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August 31, 2006


Let us not forget that both sides use the Nazi analogy equally. I often hear leftists and even moderates on the left describing the President and his cabinet members as Hitlers.

Comical lefty hit piece. Especially when THEY have been whining and comparing Bush to Hitler forever. Typical...

I happen to believe and always have that Krauthammer et al have a point,Tthe administration's bumbling and pour execuin is the issue.

Very true. I do not assume that you are attempting a balanced discussion in your column. However, to mention this tendency with regard to conservatives without admitting that liberals are equally likely to use it is intellectually dishonest.

I trust you are aware of this and intentionally left out reference to liberals' use of this stupid analogy.

Hilter took evil to levels seldom seen. To use Hitler analogies regarding everything from football coaches to sitting Presidents shows either (i) an ignorance of history or (ii) the assumption that your listening audience is ignorant to history.

The problem with mentioning Hotler is that he did three different, large things.

One was to revive the German economy after WWI.

The second was to try and take over the world.

The third was to exterminate about 4 million people.

When one is comparing someone to Hitler, which part? One can be a fascist without exterminating people (the most common meaning, I think), but if you refer to an authoritarian fascist as like Hitler, it seems like an attempt to say that the next thing they will do will be to exterminate people, which is not an easy thing to accuse someone of w/o evidence.

Maybe we need to use a different example to describe an authoritarian fascist without the extermination business...but of course they are less potent images, so if we want impact over accuracy, we'll stick with Hitler.

Otherwise we could talk about Pinochet, etc.

How about Obvious's Theory: the more we use terms like Nazis, Communists, Fascists, Conservatives, OR Liberals, the less we focus on the actual problem and the more we avoid getting at the root of the problem. Basing our decisions in 2006 on things that happened in 1939 is just silly. The players are different, the weapons are different, the stakes are different. Only the causes, hate, fear and greed, remain the same. Unfortunately, the hate, fear and greed is coming from us. Perhaps an honest look at our own motives is in order? Nah, what the hell - forget changing our moral compass, let's just kill them all. Oh, wait - isn't that what Hitler said? Hmm.

I'll take the comment from Tom and agree that, yes, Bush, Rummy, Cheney, et al, must be ignorant of history and that they obviously assume their audience is ignorant of history since they have decided to use the Hitler analogy inappropriately, as he so suggested.

Their goal, as directed by Rove, is to instill as much fear as possible before November, hoping to maintain their GOP lapdog majority in Congress. They know they might as well leave town if they don't.

To debate the validity of the analogy is playing into their game which is to avoid public debate about the real issues, issues they have caused and cannot reasonably defend anymore, starting with the war on Iraq.

Don't be fooled by these fools. We are in far worse trouble than they want us to know and they haven't a clue as to how to go about correcting their mistakes, let alone admit to them, other than "staying the course." That means more war: War with Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

They are more dangerous to our nation than Hitler.

There's your analogy.

I've been amazed at how, for over 30 years, the Republicans have gotten away with portraying Democrats as cowards and appeasers; as if they had to prepare and lead the US in WWII. Republicans fought FDR every way possible and accused him of deliberately leading us into the war. The President's grandfather, a Republican Senator, did business with the Nazis right up to the beginning of the war. The isolationist attitude prevalent at the time may not have been direct appeasement, but how would the Republicans label such an attitude in today's circumstances? They used to call the Democrats the War Party and now its the Wimp Party. How long can a political party enjoy success by simply demonizing the opposition rather than accounting for its own failures?

The reason the Hitler analogy is used, is because it truthfully characterizes a major theme of human history. Totalitarianism happens. Evil happens. A lot. And the initial response to it is denial, and a belief that it can be negotiated away. Historically that denial has caused many deaths. It probably will in this case too. We never learn.

you state that for the past 30 years now the Republicans have called Democrats appeasers and cowards. But, then, to prove that they aren't, you use examples from over 60 years ago!

To call the Democrats cowards is erroneous, I feel. But the Democrats, for the most part, are not exactly known for being strong on defense and national security, and haven't been so since the Vietnam era (just as Republicans are not strong on addressing social issues). Those few Democrats who are rather hawkish and willing to support strong surveillance policies for the sake of national security tend to meet a great deal of resistance and hostility from their fellow Democrats (just ask Joe Lieberman).

Pointing to World War II era Democrats as proof that Democrats are not cowards or appeasers is an apt choice. But the Vietnam War, and the social and political turmoil that marked that era, changed the Democratic Party to one that we see today.

By the way, it was rather a cheap shot to note that George W. Bush's grandfather did business with the Nazi's. Surely, you've heard that Bush's father fought in WWII against the Nazis, and even won multiple medals and a presidential citation for his valor?

I could not disagree with you more. Listen carefully, the Hitler reference is stacked on other despotic regimes and held out as a clear and present danger.

It is not a comparison to Hitler that is being suggested, but the relative danger to our way of life - as Hitler posed.

Brendan, Islamic “nut jobs” need to be eliminated - PERIOD. They do not understand reason, they only understand barbaric solutions to their ends.

Wise up and get out of liberal professor mode and see the truth in what Bush/Rumsfeld are saying.

Iran, with its position within the worlds oil supply and limitless oil revenues to fuel their religious goals (thru nuclear terrorism) is more than a little dangerous. Just think what Hitler could have dome with the natural resources of Iran.

a recent example

Obviously the TIME peice wasn't going to take liberals to task for the same usage, you said it was out of scope. Really? If its being tossed around equally on both sides, how is it out of scope? The context is virtually the same, to demonize the opposition.

