September 15th, 2016

The Hitler comparison

A lot of people consider that nearly any time a person brings up any sort of Hitler comparison, it invalidates the argument.

Just as an example, we had a series of comments on this blog the other day that occurred in the “basket of deplorables” thread. There was a discussion of the nature of the far fringes of the alt-right (the racist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi segment) and its intentions. Commenter Matt_SE wrote:

FOAF Says:

“Is there anyone in the “alt-right” with anywhere near the prominence and stature of Al Sharpton?”

Hitler was nobody before he wasn’t.

As a relatively new movement (wiki dates the term “alt-right” to 2008), it hasn’t had time to develop infamous leaders yet. I’m not sure if Trump is deep enough in the movement to count as one of its leaders.

Then FOAF (who had made the original remark about the alt-right and Sharpton) replied with this reaction to Matt_SE’s comment:

“Hitler was nobody before he wasn’t.”

*Yawn* I was expecting that.

This appears to be sarcasm; note the “yawn.” Hitler comparisons are so cliched and overdone, right?

I’ve noticed this type of thing many times online in many venues. But if people can’t make comparison to the Nazis, or to some aspect of the Nazis (in this case, how well and how early their rise foretold their final goals), then we may as well throw history away and learn nothing from it. There’s a famous saying of George Santayana’s that those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. That’s often true (alas), as far as it goes. But I would expand the saying to add that those who can remember the past and who refuse to engage substantively with arguments that offer analogies of the past to the present may be inadvertantly condemning themselves and others to repeat it.

Note that I’m not saying Matt_SE is correct in his analogy, nor am I saying he’s incorrect. I’m not even getting into the substantive argument in this post, except to say that I think he made a possibly valid and definitely interesting point that would benefit from debate.

And FOAF, please don’t think I’m picking on you, although it may seem that way. But that yawn stands for the way many many arguments I’ve seen online and in person often go, and it’s an approach that has become accepted and common and threatens to scotch discussion of an important part of human history: how can we recognize evil when it occurs, separate out the important from the unimportant, and know how and when to respond to it? This is the opposite of a trivial question; it’s a vital one. It’s not really about Hitler, and to have the discussion it is not required that a person or a group be exactly like Hitler or even mostly like Hitler, the comparison is usually about some aspect of Hitler or the Nazis. In this case, it’s about our ability to recognize dangerousness.

I wrote a post some years ago that gets into that issue:

Our wish for the mark of Cain, or cloven hooves, or some other clear sign of evil originates in the fact that it is only by their works that we know them, and by then it can be too late…

But one of the most fundamental errors people make when judging evil is to think we understand it, when we don’t. The fact that Hitler was most definitely a human being leads us to think that if we knew enough facts about him, we could explain the etiology of his evil.

But Hitler’s evil seems to have been much more than the sum of his parts—the illegitimacy, the lousy childhood, the failed art career, the anger at Germany’s WWI defeat. Try as one might—and many have tried—Hitler’s evil can be described and detailed but never understood nor, ultimately, explained…

The other fundamental error people make when judging evil is thinking it is less evil than it actually is, and more amenable to persuasion, argument, or kindness. Because those who do evil are human, we think they are subject to the same fears and doubts, loves and anxieties, concerns and scruples, as the rest of us. Perhaps when they were children they were, although in the cases of sociopaths and psychopaths the notion is that they were born lacking something we tend to call a conscience. At any rate, by the time we know about them, something quite unusual seems to be going on in their psyches.

I think of the example of Stalin who said, on hearing that his son had tried to commit suicide but had only managed to shoot himself in the stomach and live, “He can’t even shoot straight.”

People such as Stalin or Hitler or Ahmadinejad or Saddam Hussein are about power. That is the coin of their realm, and power is their mother tongue, even though they can learn to speak secondary languages in order to give the appearance of reasonableness. Do not forget that it is a facade, and do not believe that you know them…

Shakespeare, who may have understood human nature as well as anyone on earth and could speak about it better than anyone on earth, had something to say about all of this, of course. And so I’ll close with his words:

One can smile and smile and be a villain.

[NOTE: Binging up Godwin’s law is another way in which people try to stop or to ridicule discussions that bring up Hitler or the Nazis. But Godwin’s law is widely misunderstood. It actually states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1.” The Wiki article on Godwin’s law goes on to add:

…[T]here is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress. This principle is itself frequently referred to as Godwin’s law.

Godwin’s law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent’s argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.

That’s pretty much in line with what I’m saying in this post.]

62 Responses to “The Hitler comparison”

  1. Matt_SE Says:

    I recuse myself.

  2. lassitude Says:

    Meanwhile, while conservative Western politicians are constantly smeared as “Hitler” or “Nazis” around the world, there is one worldwide group that actually could evoke several apt comparisons to the Nazis.

