Diane McWhorter published a piece sneering at the tendency to avoid comparing the Bush administration to the Nazis. She wonders why “nobody seems eager to delve too deeply into what exactly it was about George W. Bush that the voters so roundly rejected . . . polite discussion of that question does not contain any derivative of the words fascism, propaganda, or dictatorship. God forbid Nazi or Hitler.” Early on, Ms. McWhorter points out that the Bush administration, like the Nazis, engages in propaganda. I do not think this successfully isolates the more distinctive qualities of National Socialism.
Ms. McWhorter handsomely acknowledges that the Bush people have avoided exterminating the Jews, but insists that this does not get them off the hook. She concludes by assuming the point at issue: The United States is like Nazi Germany because ordinary Americans went along with Bush for a number of years. Before that dazzling display of circular reasoning, she makes a number of other comparisons, and one core of her argument focuses on the brief threat to change the Senate’s rules on the filibuster, which, had it happened, “struck me as a functional analog of the Enabling Act of 1933, which consolidated the German government under Chancellor Hitler and effectively dissolved the Reichstag as a parliamentary body.” For this analogy to hold, you have to assume, at a minimum, that in the event the Republicans had changed the filibuster rules on confirming Federal judges, there would never again have been an election in the United States. And to assume this, you have to be an idiot.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Frederick Smoler at the American Heritage Blog is rather surprised that a mainstream (web) 'zine like Slate would stoop to publishing a Bush=Hitler piece. Especially one that is filled with poor historical analogies: