The decade between the middle 1930s and the middle 1940s was a uniquely evil era in the history of humanity. During World War II, Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Chancellor Adolf Hitler, pursued a war of aggression against all of Europe and the Middle East. However, it also sought the world’s first systematic governmental genocide of all members of certain ethnic and religious peoples, collectively referred to as the Holocaust. Nazi Germany systematically exterminated approximately six million Jews, including a million Jewish children. In fact, many of the people labeled as Jews and murdered wholesale by Nazi Germany may not have been practicing Jews. According to Germany’s race purity laws, even a single Jewish grandparent was sufficient to condemn every member of the ensuing three generations to the gas chambers. Nazi Germany also sought to eliminate other people whom it considered to be impure, inferior, defective, and a burden to society, including the mentally and physically handicapped, Gypsies, gays and lesbians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, Poles, Ukranians, Slavs, and various political dissidents.
World War II ended more than seven decades ago. The number of people who survived the Holocaust’s systematic genocide dwindles due to old age and infirmity. Nevertheless, the Holocaust and the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and his henchmen are still remembered by many people and continue to be invoked by them as an example of the ultimate evil. On the one hand, it is good for knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust to remain in the world’s consciousness. Such visceral knowledge of the darkest chapter in human history is essential to help dissuade governments and people from ignoring the harsh lessons of history and repeating the same ruinous mistakes.
On the other hand, over-invocation of Adolf Hitler, Nazism, and the Holocaust has a marked tendency to desensitize. When the words “Hitler”, “Nazi” or “Holocaust” are overused in hyperbole to refer to mundane and far less consequential people and circumstances, the deeper lessons of the Holocaust are trivialized. One may vehemently disagree with a police officer’s decision to stop one’s vehicle for speeding or for some other traffic violation. The police officer, however, is not a Nazi and should not be compared to one. The police officer did not participate in the cold-blooded execution of millions of innocent men, women, and children. The city council member who advocates cutting costs by eliminating certain bus routes that serve the working poor or the elderly is not Adolf Hitler for the same reasons. When scores of people die due to an accidental fire in an apartment building or a discotheque, this does not constitute a holocaust. Likewise, contrary to the 1990s situational comedy television program Seinfeld, starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a supercilious business proprietor who sells his soup in a grating, punctilious manner should not be called a “Soup Nazi”. Notwithstanding the hyperbole of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to the contrary, human consumption of animal protein is not a Holocaust.
David Harsanyi’s excellent opinion piece in the February 17, 2017 edition of The Federalist, titled “Stop Belittling the Holocaust With Your Stupid Nazi Analogies” (http://bit.ly/2kQKWDf), is respectfully reproduced below. It capably argues that comparisons to Nazism of every position with which the arguer vehemently disagrees trivializes the Holocaust. His points are very well made for the reasons stated.
During Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency of the United States as well as following his election and inauguration, he has been vilified by the left as a “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, “antisemite”, “white supremacist”, “Nazi”, “Hitler”, “fascist”, and an endless stream of similar venomous invectives. Although President Trump and, previously, presidential candidate Trump has engaged in over-the-top bombast and sharp rhetoric, it should be recalled that Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008 were subjected to the same scathing epithets. Although we here at The Cassandra Times were not fans of Governor Romney, Senator McCain, or former Republican Presidents George Walker Bush or his father George Herbert Walker Bush, the same hyperbole was also used to impugn them despite their far more moderate language than President Trump. Despite his sunny personality and affable discourse, President Ronald Reagan was also subjected to all of the above forms of opprobrium by the rabid left.
The left uses the words “Nazi”, “Hitler”, “Holocaust”, as well as “fascist”, “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, “antisemite”, and the like to transition any debate of the issues or of public policy into an ad hominem personal attack upon any opponent. This approach is not random, but, instead, follows radical agitator and thinker Saul Alinsky’s formula, stated in his 1971 manual “Rules For Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals”.
Saul Alinsky’s thirteenth rule for radicals is to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”. He instructs that “In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out and “frozen”. “Frozen” means isolating the “target upon which to center the attacks”, preventing the target from shifting or diffusing responsibility, and “pin the target securely”. The target must be a personalized, meaning a specific person, “not something general and abstract such as a community’s segregated practices or a major corporation or City Hall”. This is because “It is not possible to develop the necessary hostility against, say, City Hall, which after all is a concrete, physical, inanimate structure. . . .” He then states that “all issues must be polarized if action is to follow” and
“one acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other. A leader may struggle toward a decision and weigh the merits and demerits of a situation which is 52 percent positive and 48 percent negative, but once the decision is reached he must assume that his cause is 100 per cent positive and the opposition 100 per cent negative.”
Alinsky continues that this polarizing approach must be taken even if the target
“wasn’t a 100 per cent devil, [but] he was a regular churchgoer, he was a good family man, he was generous in his contributions to charity. Can you imagine in the arena of conflict charging that so-and-so is a racist bastard and then diluting the impact of the attack with qualifying remarks such as ‘He is a good churchgoing man, generous to charity, and a good husband’? This becomes political idiocy.”
Under Alinsky’s polarization principle, it matters nothing what a candidate actually says or does, it is entirely sufficient for a candidate to have the word “Republican” or the elephant logo next to his name and he or she will be the recipient of every vicious accusation imaginable. If the worst possible accusation under this principle is to be called a “Hitler”, a “Nazi”, and a “racist”, it is an absolute certainty that the Republican candidate will be accused of the same.