    Meanwhile, this group predates Hitler by 1300 years, actually worked with Hitler, and their literature, which has been around almost as long as they have, if anyone outside the group bothered to read it, clearly spells out their hatred for all other “out” groups, promotes violence, and lays out their plan for world domination.

  3. London Trader Says:

    I feel the same way when a comment poster uses “gubmint” or some alternate version of the president’s name. I immediately discount any points made.

    As to the Nazi comparison I think you have it right. Many times the accusation is thrown about inappropriately but there are times when it is apt.

  4. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    London Trailer: I agree.

    Comparing someone, or some movement, or some action, to the Nazis and/or to Hitler does not automatically invalidate the argument. (I’d say that NOTHING automatically invalidates an argument, unless you truly want to use a litmus test to avoid thinking.)

    On the other hand, if person A compares someone to the Nazis, it’s perfectly reasonable for person B to respond: that’s a very high bar of evil you’ve set there… which is a despicable comparison to make if it’s not apt. So please use special care in justifying your argument… because Nazi comparisons are not taken lightly, nor should they be.

  5. Oldflyer Says:

    When someone invokes an insulting comparison to Hitler toward any American politician it brands that individual as ignorant of history as far as I am concerned.

    I is pure fallacy to project the attribute indiscriminately Recognition of evil–even among those who believe in the concept–often comes in retrospect; or at a minimum after a body of heinous actions.

    So, with Hitler. It would take some serious study and research to determine exactly when Hitler first publicly exhibited the traits that would eventually be characterized as evil. But, we know for certain that early on he made statements, and incited actions, that go far beyond anything we hear from any relevant American politician. His followers, either acting on his orders or with his indulgence, committed acts with evil intent. long before the world took notice. There is simply no comparison to any contemporary American.

    Invoking a comparison to Hitler is fallacious, and is rather lazy as well.

  6. Big Maq Says:

    @Neo – THANK YOU!

  7. junior Says:

    RE: Stalin’s comment regarding his son –

    Stalin famously didn’t like his son. I don’t know why that might have been, but the son was apparently an object of open contempt by the father.

    Note that the dislike is pretty much the *only* thing I know about the son.

  8. Big Maq Says:

    The argument about misuse of Godwin’s Law invocation, is similar to the debate about Political Correctness.

    The left certainly have abused the use of PC to shut down all kinds of debate.

    On the flipside, folks are making the mistake in the other direction, using the shield of un-PC commentary to excuse dialogue that is not merely not PC, but far worse.

    How else to explain how trump plays to these “deplorable” groups (certainly not likely 50% of his supporters, but I once would have sworn it wasn’t even 0.1% on the conservative side), and many are seemingly okay with it?

  9. Big Maq Says:

    “Invoking a comparison to Hitler is fallacious, and is rather lazy as well.” – Oldflyer

    Can be, and often has been by the left. Coming from them, every GOP candidate that ever walked this earth are Hitler incarnate.

    We don’t have many historical references to pull from to compare certain aspects of what we may see.

    Matt’s point was not “lazy” but a rather direct one. Few here are recognizing the risk (and the volatility of it) several of us see with trump.

    Several even go so far as to not recognize much downside to trump at all. (While others acknowledge the possibility, but deem it “recoverable” – as if it were just a rough patch in the interim and odds were reasonable that it were so likely.)

    If there is no or little recognizable downside with trump, it begs the question if they’d recognize Hitler (or one could substitute Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc) himself if he was at the fledgling stages of political power.

  10. Big Maq Says:

    “While others acknowledge the possibility”

    Should read “While others acknowledge the possibility of authoritarianism”

  11. neo-neocon Says:

    Oldflyer:

    Do you not believe a tyranny can happen here? It really depends on what the comparison is.

    And by the way, the comparison I was discussing in this thread was not a comparison to any American politician. It was a comparison to the far right white supremacist fringe of the alt-right, people who often support Trump.

    Do you think neo-Nazis should not be compared to Nazis?

  12. sdferr Says:

    Are we (or should we be?) remotely amused (in the comic sense) that today we hear Donald Jr. invokes an image of “warming up the gas chambers”?

    Warming up?

    As though the Nazi death squads were terribly concerned with the temperatures inside the gas chambers? Comfort to the Juden to be annihilated?

    Well, but risible, that, O Donald Jr.!

    Next time, if there must be a next time, think it through only a little before you open your yawp, Junior Donald.

    Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, had no offspring himself.

  13. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I’m unaware of anyone on the alt-r suggesting that non-whites be subjected to a new “final solution”. Expulsion yes but not genocide. That IMO invalidates comparison of the alt-r to the Nazis, at least on the basis of racism.

