Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reductio ad Hitlerum

Also known as Godwin's Law, the longer an argument continues (and when one side is usually bankrupt of ideas), the "probability of a reference or comparison to Hitler becomes one."

Rep. Paul Broun Links Obama to Hitler:

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun's fear that President-elect Barack Obama might take Americans' guns and use a new national security force to declare himself dictator, as Hitler did in Nazi Germany, is a legitimate concern, the Athens Republican said Tuesday.

A day after raising the possibility that Obama could be the next Hitler or a Soviet-style Marxist leader, Broun stood by his remarks and defended them as appropriate for a congressman.

"I firmly believe that we must not fall victim to the 'it can't happen here' mentality," Broun said in a news release Tuesday. "I adhere to the adage 'eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.' "

Whatever that means. In a related article in today's AJC, Broun supposedly "apologized" for the remark, but I'm not sure which story, both dated 11/11, is current.

Regardless, the remarks of the Republican Party chairman here in Clarke County defending Broun are equally disturbing as well.
County Republican chairman James Box of Clarke county, which is in Broun’s district, also defended his congressman’s earlier comments.

“President-elect Obama has a background — and some of his statements he’s made — that lead many of us to believe that he has very socialist orientations,” Box, 77, said, adding that the national press has not examined the incoming president vigorously enough.

“I wouldn’t say he’s going to be a Hitler, but what Paul Broun says is that he has a potential for being a Hitler.”

What's interesting is that this kind of rhetoric preceded the swearing-in of Bill Clinton in 1992, when after making a post-election speech calling for a "Re-United States of America," he was branded a "socialist" and "Hitlerian" by his ideological detractors.

I'm not surprised by these kinds of kooky remarks generally. One can find all sorts of bile and ignorance on blogs, chat rooms, social networking sites and newsgroups. But when comments such as this come from a sitting U.S. Representative (mine, no less) and so quickly on the heels of one party's defeat , it does become somewhat disconcerting.

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