Posts Tagged “adolph hitler”

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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Hitler and MussoliniI’ve blogged before about how quick ideologues are to leap on the emotionally-charged reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy. It seems there is no letup in this phenomenon, in spite of how obviously invalid it is. The latest example that’s come to my attention is the following column by militant Rightist Thomas Sowell, courtesy of Jewish World Review (WebCite cached article), which opens as follows:

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics. Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

It’s curious that Sowell is complaining about “activating” people who haven’t previously been politically active … especially since his own fellow Right-wingers in the “Tea Party” could also be described this way. Oh well. You have to just accept a certain amount of brazen hypocrisy from a guy like that.

At any rate, while Sowell does not actually state in this column that “Obama is a Nazi” or “the Democrats are the Nazi Party,” his opening the column with the above paragraph cannot have any intention other than to make just this comparison. The reductio ad Hitlerum here is implied, rather than stated outright. It’s a clever move, I admit, but it’s also transparent.

In any event, allow me to address several points about this:

  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.

This is just a small selection. The truth is that the Nazi regime, in its early years, did many things the current administration hasn’t even dreamed about doing, much less attempted to do.

Really, details matter. If you’re going to call Obama and his administration “Nazis” — or as Sowell does, merely imply that they’re Nazis — then there have to be some details in common. I see no comparison, however. Obama hasn’t even come close to doing any of these things which were early hallmarks of the Nazi regime.

Granted, this is not a phenomenon solely found in the Right. It’s something I’ve seen coming from the Left, during the George W. Bush administration; Bush and Cheney were also compared to Hitler and the Nazis, in their time. However, I’ve found this rhetoric to be more frequent, at the moment, wielded by the Right.

For the most part, when someone compares Obama — or any other person or group — to Hitler and/or the Nazis, it’s not because there’s a discernible and objective resemblance. It’s merely because the accuser happens not to like them. Basically, then, it’s nothing more than name-calling. It’s childish, and therefore not acceptable behavior in grown adults. People like Sowell are much too old to be engaging in behavior this juvenile … yet they do so, nonetheless. One wonders why … ?

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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In a move that is sure to anger Jews around the world, the Vatican appears on track to canonize Pope Pius XII, who ran the Roman Catholic Church during World War II, and whose relations with the Third Reich were at best ambivalent, and remain a point of contention. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on this development:

Pope Benedict XVI moved two of his predecessors closer to sainthood Saturday, signing decrees on the virtues of the beloved Pope John Paul II and controversial Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized for not doing enough to stop the Holocaust.

The decrees mean that both men can be beatified once the Vatican certifies that a miracle attributed to their intercession has occurred. Beatification is the first major step before sainthood.

The Vatican had an odd relationship with the Nazi regime in Germany. In 1933 the R.C. Church became the first institution and sovereign state (i.e. Vatican City) to arrive at an explicit agreement with the Third Reich, called the Reichskonkordat. This agreement went a long way toward legitimizing the then-new regime in Germany. The Reichskonkordat was, in essence, a diplomatic coup for Hitler and his cronies. Also, although he was not Pope at the time this concordat was made, Pius XII was the papal nuncio who helped broker it. Later the R.C. Church appeared reluctant to do anything, even faced with the growing Nazi menace and the onset of the Holocaust.

Naturally, this backstory means that not everyone is thrilled with this development:

Some Jews and historians have argued that Pius should have done more to prevent the deaths of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. As a result, the German-born Benedict’s surprise decision to recognize Pius’ “heroic virtues” sparked immediate outcry from Jewish groups. …

“While it is obviously up to the Vatican to determine who its saints are, the church’s repeated insistence that it seeks mutually respectful ties with the Jewish community ought to mean taking our sensitivities into account on this most crucial historical era,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

The Church has long insisted that it was not, in fact, dormant in the face of Nazi atrocities:

The Vatican insists Pius used quiet diplomacy to try to save Jews. Pius, a Vatican diplomat in Germany before being elected pope, did denounce in general terms the extermination of people based on race and opened Vatican City up to war refugees, including Jews, after Hitler occupied Rome in 1943.

But he didn’t issue scathing public indictments of Jewish deportations, and some historians say he cared more about bilateral relations with Nazi Germany regarding the rights of the Catholic church there, than saving Jewish lives.

The problem with the Church’s position is that, even if it’s true, it’s still not really a very flattering potrait of the papacy at that time. The Vatican’s “quiet diplomacy” was, quite obviously, totally ineffective in doing anything to quell the Third Reich’s excesses. At some point Pius XII — if he were truly committed to stopping the Nazis — should have recognized the utter failure of his several years of “quiet diplomacy,” and tried a different tactic.

But he never did.

The reasons for this are not clear, but it was likely because, as one of the forgers of the alliance between the Church and the Third Reich, he was trying to salvage what remained of his own personal dignity.

At any rate, the impending canonization of Pius XII is yet another source of Jewish irritation with Pope Benedict XVI, who’s already in hot water over the re-admittance to Catholicism of bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St Pius X, who has denied the Holocaust, and about whom I’ve blogged already. Benedict stands at the edge of alienating the world’s Jews … and not for any good reason that I can see.

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