    However, in the 70’s, Bill Ayers’ Weather Underground group discussed the necessity for such a solution for those “who cling to their guns and bibles”. Leftists like Ayers are of course not racists but instead fanatical ideologues who, given the nature of their ideology… must embrace the genocide of their political opponents. In this, some on the alt-r may well equal the worst on the Left.

    This post leads me to revise my comparison in potential of Trump to Caesar. Both believe(d) that only they can/could save the Republic by ruling it with a strong hand, one little tolerant of dissent. In a worst case scenario, were Trump to emulate Caesar, the worst of the alt-r will predictably view it as support for their basest impulses.

  14. sdferr Says:

    On the subject of parallel lives, and in light of the mention of Caesar — we can recollect Plutarch’s pairing of the great Julius with Alexander the Conqueror. These were men of serious purpose where matters came to empire. Donald Trump and the Americans who follow him come off in any such comparison as quite the dwarves, owing to their preference to throw away what (commercial) empire they may have heretofore possessed. Exceptionalism is so rude, you know.

  15. n.n Says:

    A Pro-Choice quasi-religion, Class diversity (i.e. judging people by the “color of their skin”), progressive wars (i.e. social justice adventurism with an anti-native outlook), selective exclusion (“=”), Planned Parenthood channeling Mengele, and abortion rites in a final solution. All roads lead Left.

  16. n.n Says:

    All roads lead Left. Al road lead to the twilight zone (a.k.a. penumbra).

  17. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    I think it is fair to grant to the Hitler-comparers that they catch some aspect of the rise of the Fascists accurately. Hitler did not come out of complete obscurity, but he was not considered a major player in 1928. There must have indeed been moments of surprise* in the 1930’s when people looked around and asked “Where are we going? And why so many handbaskets?” Yet I think Daniel in Brookline has it right: it’s a high bar to get over to go Full Adolf on that. You need more than 2-3 similarities. Most of us have 2-3 similarities to someone contemptible, after all.

    *As for who saw it coming, the Confessing Church did. See Barmen Declaration, 1934. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmen_Declaration

  18. Frog Says:

    When is a person a neo-Nazi? When a leftist journalist says so. Read this, and tell me what is neo-Nazi about the opponents to Muslim invasion of Germany:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3790605/Mob-100-neo-Nazis-vicious-street-fight-migrants-German-riot-police-pelted-bottles-asylum-seekers-protecting.html

    Note the Muslims provoked the Germans, in whose land they are “guests”, and threw bottles at the police, before retreating to their taxpayer-funded sanctuary, where they were not disturbed by police.

    If you find a definition of neo-Nazi herein, I missed it, so please share your find. “Far Right” is not defined either.

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    sdferr,

    You appear to have asserted that Trump has thrown away his commercial interests. I think just the opposite; Trump, on I suspect a gut level intuites that, if the democrats retain the Presidency, he will eventually lose everything, in a future America that declares that, “he didn’t build that”…

    For all his faults, Trump is an advocate of what is known as, “enlightened self-interest”.

  20. sdferr Says:

    “Appear” must be apt, since I’m referring there to the Americans generally taken (though Trump in the bargain) owing to a prevalent and benign view regarding what we Americans have learned to call “entitlement spending” and the “commercially” ruinous consequences entailed. America will learn to “get along” without such niceties as a sufficient military capability to protect her interests, for one. But then too, America’s great commercial enterprise was founded in liberty, which Americans, it seems, can no longer take seriously.

  21. sdferr Says:

    Just as an aside Geoffrey, I wonder whether you find yourself laughing privately when you refer to “if the democrats retain the Presidency” all the while you and we are aware that Mr. Trump has been both contributing to and praising these same politicians the bulk of his life, even down to his very opponent? Someone may, anyhow.

  22. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Trump’s undeniable historical inconsistency would greatly bother me, if I thought it probable that he is insincere in his current attitudes toward his major issues. But I think him basically sincere because he has identified the major areas that threaten America and, in his rhetoric, strongly opposes them.

    I think he does intend to try to address illegal immigration, stop the importation of Muslim migrants, rebuild the military and lessen the flight of manufacturing jobs from America.

    Not out of some altruistic love of the common man or ethical principles but because he realizes that America cannot survive if those areas are not addressed.

    I perceive him to most likely be an old school liberal. I see his prior contributions and praise as, “the cost of doing business”.

    At this point, I see nothing to be gained by him in pretending to be something he’s not. As he evidences a strong desire to win and trashes Hillary frequently, I do not think he’s a democrat plant intending to throw the election to the democrats. Nor, do I think him simply a political opportunist latching on to the current populist theme.

  23. Oldflyer Says:

    Neo, certainly I believe that a tyranny can happen here. I just did some reading about the tyranny of Lincoln, and the tyranny of FDR, for instance. The significant difference between them and traditional tyranny is that they were prepared to relinquish power when their terms were completed–as far as we know. In the case of FDR that may be debatable.