A reasonable, mild-mannered Republican without an oversized ego and the hide of a rhinoceros stands no chance against Alinsky’s polarization technique. A case in point is former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who, despite a gargantuan campaign chest, wilted after being taunted by Donald Trump in the Republican primaries for having “low energy”. Governor Bush would not have lasted five minutes in the arena with Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. She, along with President Barack Obama, was one of Saul Alinsky’s foremost disciples and she would have gladly wiped the floor with the effete Jeb Bush.
Moreover, the left uses the accusations of being a “Hitler”, a “Nazi”, and a “racist” as an effective argument ender. It is the equivalent of resorting to the “nuclear option”. In 1964, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson ran against Republican challenger Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. During the election season, President Johnson’s campaign ran a television ad which depicted a little girl innocently picking a daisy’s petals with the following scene being the mushroom cloud of a nuclear bomb. The portrayal of Senator Goldwater in the starkest terms possible as the most existentially dangerous extremist resulted in President Johnson winning in a huge landslide. The left always seeks this quick and easy knockout punch.
Electronic Frontier Foundation’s attorney Michael Godwin is credited with “Godwin’s Law”, his 1990 observation that, if an online discussion goes on long enough, irrespective of topic, the probability of someone comparing someone else or someone else’s idea to Adolf Hitler and to Nazism approaches 1, namely an absolute certainty. The same observation can be extended to discussions about any topic — not necessarily online — of politics, ideology, religion, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, sports, and basically anything under the sun. The absolute certainty that a person will be called a “Hitler” or a “Nazi” is dependent solely upon the very predictable impatience of subjectivists to resort to the rhetorical nuclear bomb to end all arguments once he or she perceives that the opponent’s logic, reason, and merits are about to prevail.
Leftist subjectivists have little capacity to distinguish the inner world of their subjective fears and desires from the outer objective world of physical fact. It is pointless to argue with them that Donald Trump cannot possibly be Adolf Hitler, a Nazi or an antisemite, who is seeking to round up people into concentration camps and to exterminate them. They will not consider that Donald Trump’s own daughter Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism, that she married orthodox Jew Jared Kushner, and that her children — who are Donald Trump’s grandchildren — are fully Jewish. They will not fathom that the proliferation of graffiti containing the juxtaposition of the name “Donald Trump” and Nazi swastikas is truly the hateful work of their fellow leftist subjectivists who seek to foment an atmosphere of fear by falsely blaming Donald Trump and his supporters for antisemitism by means of what should be obvious to all as “false flag” operations. When leftist subjectivists are caught perpetrating a self-created hoax in order to blame others, their ever-present excuse is that they wished to create a useful narrative or a “teachable moment” for others. To leftists, the ends always justify any means.
The best weapons against leftist subjectivists are sunlight and ridicule. Their stealthy machinations and tactics must be exposed to the public eye to garner well-deserved scorn and ridicule.
Stop Belittling the Holocaust With Your Stupid Nazi Analogies
February 17, 2017
When the Associated Press dropped a breathless piece contending that the Trump administration was “considering” and “weighing” using 100,000 National Guard troops to help round up illegal immigrants, all the usual hysterics erupted. Soon, the White House denied it had ever considered the memo (and so far there is no reason to believe they are lying). Then we learned the memo itself doesn’t even say anything about “100,000 National Guardsmen” rounding up illegal immigrants. Now, we can theorize about who leaked the story, but it looks to be the epitome of Donald Trump’s Yogi Berraism about a real story being fake news.
Anyway, none of this stopped the shameful Hitler and Nazi analogies from immediately clogging up social media. Comparing everything to 1932 is now a big part of our national discourse. People who should know better habitually make correlations.
This isn’t “Springtime for Hitler.” These gross equivalences belittle the memory of millions who died in unimaginably horrifying ways. Moreover, exaggeration and historical illiteracy undermines the very cause these people claim to care about, unless that cause is desensitizing people to the terror of the Holocaust.
First, they came for the undocumented. https://t.co/8sTCgi7eXW
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 17, 2017
Jamil Smith, a writer for Rolling Stone, was just one of the high-profile journalists to use this intellectually lazy analogy. “First, they came for the undocumented,” he tweeted. (In the next tweet about the memo draft, he contends, “Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter,” which is emblematic of much punditry today.) He is, of course referring to Martin Niemöller’s famous poem:
First they came for the Socialists [sometimes written as communists], and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
People love to use the poem as a cudgel against anyone who fails to match their own hyperbole on pet political issues. Implied, of course, is that those who do not share their outrage are ignoring an event that is in some ways akin to the Holocaust. It’s a convenient formulation, because, after all, you’d be hard-pressed to disprove events that haven’t yet transpired. And if, for some reason, Trump’s term doesn’t actually turn into a Hitlerian nightmare, then they’ll tell you it was because they took Niemöller’s warning to heart and stopped the impending evil.
First of all, even if the authorities — even if the National Guard (which I think would be an incredibly horrible idea) — were to start deporting illegal immigrants, not one of those unfortunate people would ever be sent to anything resembling the ovens of Treblinka and Auschwitz. Not their children. Not anyone else in this country. Most often, in fact, deported illegal immigrants are going back to Mexico, where they can apply for legal entry into the United States. Every year, more than a million people become American citizens. So we are hardly in the early staging plans of “total measures.” In fact, we function under immigration laws that were written by representatives of the electorate, and the constitutionality of those laws are determined by the judicial system.
If your argument is that all deportations are, in and of themselves, the actions of a proto-Nazi regime, then I would ask: why aren’t you comparing Barack Obama, who deported 2.4 million people from 2009-2014
2014 alone, to Himmler? Or I would say stop appropriating the horrors of history for short-term political gain and come up with a better analogy.