Sitting across a table or counter opposite a person with some noticeable flaw, say a wart on the left cheek, one is simply unable to not focus on that wart, consciously or unconsciously. That darn wart just seems to call attention to itself, even if the other person is otherwise a stunning physical specimen. No matter with how much concentration one musters to avoid looking at the offensive growth, our eyes just naturally drift back to it.
Television news and print cameras seem to have the same problem, though in this case the impulse is never unconscious. When Americans of any particular political persuasion congregate to protest a particular policy or politician, the camera always seems to find the warts in the crowd, and, of course, these are the images that end up on the front page of the newspaper, or the lead story of the evenings TV broadcasts.
During the recent Bush administration, crowds of Lefties regularly congregated to demonstrate their opposition to his policies, and the cameras always seemed to find large Liberal warts to focus on. The same is true of the anti-Obama rallies, as the most offensive of the Conservative protesters Rightie signs invariably find their way onto the media. These two disparate groups are as different as night and day, and neither group seems able to find agreement on anything with the other, even on basic demonstrable facts. However, thier respective warts share a striking and arresting similarity: Both groups were and are quite fond of protest signs utilizing the symbolism and imagery of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis to stain the other side with the Mark of Evil.
With the increasing polarization of politics in America, these sorts of signs proliferate. We’ve all seen them: Bush with a Hitler mustache putting the Blitzkrieg on the Muslims, Obama-Hitler pushing dreaded Socialism on the freedom-loving American people, etc.. But it is not just at protest rallies that one encounters this the-other-guy-is-Hitler rhetoric. Mainstream ‘newscasters’ and political pundits on both sides increasingly utilize these over-the-top Hitler comparisons, while claiming them to be valuable and apparent historical analogy. The other side is never just of another, opposing opinion, or even just wrong; they are Hitler.
This phenomenon clearly demonstrates that popular perceptions of what Hitler really was, and what he actually did, are very far removed from reality. That so few seem to realize that comparing any American president with Adolf Hitler is just utter nonsense illustrates this sad fact.
The latest manifestation of the Hitler Stain tactic is the reaction to Arizona’s new anti-immigration bill. It is quite obvious that this law opens the door to rampant racial profiling, but the "Show us your papers" Nazi comparisons ignore the pertinent fact that the Gestapo weren’t checking peoples documents to catch them trying to enter Germany, but just the opposite. Those caught in Arizona without the proper documentation are sent back to their country of origin, not a death camp. But these facts are either not known to those who make such comparisons, or are just ignored.
Likewise, those who claim that Obama’s policies are inflicting Hitler-style Socialism on America seem quite unaware that the Nazis were Socialists in name only, while thier actual policies were Fascist and the exact opposite of Socialism. Most Americans don’t have a workable grasp on what Socialism actually is. The phenomenon of Tea Party protesters cashing their Social Security checks to buy paint for their "Obama is a Socialist" signs is not a Leftie myth. It is in this way that the lack of understanding concerning the true nature of Hitler’s legacy infects modern politics with inane ideological dogmas and straw-man targets of no worth. It is thus obvious that a better understanding of these Hitler-related issues is necessary to influence public discourse in a positive way. This is the purpose of this Blog.
The forum is now open to questions. Who will be first?