    My point was that it is fallacious to project a proclivity for tyranny–or evil–on any of the current candidates. More authoritarian than we would like? Possibly, perhaps even probably. But that is a sea change from tyranny or evil as manifested by the likes of Hitler.

    I noted the term Alt-right and have said before, that I don’t recognize label as particularly useful. As far as I am concerned it is another trendy label that has become convenient to use as a pejorative description for certain people to apply to other people with different beliefs. Perhaps it is my imagination, but it seems as though when “minorities” organize to protect their rights and privileges they are activists=good. When whites don’t move in lock-step with the herd, they are Alt-right=bad. They used to be called independent individuals. But, there are other convenient terms of reference are “white supremacists” or “skin heads”. And the old standby “racists”.

  24. parker Says:

    GB@5:29,

    “… insincere in his current attitudes…” Pardon me for being sincere in believing djt is insincere in his current attitudes. What basis, other than his back and forth blather and 360 degree pivots, makes you embrace his sincerity? National Enquirering and infowars minds are listening.

  25. Mayan Says:

    There is also a tendency to focus only upon a (potential) leader, especially when making these comparisons.

    These things are like fire. They require more than just an ignition source, or leader. They require a public that brings enough prejudice, hate, and frustration to burn, and a political system and current circumstances that feed the conflagration with oxygen.

    In Europe, there was centuries of anti-semitism and other hatreds festering under the surface. They bubbled to the top at times, then settled, but they never went away.

    Add onto that the unfinished nature of WW1, economic crisis, supine leadership of other nations, charlatans given bigotry a veneer of scientific respectability and so forth, and maybe after all of that coming together, it took only someone to set it alight.

    So, whatever Trump may or may not be (and I think there is a lot to worry about), one has to ask whether there are enough people out there with enough anger and contempt for the status quo. The other part is whether the other players are too milquetoast to resist, whether the safeguards in the system might break down, and whether any external party could intervene.

    Given the geographical isolation of the US, there is no chance of an outside force intervening to stop something before it started, and certainly none with the ability to help extinguish it.

  26. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    parker,

    Let’s examine what I said.
    “Trump’s undeniable historical inconsistency would greatly bother me, if I thought it probable that he is insincere in his current attitudes toward his major issues.”

    Probable being the key word. We can’t know but I judge it to be less probable than more. I think it more probable because… “he has identified the major areas that threaten America and, in his rhetoric, strongly opposes them.”

    I take him to probably be sincere given that no other Republican candidate has spoken so forcefully and unequivocally about these issues. I just don’t buy the idea that his political acumen is so acute that he identified and then seized upon a populist position but which actually doesn’t resonate with his personal POV.

    That he’s ‘modified’ his position is to be expected given the exaggerations the democrats engage in and that the mass media reinforce in the public’s mind.

    A ‘modified’ stance BTW that any other republican nominee would also have had to do in the general election period.

    So, while I acknowledge that perhaps he’s not sincere, I judge the likelihood to weigh more on the side of sincerity, rather than insincerity. As, if he’s insincere and elected… the people who today most support him will turn on him if he betrays them and those he would then please with his betrayal will never trust him, since he will have proven himself to be untrustworthy.

    So under those circumstances, where’s the upside for him in betraying what he says he believes in today? And, strictly from the pov of self-interest, if there’s no upside, why engage in behavior that if insincere, must eventually emerge?

    Trump wants to go down as a great President, not as a failure.

  27. parker Says:

    GB,

    Well, golly gee, bho wants to go down as a great president as does hrc. The upside is not (IMO) on the donald’s horizon event. The donald is all about the donald. He cares not about America great again. He saw an opportunity to ride the border crash and the failed recovery summer, plus the fatigue with the failures in the ME. Vultures recognize carrior. Trump is a vulture.

    I recognize you think otherwise, and that you come to your conclusion after much thought. I respect that. But the evidence is (IMO) lacking.

  28. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    parker,

    I’m confident that you’ve given this a lot of thought as well. bho will go down as a great president in the minds of his supporters, which is the only audience whose opinion he values. If elected, hrc will, for the same reasons be seen as significant.

    But if elected, the only way Trump is seen as great is if he delivers. If Trump does not “make America great again” i.e. lead America back to greatness… he will be seen as a failure and IMO, a powerful motivator for Trump is avoiding the perception of being a failure.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree that Trump is simply a political opportunist, whose political acumen is so accomplished that he foresaw, from the start and long before anyone else, the themes that would bring him the nomination.

    It is eagles, falcons and hawks that possess exceptional sight, whereas vulture’s eyesight is decidedly poorer 😉

  29. OM Says:

    “he has identified the major areas that threaten America and, in his rhetoric, strongly opposes them.”

