Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In which we go Godwin

You know who else used to talk nonstop about freedom? Via TodoPorMéxico.
Via Mother Jones:
At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Carson noted that many people believe a situation like what took place in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's could never happen in America. "I beg to differ," Carson said. "If you go back and look at the history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts, it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech."
At a press conference after the speech, reporters asked Carson who he thinks is like Adolf Hitler in the U.S. "I'm not going to go into that that. I think that example is pretty clear," he responded, without elaborating.
Running away, as you see, from his poison remarks. Carson loves to complain about "political correctness" preventing him from talking about slavery and Nazism, though as has been noted, he talks about them unhesitatingly all the time, but what's really wrong with what he does is the cowardly way he does it, throwing those scary words out into the discourse and then just leaving them there, refusing responsibility.

If Obamacare is the worst thing in American history since slavery, for example, why is it? What is it about the Affordable Care Act that is in some way comparable to the Peculiar Institution? I mean, completely apart from the question of whether the ACA is a good thing or not, who are the people of the ACA who are in some sense analogous to the people of slavery? Where's the structural parallel, what are the common points? I don't think there are any, of course, I think it's just pure bullshit, but that's not the way his audience is thinking: to them Obamacare is something vague and terrifying, just some scary thing involving doctors and money, probably, a menace without content, and they know they're supposed to be frightened at the thought of slavery too. The analogy is that both are terrifying in some way they can't begin to comprehend, and that's the feeling Dr. Ben Carson encourages.

It's not rules of "political correctness" he's violating, it's the Ninth Commandment: he is bearing false witness. Every time he gives us one of these crazy analogies and then backs out of the conversation, refusing to explain what he means but refusing to withdraw it as well, he is reinforcing a Big Lie.

Incidentally, history has covered how tyranny and despotism got started in Germany in the 1930s, and it might be worth reminding everybody that the control of thought and speech was an effect, not a cause. Practically speaking, what brought the NSDAP to power was when a good old-fashioned upright and uptight austerity-conservative movement figured out a way of getting a majority they couldn't win in an election: by inviting some violently insane people into the government, Herr Hitler and a couple of his friends, and the deluded racist rabble that followed them.

I'll bet they weren't worried about Herr Hitler: I'll bet old Marshall von Hindenburg told himself Hitler was too crazy and ill-educated to be a functioning prime minister and would allow the forces of decency and breeding, the natural masters, to run the country. And within months the crazies were wholly in charge, had ditched the constitution, and the control of speech and thought was underway.

I'm not saying this always happens! Really just opening up an example of how you build a historical analogy that you don't have to run away from, with some actual content. But I will stand by it: decent though selfish wealthy conservatives in the US have been playing for decades with the same kind of fire that Marshall von Hindenburg inadvertently dumped on the German people in 1933, and with the advent of Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump and their proposals amounting to a kind of institution of anti-minority martial law, and Trump's "passionate fans" beating up the opposition without any reproof from their Leader, the threat is getting real.

Update: And here, per Alicublog, are Ed Driscoll, Rich Lowry, and John Podhoretz out suddenly evincing a "strange new respect" for Donald Trump, right on cue, I'd say.

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