Propaganda Prop # 8: False Equivalence

Imbalance concept. Black scales with red sphere and cube.

In a video making the rounds on the Internet not long ago,  an interviewer asks several science-minded individuals why they believe in evolution and not creationism, and coaxes them into saying that it is essentially because science is based on observable evidence, while religion is based on pure belief.  He then innocently observes that, hey, evolutionists discuss events that supposedly happened millions of years ago, and you can’t witness them since they were so far in the past; so why is that better than believing things you can’t see that supposedly happened thousands of years ago, or that happen on some spiritual plane of existence? By suggesting that putting faith in physical evidence is as arbitrary as putting faith in dogma,  he was slyly invoking false equivalence, the eighth in our series of propaganda tools.

A false equivalence, as the name suggests, is comparing or equating things that are not appropriately similar. (“The First Amendment applies to the Internet even though it hadn’t been invented when the Constitution was written; so the Second Amendment gives me the right to own an AK-47.”) This tactic is often labeled false analogy, which theoretically could be classified as something different: a false equivalence is saying that two related but dissimilar things are essentially the same, while a false analogy is saying that two unrelated things are comparable (“You cheat at solitaire, so you have no right to criticize me for being a racist.”). But in practice, the distinction is often so slight and so difficult to pinpoint that it’s really no false equivalence to just consider them interchangeable.

Quite often, the F.E. seems to be a valid analogy at first blush, but if you examine it more closely, you see that the subtle distinctions are actually quite substantial. It isn’t necessarily that the differences are more numerous than the similarities, but they are more significant. In the photo above, the two objects have certain things in common: e.g., they are both regular geometric solids, they are both shiny, they are both smooth, and they are both red. But clearly they are not the same.  One is a cube and one is a sphere. One is heavier than the other. It may be that they are different sizes, or made of different materials,  or that the cube is hollow. In any case, the differences literally outweigh the similarities.

Recently when discussing vegetarianism, I made an allusion to my 40 years of personal experience with the topic, and someone remarked that I might as well cite 40 years of faith healing or psychic work as proof that those activities are valid.  The point was that all of them involve anecdotal evidence; but the anecdotal evidence is being used in very different ways. And it’s a false equivalence for at least three reasons.

First, as I perhaps should have made more clear, my “experience” is not limited to my own vegetarianism, but to my having read about, met and talked to, literally hundreds of other vegetarians, and to having done a great deal of research on the topic.  Second, it’s a comparison between the purely hypothetical and intangible — i.e., psychic powers and faith healing — and the tangible and demonstrable; diet definitely does have an effect on health, and there’s ample evidence that a vegetarian diet can have a positive effect. Third and most important, unlike the psychic and the faith healer, I’ve never cited my personal experience/research as “proof” of anything; on the contrary, I suggest that it’s reason to doubt conventional wisdom — i.e., that consuming meat is necessary for good health. (Which is to say that when you have a premise that doing thing A invariably produces result B, yet you have hundreds of random individuals who’ve been doing A for years with results consistently the opposite of B, it might be prudent to examine your premise a little more closely.)

It’s very easy to drift into those murky waters, because we all like to make comparisons — they help illustrate, clarify and amplify. But no two things are exactly alike; so it can be a bit tricky to determine where to draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate analogy. Sometimes, then, the false equivalence is a sincere logical fallacy rather than an attempt to deceive. In many cases, however, the analogist steps blatantly over the line; even when not doing so deliberately, he/ she does so as part of an overall inclination to distort in order to attack or defend a particular position.

The interviewer in the video may or may not have been intentionally dissembling, but he definitely was operating under a false premise: namely, that religious authorities are at least as qualified to speak about science as are scientific authorities. This stems from the great fundamentalist fallacy that religious texts should be interpreted as literally as scientific texts. But in fact, religion and science are two totally different spheres of cognition — two different languages, if you will. Those who understand this can be both scientific and religious if they so choose. Those who don’t are likely either to condemn religion as being unscientific (its actually nonscientific) or condemn science as being “blasphemous”.

False equivalence is often invoked in discussions of religion. One popular motif is to maintain that the absence of faith is itself a sort of faith. A few years ago, there was even a movement among the Christian Right to have “secular humanism” officially declared a religion, so that it would be a violation of the principle of the separation of church and state to enact secularist policies such as prohibiting school-enforced prayer. Cute.