    Like the American national debt and insolvency? Oh he hasn’t talked about that one.

    He certainly talks a good game, except when he says the opposite.

    How are you liking the great new entitlement, Trump maternity plan, “Make America Bankrupt Again!” (already going there, but faster with The Donald). /s

    “But lets not quibble about who killed who, this is supposed to be a happy occasion!” cue Monty Python Sir Lancelot skit.

  30. OM Says:

    No Tump has a better sense of smell

    http://insider.si.edu/2013/11/study-shows-turkey-vulture-doubly-blessed-with-acute-vision-and-sense-of-smell/

    Still an opportunistic scavenger.

    BTW, Bald Eagles eat a lot of spawned-out salmon, which we have a lot of up on the Columbia Reach in the fall and winter.

  31. Richard Aubrey Says:

    If the gems had put up somebody better–not that they have anyone better in sight–DJT wouldn’t be the lesser of two jerks.
    DJT, at worst, is all about DJT. The democrats are all about complete control. Cincinnati’s would never had made the democrat cut.

  32. Richard Aubrey Says:

    CRAP!!!!! “gems” =Democrats

  33. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Cincinnati’s is supposed to be that Roman dictator who went home. Sounds something like the city……

  34. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    OM,

    OK, you got me. I have to agree he’s not perfect. How dare he leave out American’s spendthrift ways and love of entitlements. And I’d confess to his being a liberal, except oh wait! I’ve never said otherwise.

    So, we have a social liberal who wishes America to return to doing well, even if for selfish reasons versus a woman who is committed to completing America’s fundamental transformation…

    Tough choice! Not.

    “Opportunistic scavengers” feed from the dead and dying. Are you claiming that to be true of America?

    Interesting article, if you’re into waste management. But it does confirm that Turkey vultures, who search from low altitudes have poorer eyesight, when compared to raptors.

    Yes, bald eagles are scavengers as well but an exception does not invalidate a categorical truth.

  35. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Richard,

    You almost had it right with ‘germs’ but its Cincinnatus. Arguably next to Cicero, the greatest Roman who ever lived.
    FWIW, the city of Cincinnati was named in honor of the “Society of the Cincinnati” which drew its inspiration and name from… you guessed it, the example that Cincinnatus set.
    One that Washington emulated millenia later.

  36. J.J. Says:

    Here’s a thought: “Hitler? Be more worried that Trump will turn out to be more like that other Austrian.” (H/T Kathy Shaidle)

    Know who he is? Another narcissistic, non-politician that, after being elected, failed to turn things around in California. He is best known for the statement: “I’ll be back!”

  37. Bill Says:

    GB: “But if elected, the only way Trump is seen as great is if he delivers. If Trump does not “make America great again” i.e. lead America back to greatness… he will be seen as a failure and IMO, a powerful motivator for Trump is avoiding the perception of being a failure.”

    One somewhat neglected aspect of this election season – we’re fixated on the candidate’s ideas, not their ability to get those ideas implemented.

    Of course no president wants to fail. Can they get it done?

    Trump actually has changed his positions, drastically, a number of time. It’s kind of funny to see formerly conservative pundits cheer his every move, including Putin-snuggling, amnesty talk, paid maternity leave, medicare expansion, etc. Anytime Obama or HRC suggested things like that (in their defense, they’ve neither of them been as man-crushed on Putin as Trump is) the pundits would roar in indignation. None of this is about ideology. It’s about will to power. The mast is off.

    The idea that his followers will turn on him the minute it looks like he won’t build the wall or fulfill any of his other promises is laughable on its face. People (all of us) don’t really think rationally, though we think we do. If he’s your (that’s generic “your”) guy, he’ll be your guy throughout. Most people engage in heavy confirmation bias day by day. It’s easier than admitting we were wrong. Positions harden. Expecting the nation to be filled with rational people is a mistake, imo.

    BTW, America’s already great. Especially compared to what it will be when Trump’s done with it, in 4 or 8 years. My opinion, of course.

  38. Bill Says:

    In my blathering and mis-speliings above I forgot my main point. Just because Trump wants to make America great again doesn’t mean he can. I don’t think he’s really got the skills to govern. He is great at campaigning – what he’s done this year has been remarkable – he’s entirely changed the GOP and chased people like me out of it. I think even if he loses it will never be the same.

    But can he govern? Will his ideas work? Does he have the ability to get them through congress? Will charging companies 35% on their products if made overseas work? Will mandating paid maternity leave work? Will getting out of our trade partnerships, which will result in more expensive parts and labor here, work? Will people enjoy paying $1,000 for an iphone? Will the debt explode or will he really pay it off in 8 years? Will more healthcare mandates lower premiums and increase coverage? Will any of this work?

