Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just like Hitler

One of the favorite games of the political extremes, most prevalent on the right but also often from the left, is to say that person X is "just like Hitler." Really? So George W. Bush or Barack Obama are short German dictators? Err... not exactly.

The usual technique used is to find some human attribute shared by many people, most of whom are *not* Hitler, and then say that having that attribute makes the target "just like Hitler." For example, Hitler loved Mickey Mouse, Britney Spears was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, why, that makes Britney Spears *just like Hitler!*. Well, her, and about a billion other Mickey Mouse fans worldwide. Which is the problem with the whole "just like Hitler" thing. Hitler possessed a lot of traits. He was short -- like George W. Bush, or like Jimmy Carter. He was apparently a vegetarian, like approximately a billion other people on the planet. In other words, focusing on a trait that Hitler shares with a billion other people and saying that this makes someone "just like Hitler" is meaningless. Hell, Hitler was a member of Homo Sapiens, both you and I are members of Homo Sapiens, by that standard *we* are "just like Hitler"!

So clearly you have to focus on attributes that are shared between Hitler and only a few other people if you want to play the "just like Hitler" game, which is where the right wing usually falls down -- they usually take someone like Obama, take some trait he shares with a billion other people, and say that makes him "just like Hitler". Obama wants national healthcare! Hitler had national healthcare! (As does every other Western nation). That makes Obama "just like Hitler"! Well, and makes every *other* Western leader for the past 80 years other than U.S. Presidents "just like Hitler" too, which fails the "only a few people" test".

If, on the other hand, you point out that Hitler invaded Poland on a bogus premise of a Polish threat to Germany, and Bush II invaded Iraq on a bogus premise of an Iraqi threat to Germany... there aren't all that many leaders over the past 100 years that have invaded other nations based on a lie. So in that respect, Bush II really *was* just like Hitler. But now you get to the point where the whole game of "Just Like Hitler" shows itself to be utterly useless: In most other ways, Bush II was *not* "Just Like Hitler". For example, Bush II had/has no genocidal urgings, and does not appear to himself be a outright racist. Indeed, one of the few things I genuinely respected about Bush II was when he emphatically made the point, repeatedly, that Muslim-Americans were *Americans* and should not be discriminated against.

The reality, then, is that the game of "Just Like Hitler" simply isn't useful. It is useful to point out when our opponents use tactics commonly associated with the Nazis, such as the Big Lie tactic, or have beliefs commonly associated with the Nazis, such as a belief that white people are superior to brown people or that gays and ethnic minorities should be exterminated. But that doesn't make them "just like Hitler" -- it just makes them evil sons of bitches, yo.

-- Badtux the Brimstone-sniffin' Penguin


  1. Ah G.W. Bush 5'11' (1.80 m for the rest of the world) just saying not short. Anyway the rest of the text I quite agree with. Very tired of this comparison..

  2. Godwin's Law notwithstanding, comparisons with Hitler contribute absolutely nothing to any political conversation whatsoever.

    I detested... make that detest... GeeDubya, but he was NOT just like Hitler.

    I have many complaints about Obama, but there is no significant aspect of him that is just like Hitler.

    I am more concerned about the super-patriots who march around wearing fatigues and carrying rifles, pretending to be some sort of nation-saving militia... but even they are not just like Hitler, though if another Hitler-equivalent shows up, they may flock to follow him.

    Let's forget Hitler (not historically, but personally) and concern ourselves with what people living today actually do and say. If we want to scare ourselves, there are plenty of dangerous SOBs around today to talk about without digging up Hitler.


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