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Declaring a cease-fire on Hitler analogies

Dana Milbank's interesting analysis of Glenn Beck's obsession with Nazism leads me to make a proposal for improving our increasingly degraded national political discussion: Stop equating our ideological opponents with famous dictators, their chief executioners, police apparatus or ideologies.

I'm all for learning from history, but times are hard enough in American politics -- with war, economic pain, the greatest divide between rich and poor in modern history and deep cultural divisions. Present differences deserve to be described in contemporary terms. The purpose of public speech is not just to restate anger but to clarify the principles and evidence that fuel it -- in ways that invite discussion, not inhibit it. The demons are already among us -- so let's muster up some new analogies and declare a ceasefire on such demonizing rhetoric.

By Katrina vanden Heuvel  | October 3, 2010; 6:59 PM ET
Categories:  vanden Heuvel  | Tags:  Katrina vanden Heuvel  
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Comments

Why? It works so well. You've made your bed, now sleep in it.

Posted by: pcannady | October 3, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Ah, The Washington Pravda wants to crack down on what analogies the right can use.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | October 3, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

History has a way of repeating itself. Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them, said Santayana and I think Ben Franklin as well. History teaches us by analogy to Nazi Germany and Hitler and the Munich Appeasement that murdering ruthless dictators must be crushed early, like a snake in its shell.

History is not a strong suit of Barak Obama who must think that FDR and his New Deal brought the Great Depression to a close. He did not. WWII, Japan and Germany put us all to work and in about 1944 because of high employment and productivity the Great Depression ended. Hitler taught us the lesson that George W. Bush had learned. Appeasing Saddam Hussein would not make America or the Middle East safer. Appeasing Iran could cause us a disaster here at home.

Posted by: LETFREEDOMRING2 | October 4, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

LETFREEDOMRING2 says, "History is not a strong suit of Barak Obama who must think that FDR and his New Deal brought the Great Depression to a close. He did not. WWII, Japan and Germany put us all to work and in about 1944 because of high employment and productivity the Great Depression ended."

OK, so then the only way to end the present economic problem is to have a war. Since nobody is likely to attack us now, it might be necessary to attack somebody else. Let's attack Paraguay!

Posted by: michael_chaplan | October 4, 2010 4:59 AM | Report abuse

LETFREEDOMRING2 says, "History is not a strong suit of Barak Obama who must think that FDR and his New Deal brought the Great Depression to a close. He did not. WWII, Japan and Germany put us all to work and in about 1944 because of high employment and productivity the Great Depression ended."

OK, so then the only way to end the present economic problem is to have a war. Since nobody is likely to attack us now, it might be necessary to attack somebody else. Let's attack Paraguay!

Posted by: michael_chaplan | October 4, 2010 5:00 AM | Report abuse

I welcome this, but I would be more convinced of the writer's sincerity if she would allude to an example of the kind of rhetoric from the liberal or progressive side of the spectrum that ought to be part of this cease fire.

Posted by: sthoffmann1 | October 4, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

So are you Lib/progressives going to pull back on your rhetoric or is this just another finger shaking moment at conservatives? We read your book, old Saul's rules work great when used against you. So now you want to call a truce? Maybe you should have called your truce back in January 2009, it would have had a better impact unlike the "we won , you lost rhetoric" eh there cupcake?

Posted by: elcigaro1 | October 4, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

elcigaro,

So, you have no moral objections to hitting below the belt, as long as you are the one doing the hitting?

Let's hope that Alinsky's tactics produce the same success for the Right as they had for the Left in the 1970's.

Posted by: ablum1 | October 4, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Dana Milbank's take on Glenn Beck is not so much interesting as it is pathological. Beck does make mistakes, but he also calls a few shots correctly. I know that is contrary to the canon of what is acceptable to the looney left, but it is looney to be obsessed with people like Beck and Sarah Palin. Very looney because it makes them more important than they are.

Posted by: sailhardy | October 4, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

LETFREEDOMRING2 @ October 4, 2010 2:50 AM wrote "History teaches us by analogy to Nazi Germany and Hitler and the Munich Appeasement that murdering ruthless dictators must be crushed early, like a snake in its shell.

History is not a strong suit of Barak Obama who must think that FDR and his New Deal brought the Great Depression to a close. He did not. WWII, Japan and Germany put us all to work and in about 1944 because of high employment and productivity the Great Depression ended. Hitler taught us the lesson that George W. Bush had learned."

Then, why is it that N.Korea got nuclear weapons while Bush/Cheney were in charge, and Iran for that matter made great progress in that direction?

Most importantly, why is it that with 2 wars under Bush/Cheney the economy collapsed?