    I’m going to say that he won’t be very good at governing and in a best case he won’t be able to do much except what he’s best at, which is talking. In that case maybe we’ll be spared a worse disaster.

  39. OM Says:

    GB:

    “Categorical truths,” large overarching truths, that’s your bailiwick, not mine.

    “Interesting article, if you’re into waste management.” Do you know anything about ecology or biology, or the reason vultures are protected? They serve essential roles in the natural world.

    Not sure what role Trump serves, and BTW you started the avian thread. Trump’s no noble “raptor,” who will lift us up on eagle’s wings (that’s a reference to a hymn).

  40. OM Says:

    GB:

    Don’t actual reading ( and comprehension) get in the way of your points: GB says: “Turkey vultures, who search from low altitudes…”

    Whereas the cited article said of turkey vultures –
    ““They track plumes of odor from decaying animals while gliding high up in the air column and home in on it by flying in circles,” Yes that’s what I’ve seen them doing, what would I know?

    Turkey vultures, are they searching from high up in the air column or searching at low altitudes. Whom to believe? A conundrum. /s

  41. Dennis Says:

    I realize that I’m late to this discussion but I want to take on Neo’s point substantively.

    I agree with Neo that it is important to remember history and the evil which sociopaths are capable of inflicting on their fellow men. Since Hitler is part of that history, of course we should consider him whenever we approach a novel situation. There is danger in arguing from an analogy because analogies can not produce logical necessity unless the present circumstances are exactly the same as those which existed in the past – which they never are. My parents liked to quote the saying that “history never repeats itself but it does rhyme. Comparisons to Hitler shouldn’t be automatically invalidated but they are usually very weak or even misleading.

    There is a problem with analogies to Hitler beyond the weakness of analogies in general because secular man has rejected the traditional standards of right and wrong. To them mass murder is OK if it is done by the right people for the right reasons – IE the leftist icon Che Guevara or even Mao Tse-Tung. Thus when secular man really hate someone or something and want to make a moral point they have no objective standard with which to to substantiate their moral claim.

    The left, who have stepped into the void to become the modern arbiters of morality have invented their own crude mile posts of morality. Since they have rejected the traditional objective standards they have had to invent some subjective emotive standards which they recognize as evil even if they can not explain why those things are evil. These new evils are not universal evils but are subject to change at the whims of the trend setters on the left. The present evils include white racists, white colonialists, right wingers, Western white male sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes and some pedophiles. Among historical figures Hitler is their unique personification of evil – the devil if you please. Anti-Semitism used to be among the lefts list of evils but has largely dropped off the list.

    So what does that have to do with the Hitler analogies? Just this – since their yardstick for measuring evil so so crude anyone modern secularists dislike intensely becomes Hitler whether the points of comparison are valid or not. In this respect Hitler has indeed become a cliche and most arguments using Hitler are invalid.

    In the case of Trump there is no evidence that he is especially racist or that he subscribes to any racial supremacy theories. Therefore analogies to Hitler are very weak. There are many other totalitarian leaders who Trump resembles more closely than Hitler and who would make better analogies if secularists could recognize them for what they are.

  42. neo-neocon Says:

    Dennis:

    As I’ve said several times now, it depends what the analogy is about.

    For example, Hitler came to power through Democratic means (although he actually was appointed) and then essentially got the legislature to do away with its own power, becoming a dictator. How that happened I’ve written about in other posts, but the point is that someone could make an analogy to how he came to power and be warning about how easily a democratic process can be undermined if certain elements are present.

    That does NOT mean that that other tyrant who might come to power that way need resemble Hitler in all ways or is planning to kill millions of people in death camps. That’s not what the analogy is being used for in that instance. Any analogy to Hitler does not mean equivalence with all or even most aspects of Hitler. It is an analogy to some aspect of Hitler, and a warning about the danger of that aspect.

    Nor did anyone on this blog—including the people whose quotes I used in this post—say that Trump is analogous to Hitler. The analogy was about a group of people who are among his supporters and are white supremacists and/or neo-Nazis, not about Trump himself. So (at least regarding this blog and its commenters), your statement that “In the case of Trump there is no evidence that he is especially racist or that he subscribes to any racial supremacy theories; therefore analogies to Hitler are very weak” is irrelevant because that was not being said about Trump in the first place.

    Every analogy with Hitler stands or falls on its own merits and must be looked at that way. There is no reason for a general prohibition on or generalized debunking of such analogies.

  43. Dennis Says:

    Neo said:

    “…but the point is that someone could make an analogy to how he came to power and be warning about how easily a democratic process can be undermined if certain elements are present.”

