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Your thoughts on my theory behind "Bushhitler"?

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I was thinking about some things today, and a theory occured to me, so I was curious to see what you might think of my reasoning.

I had noticed, previously, that leftists have a tendency to compare George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld with Hitler. I had considered that they simply didn't understand that Bush and Rumsfeld, while not exactly fantastic individuals, are small fry compared to Hitler; in other words, that they were blowing the minor evils of Bush and Rumsfeld all out of proportion.

Now, however, I think that it's not a question of thinking that Bush and Rumsfeld are Satan, but that they don't recognize how evil Hitler was. From Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, among other things) dismissing Hitler's utter destruction of morality as an "idiosyncracy" to seeing the slaughter of millions compared to the smacking-around of a few terrorists in conversation, I'm wondering what the real mental disconnect is, here.

That leads me to another thought: which is worse, mistakenly conflating a few slaps with the slaughter of millions, or conflating the slaughter of millions with a few slaps?

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To put this in some addtional context, I encountered a particularly personal instance of this inversion today, and I'm still debating what I ought to do about it. At times like this I really wish I had even one close friend that I could bounce ideas off; it might help me keep my temper under control so I don't make things even worse.

Enough whining, anyway, here's a link to what my father said to me on my blog (in the comments), so you can see for yourself. Seems pretty innocuous, no? Well, let's look at what this actually happened as I remember it:

My parents and I used to fight a lot when I was growing up, starting when I was 10 or so and continuing until they threw me out of the house (I am not exaggerating that in the slightest). Notable disciplinary events were:

  • being picked up bodily and thrown out onto the balcony in my pajamas, in January, when it was snowing, and locked out there for what I remember as being 15-20 minutes, although it probably wasn't that long.
  • going months at a time when I was forbidden to be in the same room as the television when it was on or use the computer . . . occasionally I was allowed to watch as much as an hour a day
  • missing, (my estimate) 2-3 meals a week due to fights about chores (my parents would refuse to let me eat as a disciplinary method) on one notable occasion escalating to me going on a hunger strike for 3 consecutive days
  • forcing me to go sleep in the attic (which was furnished and habitable, mind you) and refusing to let me have access to any of my personal possessions.
  • forcing me to go to summer school, and to pay for it, because I failed a class
  • My father refusing to attend my 18th birthday, and staying home to watch the Seahawks game on television, because (I think) we were not getting along particularly well at the time. Although I suppose it's possible that he just figured the Seahawks were more important.

(Note I'm not saying I didn't deserve it, I'm just pointing out that it wasn't exactly a rare event, nor non-physical.)

This leaves me debating between alternatives, none of which are very palatable:

1. My father doesn't remember any of this, which additionally leaves me wondering whether his memory is really that bad or whether it just made no impression on him whatsoever

2. He figures my mother was the responsible party in all (or most) of these disciplinary events, and they had nothing to do with him, which I think is unfair to her

3. One of those therapists they were always sending me to hypnotically implanted false memories (I really doubt that, since it's an arbitrary assertion)

4. We have different definitions of "discipline", in which case I'm really glad I didn't experience the real article

5. I'm not included in the definition of "my children" (something I suspect frequently when I'm having a bad day and my parents are getting under my skin)

6. He doesn't respect (or realize) that there was some severe bad blood between us enough to think before making statements like that

What a mess. At the moment, I'm assuming (charitably) that Dad inadvertantly ignored some important context here, which behooves me to be polite in my response and to try to clarify the issue instead of just throwing everything out and assuming the worst, but I really am wondering if some significant underlying problem isn't being illustrated here; the same problem that is represented by the Bush = Hitler idea.

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I guess the question is how many people who actually lived the horror of Nazi Germany and especially survived one of Hitler's concentration camp would say "Bush is as bad as Hitler" -- those are the people who I would not expect to be clueless about the nature of Hitler's evil. Most people these days cannot concretize those events.

My understanding of the Bushhitler posture is that it is one of two sides of the problem of bad identification. Some people deny a relation between events by saying "Those are completely different", finding a small difference and ignoring massive and important similarities. Others find some similarity between two events, and manufacture total identity from that. Both Bush and Hitler invaded a country which had not attacked the US / Germany; both gained a major political advantage from a disaster that resulted in loss of rights in the two nations; both exploited "homeland under siege" fears and I gotta say the second stupidest possible name for a security agency in the post-Nazi era would be "Homeland Security" bested only by "Fatherland Security" as a name sure to invoke the specter of Nazism. Other differences are insignificant. In other words, if it has 4 legs, fur, two eyes, a tail and is carnivorous, it must be a lion.

The procedure seems simple. First identity the goal -- if you're a leftist, then it's whatever would be the anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-Republican position. The opposing position is evil, so you have to invoke the icon of evil. Stalin and Mao were evil leftists, so it's better to forget about them (and no thanks to US policy, we don't have the same aversion to Stalin that we have to Hitler, for no good reason). So it's just natural to compare Bush to Hitler, just as we had silly Nixon-Hitler comparisons. No, not just silly, downright offensive.