Furthermore, I fail to see how you think that terrorist groups can be treated as nations with regards to honoring policy/treatise. So the use of the word "appeasement" in this sense is fairly accurate. How can you mollify a group that cannot be held accountable for their actions except by military means and whose actions are dictated out of fundamental belief, not rational logic.

"Rogue" nations such as those who fund these groups are almost as bad, except there are reprocussions that go beyond just military action. Syria, North Korea, and Iran (axis of evil, hey look another Hitler reference). But again, these nations operate on a belief that cannot be reasoned with.

If we want to look upon history to try to give us a glimpse at what we can reasonably expect in the future, we have seen that virtually all agreements with fundamentalist Islamic nations and organizations have failed because they refuse to honor those agreements. At what point do you say, negotiation is no longer an option, retreating (see appeasement) is no longer an option, action must be taken?

Obviously the TIME peice wasn't going to take liberals to task for the same usage, you said it was out of scope. Really? If its being tossed around equally on both sides, how is it out of scope? The context is virtually the same, to demonize the opposition

I would disagree with that last point, and it goes a long way towards explaining why Nyhan's column seems so obnoxiously partisan. Conservatives and liberals are both using the Nazi analogy, but in very different ways, and only the liberals are actually using it as a slur against their opponents. Rumsfield comments criticise the Democrats not for being Nazis, but for lacking the resolve to face down what might be our most threatening foe since the Nazis. One can debate Rumsfield's critique intelligently either way, and I think that William Schirer himself would likely find at least some parallels between Islamic extremism and Nazism. Contrast this, though, to the liberal tendency to directly equate Bush with Hitler, as though cutting taxes and setting up democracies somehow correalates to gassing Jews by the million. There's no serious way to argue that Bush equals Hitler, and consequently most that do also have fantastical conspiracy theories involving 9/11, the Skull and Bones society, Prescott Bush, etc. Arguing that the GOP resembles the Nazi party or that Bush resembles Hitler requires either woeful ignorance or craven malfeasance.

So, Mr. Nyhan, to condemn Rumsfeld for making a defensible argument while completely ignoring the left's attempt to employ insults of the most lurid sort simply defies comprehension. Unless, of course, the whole column is understood as partisan spin.

The analogies are wrong not only because they're hyperbolic and stifle debate, but also because they're inaccurate. Mind you, I don't think they're inaccurate in terms of morality: terrorists are evil. There's no debate on that point.

However, the Nazis had tanks, u-boats, planes, and rows of identically dressed infantry. Once you crossed the border into Nazi controlled area, you were in enemy terrority, period. Start bombing.

The situation in 2006 in more ambiguous. Here there are organizations -- Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, Hamas -- that are not national and are geographically dispersed. Even in friendly nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan, we have difficulty preventing al-Qaeda from flourishing. The fighters blend in with civilians, and when we accidentally kill civilians (which is an unintended side-effect of occupation), they get recruits. This is a vicious cycle.

Because of the nature of such guerilla wars, when the "they" everyone is so eager to kill expands to include people who would otherwise be sympathetic to the United States, we do ourselves no favors by attacking them all since this simply generates more favor among the local populace (and therefore more supplies, intelligence, and perceived legitimacy) for terrorists.

I think there might already be a plan for this, but they could partition Baghdad into sectors, concetrate forces in that one location while temporarily (e.g. a couple of weeks) displacing civilians, establish order, provide utilities, repair infrastructure, and hand off the sector to Iraqi troops who stay until until the insurgency has died down. After every sector is handed off, withdraw our troops. This wouldn't be considered "appeasement" since we would have met our objective.

I'm not an analytical polical scientist. I consider myself a pretty normal guy trying to make a living in this world with a family to support. I don't know of anyone who considers any of todays leaders on the level of Hitler. I just seems to have become an expression that has been over-used by Republicans and Democrats alike. You know, the situation in Iraq is a terrible sinario that keeps sending our troops home in boxes. I think if you had to ask them or their family members, they'd tell you that they believe in what they are fighting for. I know there are some troops that have protested this fight. I can see their point. I don't think this administration has been perfect or even good for that matter but I do believe that, "Your best defense is a good offense." Democrat or Republican, these people hate us to the point that they will not stop trying to kill every single person on this blog. Their leaders have said as much. Yes, that scares me. I'd rather fight over there than over here. I will agree that Amercans knew how to fight back in the day. Now these things are so politicized that our military leaders fight with their hands tied behind their backs. Rules in war hhhhmm.....Patton would have laughed at that.

You said "Some commenters are complaining that I didn't mention liberals using Hitler analogies. The reason is that it was outside the scope of the column."

It's a shame that was outside the scope of a column entitled "Why the Nazi Analogy Is on the Rise," subtitled ""Appeasement of terrorists is the specter of the day, but it's bad for debate in a democracy." An exploration of why hyperbole is bad for debate in a democracy would have been a much more thoughtful and interesting column.

I've taken liberty to slightly rewrite only Mr. Nyhan's last paragraph in regards the Democratic playbook he so elegantly espouses:

"In fact, any negotiation with a Republican or decision to stay the course can be condemned as racist. More than a century and a half after the War Between the States, isn't it time for our domestic policy debate to stick behind a single inflammatory analogy?"

Would it have killed you to have mentioned that Borah was a Republican from Idaho? That Rumsfeld is essentially using a former leader of the Republican party to attack critics of the current Republican party?

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