Well, we have a couple more Nazi sightings.
Marisha Agana, a Republican running for Congress in Ohio, tweeted on August 5, “History has a way of repeating itself: Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, and now Obama!!!”
Then there is Dave Mustaine, frontman for Megadeth. After telling a Singapore crowd that President Obama staged the movie theater and Sikh temple shootings in an effort to ban guns, he said, “I don’t know where I’m gonna live if America keeps going the way it’s going because it looks like it’s turning into Nazi America.”
A couple years ago, the term “fascist” was getting thrown at President Obama with reckless abandon. Other labels were popular, too–communist, socialist, Islamicist–and they would sometimes get combined by the clueless fringe in comical ways–like Obama is a fascist communist intent on instituting Sharia law. Nonsense like that. Nazi comparisons were especially popular at Tea Party gatherings. People have backed off somewhat, but Nazi metaphors still get thrown around too easily.
- Rush Limbaugh said, “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate,” and spoke of Obama “sending out his brown shirts,” and that Obama’s healthcare plan “mirrors Nazi Germany’s.”
- When NPR fired Juan Williams, FoxNews chief Roger Ailes said of NPR execs, “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.”
- Glenn Beck compared auto bailouts to “the early days of Adolf Hitler,” compared TARP to “what happened to the lead-up with Hitler,” likened White House criticism of FoxNews to persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, and said Obama’s desire to expand the Peace Corps and Americorps was “what Hitler did with the SS.”
- Newt Gingrich said Obama was threatening America as much as “Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.”
- Bill O’Reilly compared gun control advocates to Hitler, accused the Huffington Post of using Nazi tactics to demonize people (“I don’t see any difference between [Arianna] Huffington and the Nazis”), accused the media of using the tactics of Josef Goebbels, described the Daily Kos blog as “like the Nazi Party. There’s no difference here,” and described Michael Moore’s power as “what happened in Nazi Germany.”
- Sean Hannity said using a Quran for a Congressman’s swearing-in was like using Mein Kampf.
- Ann Coulter called websites like Media Matters “little Nazi block watchers” that “tattle on their parents, turn them in to the Nazis,” and described Obama’s autobiography as a “dime store Mein Kampf.”
- Mark Levin described Obamacare as “Hitleresque.”
- Cal Thomas said Obamacare would lead down the same path that produced Hitler’s 1933 Sterilization Law.
It goes on and on.
The same thing happened during the Bush years, when idiots on the left regularly attached “Nazi” to him. Photos of George Bush in Nazi contexts abound (often the same photos now being used with Obama’s likeness). The website “The Right Perspective” published “A Short History of Liberals Using the Nazi Card.”
The words of Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride apply here: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
So what exactly is fascism?
I did some searching (thank you, Google) and came up with these characteristics.
- Fascism is an ill-defined political ideology that is both authoritarian and nationalist.
- Fascism emphasizes the right of the chosen people to dominate everyone else.
- Fascists believe everyone should serve the nation-state as the embodiment of the popular will.
- Fascism usually arises after a period of political polarization and legislative deadlock.
- Fascism arises from the middle classes, typically accompanied by economic instability which is more threatening to the middle class.
- Fascism mobilizes people through discipline, indoctrination, and physical training.
- Fascists favor eugenics.
- Fascists try to eradicate perceived foreign influences.
- Fascists promote the rule of people deemed innately superior, and purge society of people deemed inferior.
- Fascism emphasizes personal responsibility to the group over individual rights.
- Fascism emphasizes victimhood, and justifies action without constraint against the victimizers.
- Fascists, compared to the general population, tend to be younger and better educated–the type of people more likely to have opportunities blocked by economic instability.
- Fascists use the police and military to enforce order.
- Fascists, using perceived threats to the nation, approve of ignoring human rights and committing torture, executions, assassination, long incarcerations, etc.
- Fascists don’t “seize” power, but once in office they consolidate and expand their power through technically legal means.
- Fascists purge ideas, people, and forces deemed to cause decadence and degeneration.
- Fascism promotes political violence and war to promote national rejuvenation, spirit, and vitality.
- Fascists use paramilitary organizations to commit or threaten violence against opponents.
- Fascists claim their ideology transcends all classes.
- Fascists glamorize the military, and give the military a disproportionate amount of funding.
- Fascists are expansionist, looking to spread their power beyond their own borders.
- Fascists advocate a state-controlled and regulated mixed economy.
- Fascist governments are mostly male-dominated, and traditional gender roles are made more rigid.
- Fascists censor the media to protect the nation state.
- Fascist governments use fear as a motivational tool to control the masses.
- Fascists are hostile to financial capital, plutocracy, and the power of money.
- Fascists criminalize employee strikes and lockouts by employers, and otherwise suppress or eliminate unions.
- Fascists tend to be socially conservative.
- Fascists have a disdain for intellectuals, science, the arts, and academia.
- Fascists often give a national police force almost unlimited power, which people accept in the name of patriotism.
- Fascists make a fetish out of flags and other nationalistic paraphernalia.
- Fascists don’t tolerate dissent.
- Fascism is neither a right or left ideology.
As you can see, fascism can’t be tied to either the Republican or Democratic party. Some characteristics seem to fit more with either liberal or conservative ideology; you could go through each characteristic and say, “This is more likely with conservatives” and “This one is more likely with liberals.” But the whole package doesn’t fit anything in the American political scene.
Godwin’s Law, also known as Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies, states that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler and the Nazis. But Godwin’s Law also applies to political discourse in other areas–on the floor of Congress, on news channels, on radio, in newspapers, on Facebook, and at the office water cooler. To press their point, people can’t help themselves–they just have to make a comparison to Hitler as the ultimate evil.
In so doing, they trivialize what the Nazis did. And they make themselves look stupid.