Of course, this was a political maneuver as much as a religious one, and you’ll certainly encounter plenty of false equivalence in discussions about politics and current events. Turn on the talking heads and before a quarter of an hour has elapsed,  chances are you will have heard at least one faulty comparison.

One of the most popular manifestations is the “both sides do it” narrative,  which sometimes manifests as the tu quoque — Latin for “you too”, a fancy way of saying that it takes one to know one.  As you might imagine, I get that one thrown at me quite a bit. (“You’re a propagandist yourself”. “You’re promoting your own causes.” “You’re using straw men and cherry picking while accusing other people of doing the same.” Etc, etc, etc. Which is a clear indication that someone either is distorting my words or is confused about the concept in question.)  Sometimes a tu quoque is a valid point; quite often, it’s just a knee-jerk attack from someone who feels that he/ she absolutely must attack, but really has nothing to say.

The “both sides do it” is my favorite specimen of false equivalence because it offers so many possible applications. Accordingly, I’ll be devoting a separate discussion to it in the near future.

No examination of false equivalence is complete without some mention of the very popular “reductio ad Hitlerum” — the tendency to summon up the specter of Der Fuhrer to stand beside anyone you don’t like.  If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this one, I’d be as powerful as Hitler.

The fact is, nobody is really like Hitler. That’s what makes him such an effective illustration but such an ineffective and inappropriate benchmark. Sometimes someone may have something in common with Hitler in a very small way (you may know lots of short, dark-haired former painters who speak German), but never to the extent that fiery rhetoricians suggest. A Hitler analogy is almost always out of line.

That being said, we also should acknowledge that the over-sensitization to Hitler analogies has created its own problems. Sometimes you might hear an exchange like this:

Mr. Smith: You’re very firm in your beliefs, but that isn’t always a good thing. The Nazis were firm in their beliefs, too.

Mr. Jones: There you go, comparing us to Nazis and comparing me to Hitler.

Smith did no such thing, of course. He gave Hitler his proper treatment: as the ultimate extreme we all should avoid, and a powerful illustration of what excesses firmness of conviction can lead to. It is Jones who is making the false equivalence. This is a propagandaphile’s delight: a false equivalence about a false equivalence.

More on the Myth of Hitler’s Gun Ban, Part 2

historical-photos-rare-pt2-hitler-gustav-railway-gun

( a continuation of the previous post which was the continuation of a prior post)

Salient Point # 3: Yes, the Jews fought back. So what?

Of all the statements I made in my original post, the one that seems really to stick in the craw of the gunsters the most was this:

But the concept of a handful of citizens armed with hunting rifles and Saturday night specials fending off an army is delusional hubris peculiar to gun addicts.

That was just too much reality for some of them to take, and so they accused me of being not only full of bovine fecal matter, but of being (somehow) disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust. One “rebuttal” even characterized my research as “outrageous” and “disturbing” (unlike, say, having a bunch of deranged individuals playing with loaded weapons).  Because, as some of them hastened to point out, some of the Jews did fight back, and did so most valiantly. And in particular the gunsters point to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as proof that my “opinion” is dead wrong.

Sometimes I really need a crowbar to pry my jaw off the  floor. I can’t imagine a more vibrant example of people arguing against their own position.

Yes, the Jews fought back, in Warsaw and many other places. They staged more than 100 acts of armed resistance, according to Wikipedia. Sometimes they did some damage, and a few of the perpetrators even lived to tell about it. And guess what? All of these insurgencies combined still failed to stop the Holocaust. So explain to me again exactly how mentioning them is supposed to discredit my conclusion?

I don’t mean to suggest that the Jews should not have resisted somehow, even violently. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But the odds were overwhelmingly against them, just as they are overwhelmingly against any group of armed citizens facing off against an armed government. Considering that their score was zero out of 100-plus at preventing the Holocaust, how can anyone believe that their acts of armed resistance prove the odds were in their favor?

Oh, wait. There’s something I forgot to include. The gunsters also maintain that even though the Jews were, in some cases, armed, they just didn’t have enough arms. If only the Jewish resistors could have gotten their hands on more hardware, they assert, the tide would have turned. They’re not even speculating about this; it’s something they absolutely and unequivocally know to be true.

Time out.