It seems to me that actual recent events got in the way of your 'history' lesson. Or, perhaps, you learned the wrong lesson!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | October 4, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I couldn’t bring myself to read the entire article re Beck, call it a weak stomach but one can read only so much BS before feeling ill. I for one have no problem with his analogies and I wish more of the same ilk as Beck would use similar language – it weeds them out faster. Seems to me you could liken Beck to the Furor, sorry Freudian slip there - fuehrer. He sure can whip up a crowd based on fear, ignorance and wrap it neatly up with a patriotic bow. Just sayin…

Posted by: Lively | October 4, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

LETFREEDOMRING2 wrote:

"History teaches us by analogy to Nazi Germany and Hitler and the Munich Appeasement that murdering ruthless dictators must be crushed early, like a snake in its shell."

I dont know what planet you are from, but on Earth, snakes dont have shells. ;)

Posted by: Kleeg | October 4, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

As the US slides into corporate Fascism the last thing we need to do is bury our heads in the sand and ignore the past.

Posted by: timothy2me | October 4, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree with you totally. But then the current crop of politicians, talking heads, and media "entertainers" are too busy selling their wares and vying for ratings...journalism and real reporting died years ago.

Posted by: staterighter | October 4, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Some good thoughts here and I agree it's time to stop the name calling and referring to those we don't agree with as bygone bad guys. That's past history and if it's going to repeat itself, so be it, deal with it when it happens.

And speaking of Hitler, those who use him as poster boy of the single most bad guy in history, think again and read your history. No doubt about it he did bring about some terrible things, but he also did some great things for the people of Germany. You can't judge him only by the ever present hatered spewed out by the Jewish community. The Holacaust is over, forget it and move on . . . . deal with America's own problems and the inept administration that is leading us into an abyss . . .

Posted by: dick1019 | October 4, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Really?

For years, The Left has promiscuously thrown "Hitler" and "Nazi" epithets at conservatives.

Katrina, liberals like you made this bed. Now you can lay in it.

Posted by: 0maha | October 4, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

But gee the Teapublicans have trained the base like Pavlov's dogs to respond whenever a Democrat is compared to Hitler.

Posted by: FauxReal | October 4, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

It's difficult not to equate people with Hitler or the Nazis when they behave similarly, especially in using The Big Lie as a propaganda tactic, or when they scapegoat a particular group, such as undocumented immigrants, Muslims, gays, or even all liberals with accusations that we're all Communists.

When a group makes no real secret of its intolerance, it's asking for such comparisons. When people get over that behavior, I'll get over the comparison.

But some comparisons are laughable, such as Glenn Beck calling President Obama either a Nazi, fascist, or Communist. Beck is simply delusional.

But look who pays him. Heh.

Posted by: Tara12 | October 4, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Getting a bit too close to home, is it?

Posted by: eyendall2 | October 4, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree, unless the analogy is strictly appropriate:


http://dangerousintersection.org/2009/04/09/rush-limbaugh-is-a-%e2%80%9cbrainwashed-nazi%e2%80%9d/


Posted by: timothyhogan | October 4, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

No problem when the Left was marching with Bush=Hitler signs.

But now they want it toned down.

Until they're out fo power again, when their attack machine gets revved up.

Posted by: drjcarlucci | October 4, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

to Ms vanden Huevel; all leftists/DIMocRATS,

i'll stop referring to DIMocRATS as the slime, filth, garbage & BIGOTS that they demonstrably are (in dealing with the voters of the center/right) when they abjectly APOLOGIZE for all the hate-FILLED/nasty/MEAN-spirited LIES & comments made about everyone in the nation, who doesn't agree with their SELF-righteous, sanctamonious, arrogantly STUPID, inbred PREJUDICES.

as a "person of color" (who is light enough to "pass" if i wished to - i do NOT!) i get to hear all the "quietly spoken" prejudiced comments,"coded racism" & "condesenscion to" of the LEFTISTS toward everyone, who is NOT "like us" (them).

the "talking down to", "soft racism" & arrogance of the "ruling class" of the left/right coasts & in the halls of Congress toward "regular people outside the beltway" is the PRIME reason that the DIMocRATS party is about to LOSE both houses of Congress & BHO will become totally IRRELEVANT in just about 4 weeks.

face it, DIMocRATS/lefties: you did it to yourselves and there is NOTHING that you can say or do in the next four weeks (or perhaps FOREVER) to reverse the perception of the mass of voters in the USA that you just don't LIKE us and/or CARE what we think.======> you "big wheels" didn't care/listen to us, so we will vote you OUT in the largest BLOODBATH in modern history on 11/02/10, in 2012 & in the elections to follow.

just my opinion. = i will not & cannot speak for our county Tea Party group, absent a popular vote of the membership.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | October 5, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

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