: “Targeted discreditation campaigns against the Catholic Church in North America and also here in Europe have led to clerics in some areas being insulted in public. An artifcially created fury is growing here which sometimes reminds one of a pogrom sentiment.”

I was able to find the Die Welt article in question, but it’s in German (cached version). Note that Müller’s office — prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — is the same one that Cardinal Ratzinger held for over two decades prior to becoming Pope.

His use of the word “pogrom” is significant. While the word comes from Russian and was first used to speak of the harassment of Jews in that country in the wake of rumors that they’d been behind the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, “pogrom” has since become associated with any systemic harassment of Jews, up to and including the Holocaust wrought by the Third Reich. Archbishop Müller clearly thinks that criticizing the Catholic Church is the same as the “pogroms” which ultimately claimed the lives of millions of Jews. One cannot construe his accusation any other way.

Nevertheless, criticism is not wanton slaughter! It just isn’t. For Müller to say that is just fucking ridiculous.

It’s long past time for the wizened princes of the Church to grow the hell up for the first time in their sniveling little lives and stop bellyaching and whining that they’re being criticized. They no longer run the world, and that’s just how it’s going to be, from now on. They can either be mature and accept it, or act like little crybabies and keep complaining about it. Yes, I get that they can’t help themselves; as Christians, they wish to feel persecuted for Jesus, so even though no one is trying to wipe them out, they nevertheless delude themselves into thinking it’s happening. But they don’t have any rational excuse for clinging to their delusion … no matter how much they think they’re entitled to.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Santorum smiles while recounting a story about his fatherI’ve blogged many times already about the tendency of propagandists and ideologues to use the fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum — or comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime — in their so-called arguments. People just can’t seem to stop using it, no matter how invalid it may be. I can understand its appeal; it’s a raw, emotionally-compelling talking-point that’s sure to trigger outrage in an audience. What makes it fallacious is that the comparison is never apt; whatever is being compared to the Nazis, usually has little in common with them.

The Washington Post relates the latest example of this, from the mouth of the furiously Christofascist presidential candidate Rick Santorum (WebCite cached article):

In a speech at a megachurch here Sunday night, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) used some of his direst imagery yet to describe what’s at stake in this year’s presidential election, drawing an extended World War II analogy that seemed to suggest that the United States faces a threat that is on par with what the world faced in the 1940s. …

[Santorum said,] “Your country needs you. It’s not as clear a challenge. Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew. But remember, the Greatest Generation, for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness, where our closest ally, Britain, was being bombed and leveled, while Japan was spreading its cancer all throughout Southeast Asia. America sat from 1940, when France fell, to December of ’41, and did almost nothing.

“Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This’ll be okay.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? Why do we need to be involved? We’ll just take care of our own problems. Just get our families off to work and our kids off to school, and we’ll be okay.”

Santorum does not state explicitly who the cognate of “this guy over in Europe” is in his analogy, but clearly, he’s implying it’s president Barack Obama. The problem here is that Obama has not so much as come close to doing even one thing that Hitler or the Third Reich did, as I’ve already blogged; I’ll repeat some of those details here:

  1. Among the first things Hitler and his Nazi party did, once he became Chancellor in January 1933, was to outlaw other political parties, beginning with the Communists, then the Social Democrats, then the (Weimar) Democrats, the People’s party, the Centrists etc., eventually banning all parties other than their own. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even begun to make any moves along the lines of abolishing any other political parties.
  2. Hitler and the Nazis nationalized the country, dismissing the elected governments of Germany’s various states, and appointing Nazi operatives to run them. To my knowledge, neither Obama nor the Democrats have absconded with any of the 50 state governments; their elected governors and legislators remain in place.
  3. Prior to their seizure of power, Hitler and the Nazis had a freecorps or militia working for them, the Sturmabteilung (aka the S.A., Brownshirts, or storm troopers), who intimidated the Nazis’ opponents and rivals in the years leading to Hitler’s appointment, and which became their privately-run enforcement arm afterward (eventually spawning the dreaded Schutzstaffel, aka the S.S.). I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have any such militia, at the moment.
  4. Hitler and the Nazis also took control of higher education in Germany, installing loyal Nazis to run the universities and expelling many professors (particularly Jewish) they deemed harmful to the regime or to Nazi ideology. But I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have changed the management or faculty of any university or college.
  5. The Nazis also abolished all labor unions, forcing workers to join, instead, a nationalized agency, known as the German Labor Front (aka the D.A.F.) which essentially placed Germans at the whim of their employers. Not one union, on the other hand, has been outlawed since Obama took office … that I’m aware of, anyway.
  6. The people in charge of organizations that the Nazis abolished — such as rival political parties, the trade unions, etc. — were exiled and/or placed in concentration camps. These imprisonments numbered in the thousands, in the early years of the Nazi regime. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even come close to doing anything like this.

Put bluntly, it’s not correct to imply that someone is a Nazi, if s/he’s never done the things that the Nazis did.

