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Stop Using the Nazi Card

Posted on May 13 2010 3:00 pm
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Few things irritate me as much as when self-righteous commentators condemn their opponents by comparing them to Nazis, which actually is a type of Nazi tactic itself. Nazis and other tyrants use generalizations and flimsy comparisons to denigrate their enemies.

Their tactic is simple, yet effective: First, pick the most disgusting form of life you can imagine. Next, find something your opponent does that can be compared to it by using the infamous “slippery slope”-argument and… tada! There you have it, you’ve just succeeded in committing character assassination. It’s that easy.

Last night on The Daily Show, Lewis Black, who apparently got his comedy act from seeing how my mom acts when I leave kitchen cabinet doors open, lit Glenn Beck up for using the Nazi card so much that his show shows more swastikas than the History Channel.

Watch the video below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Glenn Beck’s Nazi Tourette’s
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

It’d be nice to see similar mockery of Keith Olbermann and those who so frequently derided Bush as a Nazi, but maybe because so much of the media and comedy elite view that as a fair assessment, they don’t see it as offensive.

OK, seriously: everyone needs to quit using the Nazi card in this way. If you want to compare a terrorist or Ahmadinejad to Hitler, emphasizing their anti-Semitism and strategy of encouraging Western appeasement, then fine. In that case you are discussing ideology and geopolitical strategy. Describing someone who advocates genocide as a Nazi is fair as well. (See David Horowitz’s recent encounter with a member of the Muslim Students Association who confessed that she supports the extermination of the Jews.)

On the other hand, pretending that someone has the integrity of a Nazi over a debate over policy decisions in Western democracies – such as about the Patriot Act, ObamaCare, the war in Iraq or a civilian national security force – is absolutely ludicrous. Trust me when I say that none of these ideas are rooted in Mein Kampf.

Besides, it’s not exactly the most effective way of winning an argument, is it? Those you are trying to convince are immediately turned off, offended at your characterization of their position and don’t respect what you have to say anymore and stop listening.

All political commentators would do themselves a favor, as well as their audience and country as a whole, to stop using the Nazi card in such ways. The country needs honest, smart debate about our policies, not comparisons meant to denigrate those proposing them.

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