The Drudge Report, a conservative news aggregator and my Internet browser’s homepage, ran a full-page headline yesterday that read “White House Threatens ‘Executive Orders’ On Guns,” placing the headline under two photos of Hitler and Stalin.
Seeing a perfect opportunity to be sanctimonious, the left, predictably, cranked up their outrage-manufacturing machines to 11, not over the content of the article, mind you, but at the mere pairing of it with the photos of mass-murdering dictators.
Left-wing website Democratic Underground deigned to call it “sickening.” To be fair, this probably was not a case of melodrama on their part; when someone insults your god, you might feel a little queasy too.
Media Matters, which describes itself as a “not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” wrote on its blog, “The argument that commonsense gun violence prevention measures will lead to a dictatorship are common in right-wing media….” They’re also common among wannabe dictators, but nevermind that.
Apparently the rules of common decency have undergone a drastic change; from the year 2000 to the year 2008, it was not “sickening” to compare the president to Hitler, but patriotic. Media Matters themselves made an advertisement that compared George W. Bush to Hitler, and not in any rational way; they simply paired images and superimposed quotes of Bush with audio of Hitler giving a speech in that infamously, er, spirited manner of his. The ad ends with superimposed text ominously asking, “Sound Familiar?”
One need only do a Google image search of “Bush Hitler” to find other comparisons by the left (at least, I assume they weren’t created by Republicans).
Now, on one hand, people need to know the historical significance of gun-grabbing leaders; that if the government wants to take away its people’s guns, we really ought to raise our hackles and question the motive beyond what we’re being told. And we ought to be aware that leaders who seek to become dictators do historically start by taking guns away from their citizens. After all, you can’t take over a country that’s armed to the hilt.
But on the other hand, while I smack around Media Matters and Democratic Underground for their hypocrisy and selective outrage, I will agree with the position they pretend to take, and that is that we really should not be making Hitler or Stalin comparisons. When we make such comparisons, we lose credibility and are seen as nuts.
Just as declaring any and all opposition to a half-black president “racist” diminishes actual cases of racism; just as Vice President Joe Biden’s saying that, simply by reducing spending, Republicans want to put black people back in chains, “y’all,” diminishes the true atrocity of slavery in our past; so too might associating gun-grabbing with Hitler be a little offensive to Jews and diminish all that Hitler actually did.
All that to say, let’s be more responsible with our comparisons.