Posts Tagged “death panels”

For veteran cybernauts like me (I started on Compuserve in the late 80s, and dabbled in the Internet in the years when Gopher was one of the chief ways to get around and there was no World Wide Web), Godwin’s Law is an old concept whose wisdom has repeatedly shown itself over the years. This “rule” as it was originally stated by Mike Godwin — back in the days when Usenet was the only significant venue for Internet discussions — averred that, if a discussion lasted long enough, someone involved will eventually mention Hitler and/or the Nazis. It was Godwin’s humorous way of pointing out a tendency for people to use Hitler and the Third Reich in their argumentation (aka argumentum ad Hitlerum).

Over time, the Internet community has expanded the meaning of Godwin’s Law, and applied it outside of Usenet; it’s commonly said that, once someone invokes the Nazis in any Internet discussion, the argument is over and the person who made the appeal to Nazis has lost.

The furious debate over healthcare reform in the United States has, as I’ve pointed out already, included a great deal of immaturity. It was only a matter of time until people started making accusations of Nazism at each other, over it. And in turn it was only a matter of time before the mass media finally picked up on this trend.

Hence, the New York Times Opinionator blog has observed that Godwin was right, and the inevitable invocations of Nazism have popped up all over the place:

Godwin’s Law has the health care debate in a hammerlock. …

In this brief interview, an older protester outside the Raleigh, N.C., office of Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat, delivers the basic Obama-as-Hitler charge: “Hitler got rid of his undesirable citizens through ovens. Obama wants to get rid of people like me through hospice. . . . If [people] are a certain age, grim reapers calling themselves as counselors will go and tell them to take a pill and just die.”

It is, of course, true that Hitler and the Nazis disposed of people they were opposed to, and in large numbers, but this comparison is flawed, because no one has proposed that “death panels” or euthanasia be a part of any reform measure. The Opinionator blog entry provides a laundry list of people invoking the Nazis in this discussion, including accusations that some of these invocations are feigned, attempts to discredit the opposition:

Just who introduced Hitler in to the town halls has been the subject of not inconsiderable debate itself: “Nancy Pelosi started it,” says Powerline. Another theory has is that folks carrying the Obama/Hitler signs are Democratic plants. Pamela Geller wrote yesterday at Atlas Shrugs, there is a “fifth column manufacturing smears and lies.” Others on the right have tried to use confirmed reports that Lyndon LaRouche supporters are sporting Obama/Hitler posters at protests to distance themselves from the Obama-is-a-Nazi charge.

So what’s going on here is a “he-started-it; no, she-started-it” schoolyard-style spat among a bunch of sniveling whiners who are all too juvenile to stop with the caterwauling and start discussing the matter like grown adults.

Full disclosure: Many times in this blog I’ve used the term “religionazis” to describe people who want a religious takeover of the country. I confess that in doing so, perhaps I ran aground on Godwin’s law myself. I devised the term because in one simple compound word, it conveys a very striking picture of what I’m talking about. Any other phrase I could think of, would be too unwieldy to be concise and effective. I think I will use the slightly-milder “religiofascists” from now on. If I’m going to condemn people for invoking Nazism when it comes to things they don’t like, the last thing I should do, is keep doing exactly the same thing myself, no matter my reasons for doing so. Yes, the Nazis were fascists, so maybe this is a transparent substitution … but while it’s true that all Nazis are fascists, not all fascists are Nazis. There are variations of fascism.

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The mantra that newly-elected President Obama is a “socialist,” that he’s trying to impose “socialized medicine” on the country, etc. is old Rightist material. But to date it’s mostly been couched in political terms. Finally, it’s being expressed as a religious struggle, as reported by the Religion Dispatches blog — prefaced by a pithy lead-in:

Shouldn’t a professed “health and wealth” preacher be concerned with health care? Apparently, politics get in the way

… Over 5.000 persons from across the country packed into the Fort Worth Convention Center to hear Copeland and their Word of Faith line-up proclaim their message of divine health and wealth. Yet when it came to President Obama’s plan for health care reform — a plan that would greatly assist the vast majority of working class and underemployed conference attendees — Kenneth Copeland was excessive in his disdain for government-run healthcare.

“Socialism” seemed to be Copeland’s favorite term throughout the week as he warned the crowd to reject any government assistance. “Sickness and disease,” according to Copeland, “is not a medical problem, it’s a spiritual problem.” Thus, he argued that any healthcare program would be nothing more than a “Babylonian system — man trying to meet his own needs without God.”

Gee, that “pray instead of medicate” plan sure worked for people like Madeline Kara Neumann, didn’t it?

What was that? It didn’t? Woops. Must have been God’s will!

Face it, folks, the religionazis are frightened, and not necessarily without reason. They view things like “socialized medicine” as impediments to constructing the theocracy they want the United States to become. People looking to government for healthcare, makes it harder for religious leaders like Copeland to control them. A strong governmental presence would tend to make it more difficult to make them appear to be the country’s caretakers.

Unfortunately for them, their worries are based on factual errors. No one in Washington is working on any “socialized medicine” proposal. There is a lot being said about what’s being proposed … and most of it is not true. Among the things which are not true is one that Copeland himself mentioned, the so-called “death panels” that would euthanize people for turning old. It’s not true, and those who are saying so, know it. For that, Copeland earns admission to my “Lying Liars for Jesus” club.

Why do these people feel it necessary to lie for Jesus? Who do they think they are? Paul (Saul) of Tarsus?

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