Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Godwin's Law and Moral Cretinism

This is way, way over the top. Ads comparing Bush to Hitler? What moral universe are those who run MoveOn.org living in, that they should make such vile comparisons with a straight face? Anybody who seriously claims that Bush and Hitler have a great deal in common is either insane, a shameless liar or hopelessly ignorant. There is a great deal to legitimately dislike about Bush's policies, but last I heard there weren't actually American Gestapo-men rounding up liberals and sending them off to concentration camps to be worked to death (no, Guantanamo is not Sobibor or Birkenau!), measures weren't being passed institutionalizing discrimination against any particular groups in American society, nobody's property was being seized in the name of "Aryanization" or anything of the sort, neither Paul Krugman nor any other opinionated liberal had fled the country in fear of his life (this despite the promises of Alec Baldwin and other Hollywood types), and gas chambers weren't being built in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Say what you will about the competence with which post-war planning was carried out, but for the great majority of Iraqis, life is a lot freer now than it was before the American invasion. Electricity may still be erratic in some quarters, and not everyone has jobs, but Iraq was no land of milk and honey ante-bellum either; in any case, the Bush administration has publicly committed itself to both the expenditure of gargantuan sums to rebuild Iraq and the pursuit of substantial debt forgiveness for any future sovereign Iraqi government; the Poles, the Ukrainians and the Russians would have counted themselves lucky indeed if Hitler had ever given the slightest thought of a positive nature to their livelihoods or infrastructure ("The Russians are a ridiculous rabbit family", "No vaccination for the Russians!") Bush has gone out of his way to state that he has no quarrel with Islam per se, so much so that many in the blogging world make fun of his "Religion of Peace" line by simply calling it "ROP" for short; how does this gibe Hitler's demonization of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, Freemasons and other imagined "enemies of the Volk?" In virtually every respect in which one examines the actions of the two men, there is hardly any way in which they bear any real similarity, and yet these idiots at MoveOn.org see fit to make comparisons that ought to make any sane person nauseous!

If Bush does bear comparison to another historical figure, it is not Hitler, as the intellectually addled characters as MoveOn.org imagine, but a hero of the liberal left - Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like Roosevelt before him, he is a deeply polarizing figure, loved by his supporters with the same scary intensity that he is loathed by his opponents, who label him a dangerous "radical" out to remake American society beyond all recognition. Like Roosevelt, again, Bush has seized on chance circumstances to launch a war against a state (Saddam's Iraq, Hitler's Germany) he considers a menace to world peace, even though his domestic opponents argue (with some justification) that the real enemy (Japan, the Taliban) is not the one he has chosen to focus his energies on defeating. If there are respects in which the two men aren't all that similar, they are in ways which belie shrill claims that Bush is America's Hitler; unlike Hitler and Roosevelt, Bush lacks the overwhelming popular support to stay the course in executing a costly costly foreign policy, and there is a strong political temptation for him to simply declare victory and bring the troops home as soon as possible, in time for the 2004 elections, whatever the consequences for Iraq's future - exactly the opposite course to that which the advocate of Lebensraum preferred to take, even when the tide of battle had turned and his generals begged him to allow them to trade space for time by carrying out planned retreats.

If I were a Democratic Party politician and saw what MoveOn.org had put up, I would move as rapidly as possible to dissociate myself from that organization, as the main effect of this sort of deranged politicking is to make those who advocate it seem like unbalanced partisans with a tenuous grip on reality. No gang of lunatics can be allowed to hijack a great party's cause to promote whatever nonsense they see fit, and it's past time to remind the freelancers at MoveOn.org who's really in charge.

UPDATE: It appears that the facts aren't quite what they seemed when I first wrote this post, as the site's founder, Wes Boyd, has disclaimed responsibility for both ads, which were supposedly 2 of 1500 independent submissions solicited by their competition. It's good to see that even the committed partisans at MoveOn.org recognize that those two pieces transgress the boundaries of moral decency, but I can't help feeling some irritation at Boyd's attempt to mitigate their offensiveness by essentially saying "Nobody criticized the Republicans for doing something similar!" Yes, the GOP should have been condemned for comparing Daschle and Cleland to Bin Laden, but two wrongs still don't make a right.

At the same time, I'm extremely annoyed at the RNC website for misrepresenting the independent contributions of 2 of 1500 outsiders as if they were centerpieces of MoveOn.org's advertising strategy. That is just plain dishonest, and makes me unlikely to ever take anything uttered by the RNC at face value in future (not that I often did before); one could easily (and with greater honesty) pick the worst posts on Free Republic and use them to smear the GOP as a party of ignorant creationists, protectionists, racists and xenophobes. This farrago leaves no party smelling of roses.