Above: The Front Page of Stars and Stripes, May 2, 1945
Image in the Public Domain
Just leave Hitler out of it.
—Morning Joe, April 12, 2017
As Sean Spicer has learned this week and, to his credit, he should have just left Hitler out of a discussion of the crimes of the dictator of Syria.
The Hitler analogy is one I hear people of various political stripes invoke against their opponents frequently. The analogy applies well to only a select group of individuals that includes Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, the body count of each of whom exceeds that of the Fuherer, responsible for the Holocaust. I recall that my Paul Broun, Jr., my former Congressman, compared Barack Obama to Hitler and Stalin–one a Fascist and the other a Communist–two opposing ideologies. I remember hearing someone say “Hitlery Clinton” years ago. I also recall hearing more than one person liken advocates of gun control to Nazis. Oddly enough, I do not remember hearing anyone condemning the ownership and driving of Volkswagens, vehicles of which Hitler approved, due to the Nazi connection.
The crimes of the Nazis–especially Hitler–were of such magnitude that one should never trivialize them. If every other thing is as bad as something the Nazis did, how bad could the Nazis have been? The answer to that question is or should be obvious: (1) The Nazis were especially evil, and (2) Very little has ever risen to the level of evil of the Third Reich. Evil of a magnitude lesser than that of the Nazis has long existed; examples have included Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad.
As Jeffrey Toobin has said, “arguments are easy at the extremes. ” I conclude that the comfort level with the simplicity of easy arguments makes many people want to avoid the messier arguments between the extremes and leads them to resort to fallacies such as the misuse of the Hitler analogy. Doing so also weakens their arguments and reveals them to be idiots.
Can we just leave Hitler out of it when he does not belong there?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
APRIL 13, 2017 COMMON ERA