Could these possibly be the same gunsters who proclaim, loudly and at every opportunity, that “gun control doesn’t work”? And yet in the next breath they declare that beyond a shadow of a doubt, “gun control” is the one thing that made the Holocaust possible? Which is it, folks? Does “gun control” work or doesn’t it? Are you saying that it only works on Jews?

No, wait, it must work on any other oppressed people as well. Because according to the Gunster Gospel, the first thing a dictator does when seizing control is to take away people’s guns (even though an armed populace can effectively resist tyranny) and then he can commit genocide and do whatever else he pleases because the people are unarmed and therefore powerless (even though “gun control” doesn’t work). Everybody keeping up okay?

If, as the gunsters so often insist, people who are sufficiently motivated to get their hands on guns will do so no matter what kind of laws they are violating, then one must assume that the Jews were armed to the teeth. What more powerful motivation could there possibly be than survival? But no matter how adequate or inadequate their arsenal may have been, one thing is for certain: the Nazi arsenal was far superior.

Likewise, the gun nuts who are itching for a chance to take down Uncle Sam in a showdown at the corral seem to be convinced that if they only could acquire more and bigger toys, then the momentum would shift in their direction. Sorry, gun nuts; you will always be pitifully outnumbered and pitifully outgunned.

Salient Point # 4: The exceptions really aren’t.

It appears I may have goofed again. A moment ago, I stated that when a small band of armed citizens defend themselves against armed government forces, the odds are overwhelmingly against them. What I probably should have said instead was that the odds of their success are essentially nonexistent — at least if history is any guide. Because I can’t think of a single unequivocal exception to this rule.

The gunsters, however, are convinced that they can.  There are several examples in particular that they keep lobbing in my direction: Afghanis against Soviets, the South Vietnamese against the North Vietnamese and even (I kid you not) the American Revolution. But none of these qualifies as an instance of a small contingent of armed citizens defending themselves against their government.

In each of these conflicts, the insurgents formed an army and/or were aided by outside forces; in the first two, it was the United States supplying much of the firepower. In the Revolution, the colonists formed their own organized and trained army (not just a band of armed citizens) and they were substantially aided by other armies — most notably, that of France. (Sorry, gun nuts. I know many of you love to believe that the French are anti-American socialist pussies; but the truth is that to a very large extent you owe to them the liberty you so fervently claim to cherish.) In each of these wars, moreover, the defenders were warding off invaders on their home turf — which was not the case in Germany.

And what about the French Revolution? Yes indeed, those brie-nibblers did have their own revolt and it was indeed successful, but it was a multi-pronged social upheaval rather than just a military action. And it wasn’t fought by just a small group of people, but by a large contingent of revolutionaries, including soldiers, against a corrupt aristocracy.  Note also that they were on the offensive rather than the defensive end of the clash.

Such also was the case with the successful Cuban revolution, which probably stands the best chance of providing a solid exception. The victorious revolutionary force was quite small, but it employed guerilla tactics quite effectively, essentially assuming the character of a military unit. (As I’ve mentioned before, the dividing line between civilian and military factions is sometimes blurry.) Perhaps most significantly, the Cuban guerillas had the support of the people, who were fed up with the Batista regime.

Support is crucial in such situations, which is one of many reasons why the Tea Partiers would be crushed like bugs if they ever attempted to emulate Castro’s success by storming Washington. Not only would government forces have them woefully outnumbered and outgunned, but few citizens would have their back. Most Americans would rather stick with a duly elected president, even if they don’t particularly like him, than line up behind the likes of  Wayne LaPierre.  By the way, history failed to repeat itself in Cuba only a couple of years later, when a counter-revolution failed to overthrow Castro (who is yet another dictator whom the gun culture falsely accuses of banning guns).

Which brings us back to the Jews in Germany. Some detractors have suggested that it really wouldn’t have been necessary for them to win in a conflict with the Nazi troops; just by attracting the attention of the rest of the world, they could have drawn sympathetic reinforcements that could have toppled Hitler. In other words, if they’d fought back — which they did, many times over — with better weapons — which they were prevented from acquiring by “gun control” — which doesn’t work — then it would have prevented the Holocaust — which may or may not actually have happened, depending on which gunster you ask. Such a presumption, however, ignores the most crucial factor of all.

Salient Point # 5: Hitler had a more potent weapon.

It could be found even on the other side of the world, on the seat of every new Ford motor car that rolled off the assembly line, in the form of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, an apocryphal tome detailing how the Jews were supposedly scheming to take over the world. Henry Ford, a virulent anti-Semite, felt that every citizen (or at least every citizen who could afford to buy one of his automobiles) should have a complimentary warning about the Jewish menace.

It wasn’t just this one book that made the difference, by any means. Ford spread calumny about the Jewish people in other ways as well; he compiled his own anti-Semitic book, ran anti-Semitic rants in a newspaper he owned, and even supplied financial backing for the Nazi cause. Nor was he the only prominent American to do so. Numerous American tycoons and businesses provided financial and/or rhetorical support to Hitler and his conquest. Among them were William Randolph Hearst and a banking firm connected to Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W.

With that kind of bankroll, fueled by poisonous rhetoric, in support of the Nazis worldwide, it’s staggeringly naive to suggest that a small band of Jewish rebels, or even a large number of small bands of Jewish rebels, could have gained enough international traction to help them topple Goliath — particularly given that the Nazis controlled the media in Germany, and could censor and spin the news at their discretion.  And all the while, they were convincing people that in fact it was the Jews themselves who dominated the media. Thus they circulated illustrations like this one:

nazi propaganda

The Nazis were masters of propaganda, which saturated every level of their society at every age stratum. We’ve previously mentioned that the nursery rhymes their children were taught glorified weaponry. Additionally, the math problems they learned dealt with killing their enemies, invalids and other “undesirables”. Propaganda is arguably the most powerful weapon on earth, depending on how one defines power. The Nazis had one of the most potent arsenals of it in history; and the Jews were its prime target.

In sum, the notion that resistance by the Jews could have averted their fate — or that “gun control” was crucial to Nazi dominance — is wild speculation at best. There is scarcely a drop of evidence to support either conclusion. And an ocean of evidence to contradict them both.

A Parting Irony

And in concluding (I hope) the discussion of this topic that has dragged on much longer than I ever planned, I can’t help noting how ironic it is that the smears comparing President Obama to Hitler invariably come from right-wing extremists.  Because they themselves have much more in common with Nazism than does the president. No no no, I am not saying that they are Nazis (except for those who actually call themselves Nazis — we’ll allow them that privilege if they want it) but they at least lean in that general direction. Enough so that their likening Obama to Hitler is rather akin to the whoopee cushion calling the football flat.

Of course, if you want to play the reductio ad hitlerum game, you can always find some way in which Hitler resembles absolutely anyone. Even me; although I find Nazism detestable and see nothing the least bit admirable about Hitler, I have brown hair and a mustache and I’m a vegetarian and a writer and an amateur artist. Just like Adolf. Perhaps if you dug into his biography deeply enough, you might find that he once had a pet rabbit and raised underwear on his high school’s flagpole just as I once did.

But when we speak of the ideological kinship between Nazism and contemporary American “conservatism”, we’re referring to values that are far more fundamental: jingoistic nationalism, hawkishness, corporatism, patriarchalism, strong alliance between church and state, and “traditional values”.  Not to mention a raging hard-on for firearms. If you look at the list of Americans and American firms who aided and supported Hitler, you’ll find that they were almost entirely right-wing. And years later, it was a Republican president who honored Nazi soldiers.

Additionally, both Nazism and “conservatism” revolve to a great extent out of demonizing the others; moreover, they largely even target the same scapegoats: communists, secularists, homosexuals, university intellectuals, unions, religious minorities, and assorted “liberals”. And like the Nazis, the “conservatives” also saturate the media with accusations that those whom they most despise are really the ones who manipulate the media:

bigjournalism-20110314-antisemeticimage

This is a cartoon intended to depict how “liberals” supposedly control the media. Notice anything familiar about it? It was used no fewer than three times on the popular right-wing website Breitbart.com. (The man is gone but his brilliant legacy lives on.) It was eventually removed from two of the posts in question, but the last I heard, the bright folks at Breitbart still have not apologized for what might charitably be termed a dire lapse in judgment.

I may have said this before, but it bears at least one reiteration. Whenever group A wages an intensive campaign to demonize group B, it’s wise to be more suspicious of the former than the latter. If there’s one lesson the Holocaust really should have taught us, that’s it.

The Myth Of Hitler’s Gun Ban

Whenever a politician, or anyone else, starts talking about regulating guns, it’s a safe bet that someone will bring up how Hitler supposedly outlawed guns in Germany, which supposedly enabled him to do all the mischief he did.  As we’ve noted before, Adolf is a staple reference among propagandists. It’s become an automatic response to compare anyone you don’t like to Der Fuhrer, on the grounds that since he was evil incarnate, everything he ever said or did must also be evil. People have even been known to suggest that since he was a vegetarian, vegetarians are evil. It’s not surprising, then, that you often see this quote pop up:

“This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”  –Adolf Hitler, 1935

Trouble is, Hitler never made such a speech in 1935. Nor is there any record that he ever spoke these particular words at all.  This little “speech” was obviously written for him, many years after his death, by someone who wanted you to believe that gun registration is Hitler-evil.

What he did say, seven years later, was this:

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.” So it’s fair to conclude that he believed “gun control” had its uses. But that’s quite a different thing from claiming that “gun control” was instrumental in the Nazi rise to power.

 

And the truth is that no gun law was passed in Germany in 1935. There was no need for one, since a gun registration program was already in effect in Germany; it was enacted in 1928, five years before Hitler’s ascendancy.  But that law did not “outlaw” guns, it just restricted their possession to individuals who were considered law-abiding citizens, and who had a reason to own one. And there’s no reason to consider that law particularly significant, either; the Nazis didn’t seize control of their own country with gunpowder. They used a much more potent weapon: propaganda.

Jews comprised less than one percent of the German population. Why didn’t the other 99 percent come to their defense and fight off Nazi tyranny? Quite simply, because they didn’t want to. They’d been persuaded that what was happening was best for their country, and that the Jews deserved what they got. It was propaganda, not firepower, that made the difference.

Under Nazi reign, Jews were prohibited from owning guns, just as they were prohibited from doing many things. And it has become an article of faith among the gun culture that had they been armed, the Holocaust would not have happened (that is, among those members of the gun culture who know that the Holocaust really did happen). But the concept of a handful of citizens armed with hunting rifles and Saturday night specials fending off an army is delusional hubris peculiar to gun addicts. On American soil, its most glorious day in the sun has been perhaps Waco. And we all know how well that turned out.

The gun culture is right about one thing, however. Hitler really did enact a new gun law. But it was in 1938, not 1935 – well after the Nazis already had the country in its iron grip. Furthermore, the new law in many ways LOOSENED gun restrictions. For example, it greatly expanded the numbers who were exempt, it lowered the legal age of possession from 20 to 18, and it completely lifted restriction on all guns except handguns, as well as on ammunition.

Given all of this, it’s pretty hard to make a case that “gun control” played a significant role in Nazi conquest. In fact, one might well say that when gun addicts brandish Hitler as a weapon, they are unwittingly arguing against their own cause.

(NOTE: Paragraph 5 of the above post was added after initial publication. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see More on the Myth of Hitler’s Gun Ban, Part 1 and More on the Myth of Hitler’s Gun Ban, Part 2. Because the above post was deluged with comments, a few of them somehow were overlooked and did not get approved and published until later. Apologies to those who posted them. Comments on this article are now closed.)

What Would We Do Without Hitler?

Goebbels with his boss

For most of his post-mortality existence, Adolf Hitler has been the man that most people wish never had existed at all. But in recent days he has proven to be not only quite useful but indispensable in public discourse, particularly on political matters. Want to express dislike for some political figure? Compare him to Hitler. Want to express distrust of some organization or group? Call them Nazis. Want to express dissatisfaction, outrage or concern over some policy or practice? Peg it as fascism. What started out as a novel rhetorical device to exaggerate the worst of qualities turned into standard practice and now has become an extremely overused smear tactic – and it’s almost never meant as hyperbole anymore.

The Hitler hysteria was cranked up a notch or two during the Bush years. It was not uncommon for people to liken George W. to Adolf, and even to say “the difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected.” This was an exaggeration, but at least it had some degree of  ideological basis: the Nazi party represented the ultimate (so far) in right-wing extremism, and Bush was certainly a right-wing extremist.

But the Hitlering that occurred then was nothing compared to the Hitlering that’s been going on since Obama has been in office. And this is  more than an exaggeration; it’s cluelessly misdirected. Barack Obama is a bit on the conservative side at times, but he’s far from being a right-wing extremist, and nowhere in the same galaxy as the Nazis – who were, lest we forget, white supremacists.  Which of course won’t prevent the Tea Partiers from continuing to put the trademark mustache on his portrait even as they denounce him as a black supremacist and a socialist/ communist.

