Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

   Ann Coulter must have spiked the LSAT. How else could she have obtained admission into the University of Michigan School of Law? She only says things to attract attention and sell books, one might say. If she were a Hollywood gossip person, matters might be different. I do not mean to downplay the harm that harsh, false words can have to a person who is the target of an item from a Hollywood gossip person. I do not say "columnist" because, here in 2011, I think  that term is obsolete.  But Coulter's statements often are mean, hateful, and ill-considered.

   Coulter's commentary on the demonsrators on Wal Street is an aspect of what has become popular in recent years. I call it Nazification of discourse. Counter someone of an opposing view by characterizing that person as a Nazi. That's what Coulter did on Monday. The demonstrators had used phrases "demolition of capitalism" and "if we can learn to share we can all live in prosoperity." Coulter said those terms could have been said right "before the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and with only slight modification when the Nazis were coming to power."

   I will address her comments about the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution later. For now, I want to talk about her reference to Nazis.

   Just because someone opposes someone else's views does not qualify the someone else as a Nazi. We tend to over-dramatize matters and call someone a Nazi. The Nazis were, after all, vile and murderous. They were only Number Three in the Top Ten of mass murderers, however. Mao comes in at Number One with the blood of over 50 million on his hands. Stalin was Number Two. Hitler's claim to infamy derived, in part, from the industrialization of extermination developed by his underlings, most notably Adolf Eichmann. The Nazis also imposed their ways on daily life. Richard J. Evans has written a thorough history, a trilogy that gives details of daily life in the Third Reich.

   If someone is a member of the American Nazi Party or some other organization similarly-named, fine: call him or her a Nazi. If someone wears an armband with a swatztika, fine: apparently s/he wants one to draw an inference. If a person stands up and says "I am a Nazi!" realize the person probably is mentally "off" but still is entitled to declare themselves.

   What the demonstrators in New York---and in other cities as the movement spreads---are saying is not evocative of the Nazis. A couple of months ago, teabaggers in Oregon broke up a pot-luck gathering of people opposed to the tea bagger agenda. The Brown Shirts engaged in similar behavior in the lead-up to Hitler's grab of power. If Ms. Coulter wants to label people as Nazi-esque, she is free to do so, obviously. The hyperbole does little to aid in our discussion of problems today. Then again, I don't think she wants so much to solve problems as to sell books.   

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Comment by Kurt Lorey on October 5, 2011 at 12:10pm

Poor Ms. Coulter simply succumbed to the inevitability of Godwin's Law. Sadly for her, a corollary is that whoever brings up Hitler during an argument automatically loses said argument. FAIL, Annie.

 

I would mention that I consider Reinhard Heydrich as the one person most involved with the inception of the industrialization of Nazi genocide. Painful as it was for the poor people of Lidice, assassinating Heydrich in 1942 was one of the smartest moves made by the western Allies during World War II.

 

Still, Eichmann is an interesting case. A man who moved rapidly up the ranks in the Nazi hierarchy, until he became the equivalent of Lieutenant Colonel. After creating plans for the logistics of mass deportation by rail to the various concentration camps, he was transferred to Hungary which lessened his further contributions to the Holocaust. Either the Peter Principle applied, else he had been a very naughty boy, never to be promoted again.

 

Timely too. It's not every day one sees another example of a Lieutenant Colonel in logistics who appears to have reached his "highest level of incompetence".

Comment by Paul K. Ogden on October 5, 2011 at 10:17am

I agree, Mark.  We all get carried away doing that.  I call the anti-smoking zealots, Nazis sometime and it's wrong to do that.  It demeans the seriousness of what happened in the past.

 

It's the same thing I complained of with Congressman Andre Carson.  He said other members of Congress who support the tea party want to see blacks hanging from trees.  Obviously that isn't true.  The overdramization has the effect of undermining the seriousness of a time in history when blacks faced the real possibility of lynching.  Carson's comments trivialize that history.

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