    Your point is valid. I’m not sure I would consider your example an argument by analogy since Hitler demonstrated that the democratic process absolutely can be undermined. At this point, you are not asking us to make any assumptions based on assumed similarities between Trump and Hitler. From history, we know that sociopaths can short circuit the democratic process. Erdogan is the latest example of this very point that an unscrupulous politician who has done that very thing. Your reference to Hitler does not in any way indicate whether Trump will or will not follow this path.

  44. tatterdemalian Says:

    Hitler had a Nazi propaganda machine constantly praising him and condemning his opponents.

    If anything, Hillary Clinton is more like Hitler than Trump. Especially since Obama’s crony capitalism is almost identical to Mussolini’s fascism.

  45. Chris Says:

    The clarification you make in the comments that you are comparing Hitler with some of Trump’s supporters, verses Trump himself, is significant.

    Hitler was in another league altogether from Trump, spiritually. He was deeply involved in the occult, so even his racial supremacy views were only part of a spirituality that gave his beliefs, and Hitler himself, the surprising power that he exerted over people.

  46. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bill,

    Of course no President wants to be seen as a failure. That in no way invalidates that being an exceptionally powerful motivator for an egotist like Trump. I contrasted that with Obama and Hillary who the left will always assert to have been successful simply because of race and gender.

    I didn’t say that, “his followers will turn on him the minute it looks like he won’t build the wall”. I said if they become convinced that he’s betrayed him, they’ll turn on him.

    Yes Trump is a social liberal but he’s not a leftist and there is a profound difference between a leftist and a liberal. Yes he’s modified his positions. What politician has failed to modify the positions they advocated in the primaries, once they got to the general election?

    That he’s not a leftist bent on fundamentally transforming America, definitively resolves the choice. You’re demanding perfection making it the enemy of good enough (when compared to Hillary).

    I agree and have said many times that I don’t see how Trump can Constitutionally accomplish what he promises. To do so, he’d have to act as a Caesar.

    But… achieving a small fraction of what he promises is far better than where America will be under another Leftist President.

  47. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    J.J.,

    I was living in California when Schwarzenegger was Governor. I was paying attention. He tried to bring fiscal sanity to the State. He went to the people, using the state’s proposition process. The Teacher, Police and Fire Unions literally crucified him in a massive, incessant TV ad campaign. He lost in a landslide.

    It’s one thing to ask a man to tilt at windmills, entirely another to ask him to continue to piss into the wind. He’s gotten a bum rap.

  48. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    OM,

    “Do you know anything about ecology or biology, or the reason vultures are protected? They serve essential roles in the natural world.”

    A bit. Rhetorical question; what does that have to do with the comparitive acuity between vultures and raptors? NOTHING.

    I see it’s strawman time again.

    I NEVER claimed that Trump’s a “noble “raptor,”. I brought up the raptor example in pointing out to parker that for Trump to be simply a vulture (and he first used the term) he had to have a degree of political acumen that human vultures do not possess. parker posits that Trump is an ignorant opportunist, while also ignoring that he would have had to foresee with exceptional acumen the themes that would catapult him into the nomination.

    It is you whose reading comprehension is lacking. The article did indeed state that, “They track plumes of odor from decaying animals while gliding high up in the air column and home in on it by flying in circles,” but they are referring to black vultures. who fly at high altitudes compared to Turkey vultures who typically fly at much lower altitudes. The entire article is a comparison between black and turkey vultures. While both have vision superior to humans, it is their smell upon which they most rely.

  49. Rich Says:

    “those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    And (I don’t remember where I read this) those who DO remember the past will repeat it anyway, because there’s always some bonehead out there who doesn’t.

    Especially now that the education industry has stopped teaching it.

  50. Tatterdemalian Says:

    There have been a lot of clever statements about the past and the effects of rewriting it.

    In my opinion, the primary effect of erasing history is to deprive us of the ability to plan for the future. You can’t tell which direction you’re headed unless you can remember which direction you came from.Altering history has the even more sinister effect of tricking us into thinking we’re on a different trajectory than we are actually on, with the purpose of making the public move in a direction our better judgement, or even our survival instincts, would normally have us avoid.

  51. Bill Says:

    GB:You’re demanding perfection making it the enemy of good enough (when compared to Hillary).”

    No I’m not.

    I’m a conservative and Trump is an authoritarian statist who has displayed exceptional skill at media manipulation and demagoguery, to the point where he has many of the “leading lights” of the GOP defending Putin, extolling the benefits of government paid maternity leavE among other things. So, I don’t think he’s Hitler, but he’s sold the GOP on Nationalism and he’s in the process of selling them on Socialism. So the GOP is on track to become the Nationalist-Socialist party, make of that what you will. I don’t expect perfection, but neither he nor HRC clear the very minimum bar to get my inconsequential vote. Neither are “good enough”

  52. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bill,

    “many of the “leading lights” of the GOP defend illegal immigration and just voted for a fourfold increase in Muslim migration. They do quite well on that score without Trump’s ‘leadership’.

