Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hitler comparisons not just for Tea Parties anymore

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 3:43 PM

We've all grown used to hearing Tea Party nutjobs name-check Hitler and Stalin when talking about Pres. Obama and throw around words like "tyranny" and "socialism" in describing administration policies. And it's become increasingly common for conservative political candidates to borrow some of this overblown rhetoric while stumping for right-wing votes.

But how about we declare a moratorium on Hitler comparisons among people who should know better, such as big-time syndicated newspaper columnists. Yesterday, conservative columnist "Uncle" Thomas Sowell — who often uses his space to offer reasons why blacks shouldn't be embarrassed to belong to the GOP — began his piece thusly:

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.

What event was the Harvard/Columbia/University of Chicago-educated economist and former UCLA professor comparing to Der Fuhrer's pre-war power grab? That would be Obama's successful effort to force BP to establish a $20 billion fund to help victims of the Gulf oil spill.

Apparently, anyone who doesn't recognize Obama's action as the democracy-shattering corporate shake-down that it was counts as a "useful idiot" — a term Sowell credits to Lenin.

Later, he continues his history lesson/comparison:

During the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people." That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

In other words, people, if you follow the analogy, the BP relief fund is merely the latest step in a downward spiral that could lead to the destruction of American democracy. Could it be that I'm misreading or distorting Sowell's message here? I suppose it's possible, but his column is headlined, "Degeneration of Democracy," after all.

Here's an idea: Unless a politician or public official actually grows a toothbrush mustache, starts goosestepping or invades Poland, let's agree that newspaper columnists will not be allowed to drop the H-bomb by making a Hitler comparison.

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