(Brief history lesson: The Nazis and communists fought on opposite sides, and Hitler hated communists.  And the Nazis did not come to dominate their country by enacting legislation, and certainly not by enacting health care reform. They did it by stirring up hatred, by convincing certain citizens that certain other citizens are the enemy, that THEY are evil and must be eliminated, THEY have caused all our problems, THEY have stolen our country and WE must take it back. Sound familiar?)

And yet the right-wingers all but wet themselves when someone on the other side of the aisle invokes the specter of Nazism, even faintly. Just recently,  Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) sparked outrage by saying in comments about the smears against health care reform, “”They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie, just like Goebbels.You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it.” You’ll note that he didn’t call anyone Hitler, or a Nazi or fascist. He merely pointed out, quite accurately as it turns out, that the big lie propagated about the HCR bill follows the tactic advocated by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist.

But it had Republicanoids calling for his head.  Over at fair and balanced Fox, fair and balanced Megyn Kelly indignantly  insisted that her network was never guilty of such a thing. Which really makes you wonder: does anyone at Fox EVER watch its own programming? Nazi references at Fox are as thick as corpses at Auschwitz.

Take Glenn Beck. Please. During just his first 18 months at Fox, his program invoked the Third Reich no fewer than 642 times.  He slapped the N-word on “liberals” and on the president, and on anyone who supported anything the president supported, for any offense ranging from wanting to tax the rich to being left-handed. (Just kidding about the latter. I think.) And while he’s the most advanced of Fox’s infections, he’s by no means the only one.  Virtually all of them indulge in Hitlerism, and virtually any of them is shocked, shocked, when anyone on the other side does.

Take the Arizona immigration law. Please. Concocted for the alleged purpose of “protecting our borders” from illegal immigrants and buttressed by false claims that an influx of brown-skinned folk has sparked higher crime, it was pushed through by state Senator Russell Pearce, who has a long history of promoting white supremacy, and on at least one occasion made a public appearance with – and actually hugged – a leading official of the Neo-Nazi Party. (Just to be clear: those aren’t people that someone else has called Nazis. They’re people who call THEMSELVES Nazis.) Although he claims to be the author of the bill, Pearce was assisted (probably quite heavily, given his lack of facility with the English language. Hmmm… could he be an illegal himself?) by an organization called Federation for American Immigration Reform (Yes, that’s FAIR for short), which was founded by an unabashed white supremacist and funded by the Pioneer Fund, which has a history of supporting “eugenics movement” research that attempts to prove the superiority of Caucasians.  Coincidentally, Arizona also has prohibited schools from teaching ethnic studies or courses that advocate the “overthrow” of the American government – which apparently is the same thing. (Or does that mean Tea Partiers? I’m confused) And it has barred teachers with “heavy” accents. But of course, there’s no racist intent behind any of this, and how dare you suggest such a thing, you  bleeding heart librul.

Still, the bill does require (not allow, require) police to question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant – i.e., anyone with dark skin. (When asked by a reporter what an illegal immigrant looks like, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer responded, “I do not know. I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like.  I can tell you that there are people in Arizona who assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like.” Oh. Well, just as long as somebody assumes something.) So inevitably, someone would suggest that rounding up people because of their ethnicity is a bit, um. like what the Third Reich did.  Upon which suggestion the Beckster went ballistic, asking “Are you out of your minds?”   And then he went right back to his usual business of explaining how Obama’s plan to extend health care to all Americans is exactly the kind of thing Hitler did.

Perhaps the most side-splitting example of Beckian Hitlerism occurred when President Obama, in filling a Supreme Court vacancy, expressed the desire to appoint a justice with “empathy”. Despite the fact that many right-wingers have also praised that quality in a justice, Beck pounced upon it as a vile emblem of librulism, and pointed out that empathy leads to “bad decisions”, and it even fueled Hitler’s rise to power. Yep, there’s nothing like a gas chamber to demonstrate a little empathy.

Wherever Joseph Goebbels and the Der Fuhrer are right now, they must be taking fiendish delight in the enormous, invaluable contribution they have made to contemporary nutball propaganda.