As I’ve also remarked previously, the Left has thrown ad Hitlerums at the Right in the past, especially during the G.W. Bush administration. They were wrong to have done so, because the Bush administration didn’t do any of the above things, either. Still, that the Left used this tactic against them in the past, is why the Right feels entitled to use it, now. Unfortunately for them, though, this is two wrongs make a right thinking, and is fallacious. If it’s wrong to use ad Hitlerums, then it’s always wrong to do so … period.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Santorum would do this, though. As I’ve noted, he’s done this in the past. I can only assume he considers this a valid tactic, and that he’ll continue using it in the future. The really sad part of it, though, is that it will no doubt work for him. The sorts of people that Santorum is trying to reach already think Obama is a Nazi and are going to enjoy hearing him say it. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: IowaPolitics.Com, via Flickr.

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AuschwitzThe overuse of the reductio ad Hitlerum, or appeals to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, is a trend I’ve remarked on many times so far — and likely will have to again. Over the last couple of months, Fox News has become a particular outlet for this sort of fallacious antic, having been used by (probable) paranoid schizophrenic Glenn Beck and his boss, Roger Ailes. The Washington Post reports that a group of rabbis have called out these screaming, bellicose crybabies on their use of this childish tactic, ironically using Fox News’ “sister publication” to do so (WebCite cached article):

A coalition of rabbis wants Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust, and it’s making its views known in an unusual place.

The rabbis have called on Fox News’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to sanction his two famous employees via a full-page ad in Thursday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal – one of many other media properties controlled by Murdoch’s News Corp. …

The rabbis were prompted by Beck’s three-part program [cached] in November about liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck described as a “Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps” during World War II.

My skepticism caused me to wonder why the rabbis waited a couple of months to take out their ad, but the Post explained its timing:

Thursday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day [cached], an observance established by the United Nations in 2005.

For the record — and as I posted earlier — I do not think Beckie-boy or his boss are anti-Semites. They are, rather, furious with the Left, and so juvenile that they think they’re entitled to stoop to any kind of rhetoric — no matter how fallacious or vile it may be — to discredit the Left. Their anger and immaturity are so overwhelming that they just can’t help but act like tiny little children.

Can’t we all put away the tired, worn tactic of the reductio ad Hitlerum? Isn’t it time for a little more maturity and a little less caterwauling?

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It's not Fascism when Christians do it! Christian Fascism in America: If Fascism Comes to America, It Will Come Wrapped in the Flag & Carrying the CrossThe blogosphere has raged over the past few days over the remarks of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s comments about abortion. Naturally, he’s against it — even when the mother’s life is in danger — which follows his Catholic religion’s teaching that women’s lives are forfeit the moment they become pregnant. His remarks that have sparked controversy came in an interview with CNS News, where he said the following, as Huff reports (WebCite cached article):

A conservative Republican from Pennsylvania, Santorum has signaled he’s mulling a run for the White House in the next election cycle. During the interview, he voiced his staunchly pro-life stance, as well as his belief that when life begins “is not a debatable issue,” before going on to criticize the president.

“The question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn’t want to answer — is that human life a person under the constitution?” he said. “And Barack Obama says no. Well if that human life is not a person then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'”

Video of his remarks is courtesy of Youtube:

The buzz that’s erupted around the Internet is that “Santorum is a racist!” Well, I’m no fan of Santorum. He’s a ferocious Christofascist who probably has not had an original thought in his head for the last 3 or 4 decades; he’s only capable of continuously spewing religious and ideological doctrine told to him by others. So don’t think I’m defending him … I’m not. But really, I’m not sure this is evidence he’s a “racist.”

His comments are actually an indirect, implied version of the fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum, a reprehensible propaganda device I’ve blogged about on many occasions already. Now, Dear Reader, if you’re the critical thinker I hope you are, you must be wondering where I got that from … and you’d be 100% right to ask how I could draw such an inference. So here goes.

Santorum’s remark suggests that abortion is used to control the population of “undesirables” or as a tool of discrimination. This is, basically, eugenics. As such, this alludes to the Third Reich and its various policies intended to eliminate “degenerates” and — supposedly — improve the “Aryan race.”

I concede that Santorum never mentioned Hitler or the Nazis, however, the Religious Right frequently states explicitly that abortion choice equates with eugenics, which equates with Hitler. Here is one example of what Santorum is alluding to, and here’s another, and here’s yet another.

There is no way that Santorum’s intended audience would have failed to recognize his reference.

Isn’t it time for this kind of baseless, fallacious, personal demonization of others to stop? It’s childish at best, and disingenuous at worst. I don’t care for the reductio ad Hitlerum when the Left uses it, and find it still less appropriate for the Right — which prides itself on having upstanding morals — to engage in it.

Here’s my personal rule when it comes to this propaganda device, paraphrased from a saying used by the character Salvor Hardin in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation: “The reductio ad Hitlerum is the last resort of the intellectually bankrupt.”

My final note is that people like Rick Santorum — who would like to turn the US into a Christianized fascist regime — are hypocritical to accuse their ideological opponents of being Nazis. Of course, no Religious Rightist ever fails to disobey Jesus’ own explicit, clear injunction against being hypocritical … but hey, what can you expect from irrational militant religionists like Santorum?

Photo credit: Austin Cline / Atheism/Agnosticism at About.Com.

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Public Domain: Nazi Party Rally Nuremberg (NARA)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.

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