The Left

Nazis and fascists

If there is one thing that leads me to abandon my usual guiding rule that discussion is always worthwhile even, or perhaps especially, with people you disagree with, then it is people who misuse the Nazi label.

In my student days it annoyed me intensely when infantile lefties described Margaret Thatcher as a ‘fascist’ and these days it sickens me to see swastika signs placed on the Israeli flag and hear people making comparisons between Israel’s actions and those of the Nazis.

It is not only that such labels and comparisons are irrational, inaccurate and of course hugely offensive, they also seriously devalue the threat posed by real Nazis and real fascists.

And here is a prime example of such stupidity in an op-ed piece for Yahoo by a Ted Rall.

He argues that America has become a nation of cowards : “In a land of wimps, the dimwit is king–such is the dismal state of post-9/11 America. “

He makes a strongly-worded criticism of the Bush administration:

As George W. Bush’s aristocorporate junta runs roughshod over hard-earned freedoms, as his lunatic-right Administration loots $10 trillion from the national treasury, as his armies invade sovereign nations without cause, as he threatens war against imagined enemies while allowing real ones to build nuclear weapons, those charged with standing against these perversions of American values remain appallingly, inexplicably silent. We have become a nation of cowards, and I am ashamed.

Many Americans on the left as well as the right would surely disagree with Rall’s description of his country and object to terms such as ‘junta’ to describe their government and ‘dimwit’ to describe their president but exxagration has always been evident in politics.

Where Rall goes completely OTT is at the end of his piece.

Daniel Goldhagen’s controversial 1996 book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” pointed out an obvious truth: that the Nazis could never have triumphed, retained power or gotten anything done without the explicit complicity of the people they ruled. Therefore, Goldhagen argued–and thoughtful people agree–the failure of the German people to resist Hitler made them just as guilty as he was. How will history judge us?

I think I already know in your case Mr. Rall but in case you are still hoping to be taken seriously at some stage here is a quick piece of advice. Bush may be right-wing, you may dislike his foreign policy and you may be concerned about spending priorities and some of the civil liberty issues. And ou might not like the dominance of right-wingers in the media and the tone of debate in your country – I can understand all of that.

But America really is not Germany in the 1930’s.