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For EvangelicalCapitalist, who will hopefully get moving and become a Patron :P

(I see no reason not to port in things by other members, assuming, that is, that I like what they said--Jennifer)

It appears to me that it is a case of the left being unwilling to render critical moral judgement, except against those who render such judgement. This explains not only the minimization of Hitler, but also the condemnation and outright hatred of Bush. Whatever his faults, he's willing to declare terrorists and their supporting states as "evil," even if he does so for the wrong reasons. It is his moral certainty which is considered evil and which allows the left to equate him with Hitler. It is true that Hitler was morally certain about his actions, but that's not why he was evil. Moral certainty was equally required to oppose him, and was sadly lacking until millions of lives were needlessly spent.

As for the coffee shop owner, he too is rendering moral judgement, albeit on a smaller scale, against parents who fail to discipline their unruly children. He is defending his interests, namely his desire to provide his customers with a civilized atmosphere, by exercising his right not to deal with those who would do harm to those interests.

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  • 2 weeks later...

JMSnow, this is something that I've been noticing with greater frequency. There seems to be a growing inability to distinguish crucial moral differences. If Bush wiretaps suspected foreign terrorists, he’s supposedly establishing a fascist police state and using the Constitution as toilette paper. If he takes pre-emptive action against an outlaw nation run by a genocidal madman, he’s trying to secure more oil supplies for his rich friends and doesn’t give two shakes about the cost in American blood and treasure. I’m no big fan of Bush, but he can’t do anything without being accused of having the most evil motives and intentions. I doubt that he goes to bed at night thinking about how to best exterminate the greatest number of Muslims. Those who accuse him of being a modern-day Hitler have absolutely no sense of moral proportion.

Perhaps our entire culture is being adversely affected by the philosophical implosion that has been occurring on the Left for at least the last three decades. The Left is increasingly obsessed with moral equivalence, which in turn leads to nihilism. As evidence of this, I point to a couple of recent movies from Hollywood. From what I can gather (I haven’t seen either movie, they’ve been described to me), both "Syriana" and "Munich" depict Muslim terrorists as people with whom we can relate. The idea is that if we could all just stop shooting at each other for 5 minutes, we’d find we have many things in common with the suicide bombers. Give me a break.

As far as your father’s comments are concerned, you clearly have different views of your childhood. You may have hit on at least part of the answer in your explanation #1 above. I think it’s fairly common to have the things that a parent does to a child leave a far bigger impression on the kid than on the parent. I know when my dad would scream at me and/or get out his belt, it scared the living hell out of me. Strange, but to this day my mother insists that I was a little angel and they never had to discipline me. Go figure.

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I think you're right about that, gags, on both counts. The thing that interests me is that when I talk to these same liberals about something good that has happened, they can't wait to inform me that I'm viewing the situation all out of proportion no matter what it is that I'm happy about.

Apparently every silver lining has a cloud.

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There is a pervasive cynicism among the left. They believe in nothing, so they're skeptical about nearly everything.

Your dad's comment reminds me of an incident with our daughter. Nicole is now 18 but she still reminds us occasionally that several years ago my wife stuck a bar of soap in her mouth. I can't even remember the specifics of why my wife did this, but it had something to do with my daughter being a disrespectful smartass, which wasn't that uncommon. Neither my wife nor I have ever been very big on physical punishment, so this was out of character and she felt terrible afterward for having done it. Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal, IMO. Nevertheless, whenever Nicole wants to hang some guilt over my wife's head, she brings up the soap incident.

I love both of my kids more than life itself, but there are times when children can drive you absolutely nuts. I'm not defending your parents' actions, just hoping to add a little perspective from someone who has been there.

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My opinion is that the situation with your father is not analogous to the Bush=Hitler phenomena.

It is useful to remember that what one gets from the left is more often their emotions, not their thoughts. In most cases (at least in my experience), "Bush is as bad as Hitler" is not the result of a thought process. It is, rather, a rationalization for an intense hatred of anyone that dares to pronounce moral judgment.

What generates this hatred? Remember, many on the left are victims of the educational comprachico's campaign to cripple their conceptual ability. As Miss Rand explains in her article, “The Comprachicos”, many of them are, quite literally, unable to function on a conceptual level. Their arrested mental development induces a fundamental fear, because they realize, at least intuitively, that they have no way to deal with reality. Complementing this fear is an overwhelming hostility against anyone who does not seem to be as mentally impaired as they are, and especially toward anyone who presumes to pronounce judgment.

(Of course, the degree of mental impairment varies tremendously from victim to victim; I am speaking of the extreme cases, the ones I believe are today’s hard-core leftists.)

How do they deal with this fear and hostility? Many resort to the rationalizations provided by their professors.

In her article, "Philosophical Detection", Miss Rand observes that evil philosophies are systems of rationalizations, and many popular catch-phrases are rationalizations for underlying emotions that one does not wish to face or acknowledge. Well, the comprachicos of the American educational system have turned out two generations of students who are unable to think and are brimming with ugly emotions that require cover.

I believe this explains the bizarre phenomena, very common today, of the leftists who assert the most extreme, even outrageous notions with absolute certainty ( "Bush is Hitler" is but one example), but, when questioned, cannot summon any reasons to support or explain their position. They only know how to emote; they never developed the ability to think. When I question their positions, what I usually hear in response is a stream of insults, cheap smears and various forms of ad hominem. That is when I know I am not dealing with a mind, but rather its crippled remains.

Whatever errors may exist in your father's thinking, I don't think it compares to these people.

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