    But let’s say he is all that you claim, what’s the alternative? NOT anyone else but a leftist like Hillary. So again, it comes down to whether you believe us to be approaching a precipice from which America cannot survive.

  53. Bill Says:

    GB,

    if anyone’s more likely to take us over a precipice, it’s Trump, in my opinion.

    I’ll take HRC over Trump if I must, for about 1,000 reasons I’ve spelled out elsewhere in neo’s comment threads.

  54. neo-neocon Says:

    Rich:

    Maybe it was here?

  55. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I do not think that word “literally” means what you think it does.

    When last I checked, Schwarzenegger was still walking around, rather hale and hearty.

  56. FOAF Says:

    No problem with you “picking” on me, neo. Actually I enjoy it because I have a lot of respect for you (unlike Matt for whom I have no respect whatsoever). As far as my “Godwin” comment goes, as I said at the time the actual comparison was wildly more ridiculous – Freddie Kreuger and Hannibal Lecter. I stand 100% by my intended implication that this has no relevance whatsoever to the 2016 Presidential race.

    As for “Hitler was nobody before he was somebody” yes that is true. But 99.999% of nobodies die that way. Recently HotAir linked to an article about an alleged “coming out” press conference for the “alt-right”. It consisted of three figures had barely heard of. The one I thought was most familiar, Richard Spencer, I realized I confused with the anti-Islamist blogger Robert Spencer who AFAIK has no connection to the alt-right. In short nobody with the “stature” of Sharpton, or for that matter David Duke or Pat Buchanan who we have managed to live with for many years. The Internet enables tiny fringe groups to sound very loud. I am Jewish and very sensitive to anti-semitism but still have yet to see evidence the alt-right, at least as defined by virulent racism, is a significant threat.

  57. Bill Says:

    “…but still have yet to see evidence the alt-right, at least as defined by virulent racism, is a significant threat.”

    Wsit until the candidate they vigorously supported (an who’s campaign they staffed) wins…

    Trump is the alt-right.

  58. OM Says:

    GB:

    When you make a snide response to the article’s discussion regarding vulture’s vision and sense of smell as interesting if one is interested in “waste management” that indicated you don’t know as much as you project.

    And of course you (the scarecrow) cry “Strawman.”

    You got the Turkey Vulture Black Vulture bit wrong as well.

    http://adirondackwildlife.org/TurkeyVulture.html

    Pathetic, GB. Puff up and strut some more.

  59. J.J. Says:

    G,B., I’m well aware of the difficulties that Ahnold faced. I fully expect that a President Trump would face fierce opposition as well. Trump, in spite of his intentions might (actually, probably will) fail. That is much more of a concern to me than authoritarianism.

    If Trump learns to out maneuver the Harry Reids, the Nancy Pelosis, the bureaucrats, and the government unions, then he might succeed. My hope is that he can at least secure the border. The laws are already in place, the fence is authorized, and all he needs to do is beef up the Border patrol, continue building the fence, and start enforcing the law. No help from Congress needed. He can also reduce the EPA’s regulations and open government lands for oil exploration without legislative authority. The Keystone XL pipeline has already passed Congress. All he has to do is request they send it back up for his signature. So, there are a number of things he can actually do without much support from Congress. But that is peering too far into the future.

    If a President Trump began co-opting the military and attempted to establish a Gestapo-like entity, then I would begin to worry.

  60. Frog Says:

    Speaking of Nazis, kindly see who in Germany is calling the opponents of Islamic migration Nazis: the migrants.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/tensions-rising-in-germany/article/2004386
    In other sources I have seen the “right wing” Germans referred to as neo-Nazis.

  61. Big Maq Says:

    “But… achieving a small fraction of what he promises is far better than where America will be under another Leftist President.” – GB

    Depends on which fraction you are talking about and which day it is, as trump changes faster than the wind.

    Frankly, it seems that there is as strong a case to make that he will move us faster to the left than even clinton, and, no matter the case, it sure looks like he will be expanding government significantly, and, much more likely than not, expanding executive power.

    So, notwithstanding any authoritarian possibilities, and the volatile risks that his temperament could lead us to immediate catastrophe, he may well leave the office of the President in a far stronger position for a leftist takeover in 2020.

    So, for what little possible short term upside, we take on big downside risks near and long term.

    “Far better” is certainly in the eye of the beholder, as mentioned in the past, some don’t see or are concerned with the downside risk, even if that somewhat overlaps or out does the risk with clinton.

  62. Big Maq Says:

    Alert! Another hitler comparison…
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/09/20/a_frightening_precedent_for_trumps_disregard_of_the_truth_131827.html

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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