Fun with Fallacies: The Hitler Fallacy

When you don't have a good argument, just use the Hitler Analogy!

I love the blog The NonSequitur. It is a logical analysis of political Media. While most of the politics is over my head (since I'm not much of fan of politics) I do enjoy seeing a fallacy get a good rogering! One day this week they talked about Nazi Analogies in the political sphere.

Earlier this month I posted an article on eight reasons why it was a fallacy as used by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor while discussing governments ruled by reason alone.

Anne Applebaum in her Washington Post column said the following about it.
The Hitler Analogy

No, I am not drawing comparisons between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, two vastly different men, by citing these statements. Nevertheless, it is clear from the above that Bush and Putin, despite their vast differences, share a common contemporary ailment: Each suffers from the inexplicable need to inject the Nazis into current political debate, whether they belong there or not.

True, it seems that Nazi analogies can be used with almost infinite flexibility.


It is so widespread that it is listed in the taxonomy of Fallacies over at the The Fallacy Files.
"The Hitler Card" from The Fallacy Files

And like a cool breeze on a warm summers day, Jamie Steele uses it in my article on "Brains 'Trust Machinery' Identified".

To which Evan pointed out this was predicted by Godwins Law

Hoist up the Jolly Roger, let out the sails! Catch that breeze and muster up ramming speed MATEYS, HAR!

16 comments:

zilch said...

Didn't Hitler inspire Darwin? That proves that evolution is the work of the Devil.

Lee Randolph said...

Can I get a "HAR MATEYS?"

and the congregation reverently says
"har mateys"

SteveJ said...

It's appropriate to reflect on Hitler when we're trying to profit from the lessons of history. That's valid. We don't want to make those same horrible mistakes again.

But the political left's silly usage of Hitler as a smear against the right -- which comes up ridiculously often -- is anything but valid. It's the weapon of zealots bereft of reasonable arguments. When faced with facts and logic, they get red-faced angry and blabber out, "Yeah ... well you're just like Hitler. You're a Nazi. You're a fascist." (Hitler was a socialist, of course, giving him more kinship with the left than the right.)

By the way, politics brings me to a question. Why do so many of you guys, after dumping Christianity in favor of reason, go on to adopt leftist politics? There are few things on earth so profoundly unreasonable.

Could it be the pendulum effect? You know: The fundies from my old church are right-wingers, so I'm going to be the opposite.

Just a thought.

Rotten Arsenal said...

stevej,

I can't speak for any others who have rejected christianity and the like, but I still stay fairly true to my conservative political views... that is, I want the government to do as little as possible.

I think the problem is that, as I see it, christianity and the political system of the United States don't really overlap. Jesus seemed to preach a respect for governmental authority but that largely, people were supposed to take care of people. It wasn't the governments responsibility.

So with our system, we gave the right view, that claims Jesus as their own but then doesn't rule based on the purported "teachings" of the man. Meanwhile, the left view, while rarely openly rejecting christianity, presents a view of rule that would seem to go along with the fraternal charity proposed by Yeshua... except that they force it on everybody whether they want it or not.

Neither side really represents the christian philosophy so I have to wonder why I have to keep hearing about religion and rule. Of course, because of all the sheep in this country, it's political suicide to say you are an atheist, so I don't see it changing any time soon.

zilch said...

Stevej, you say...

But the political left's silly usage of Hitler as a smear against the right -- which comes up ridiculously often -- is anything but valid. It's the weapon of zealots bereft of reasonable arguments. When faced with facts and logic, they get red-faced angry and blabber out, "Yeah ... well you're just like Hitler. You're a Nazi. You're a fascist."

...and you've got me nodding, "yes, some people on the left do just that"- but then you go on...

(Hitler was a socialist, of course, giving him more kinship with the left than the right.)

...thus doing exactly what you objected to: smearing a political stance by associating it gratuitously with Hitler! Didn't someone wise once say, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Stevej,
By the way, politics brings me to a question. Why do so many of you guys, after dumping Christianity in favor of reason, go on to adopt leftist politics? There are few things on earth so profoundly unreasonable.
I don't know, when you find one let me know what they tell you.

I think its fair to say that Lincolns republican party is a lot different than todays republican party.

Personally I was always for small government, but in the past twenty years, especailly the last eight, the republican party seems to have abandoned 'the small government" ideology. These days, it seems, the libertarians are carrying that flag.

I vote the way of my conscience. My experience is that between two extremes my view lies somewhere between them.

Joe E. Holman said...

Good post, Lee. I have a satire piece coming, based in-part on the ever-so-quick Hitler retort.

(JH)

Shygetz said...

(Hitler was a socialist, of course, giving him more kinship with the left than the right.)

And Jonah Goldberg wins another useful idiot.

Hitler was a fascist, not a socialist. Learn the difference; it's really not that hard. Socialism, at it's core, requires appropriation of the means of production, publicizing the profits and losses. Fascism requires governmental planning of production, but leaves the means of production in the hands of the corporatists, privatizing the profits but socializing the losses. Gaetano Salvemini actually lived in a fascist state; you should read what he had to say sometime before letting yourself be misled by someone as blindingly stupid as Jonah Goldberg.

By the way, politics brings me to a question. Why do so many of you guys, after dumping Christianity in favor of reason, go on to adopt leftist politics? There are few things on earth so profoundly unreasonable.

I will leave aside the bald and unsupported assertion that "there are few things on earth so profoundly unreasonable" and merely point out that I was a liberal as a Christian, and I remain a liberal as a humanist atheist. I, for one, don't see how a Christian can be a neo-conservative in good conscience. I mean, last I heard Jesus never praised nationalism or pre-emptive war, although he did speak on both subjects.

SteveJ said...

Zilch said:

...thus doing exactly what you objected to: smearing a political stance by associating it gratuitously with Hitler!

No, no, that wasn't my intention at all. I'm not saying that American leftists are anything like the Nazis -- they aren't. I guess the point of that comment was to show the irony of quasi-socialists identifying a socialist with the anti-socialist right.

Shygetz said:

And Jonah Goldberg wins another useful idiot.

Thanks. It's been a long time since anyone called me "useful."

Considering the word "socialist" was in the Nazis' own official name, I think I can be pardoned for not sufficiently recognizing your technical distinctions.

For the record, I didn't read Goldberg's book (which seems to have struck a touchy nerve) ... so don't blame him for my misguided opinions.

zilch said...

Stevej, you say:

I guess the point of that comment was to show the irony of quasi-socialists identifying a socialist with the anti-socialist right.

So Hitler was a socialist? I'm afraid I'm going to have to go along with shygetz, and wonder if you know what "socialist" and "fascist" mean, in normal current usage. Just because the name "Nazi" is short for "Nationalsozialist" doesn't mean that Hitler was a "socialist" in any normal meaning of the term. And while I believe that it's always an oversimplification to locate political positions on a linear left-to-right scale, I believe that you are in a distinct minority in placing Hitler on the left.

SteveJ said...

Oh, all right. I'll give you guys that point. Pass the crow.

mikespeir said...

"By the way, politics brings me to a question. Why do so many of you guys, after dumping Christianity in favor of reason, go on to adopt leftist politics?"

I think you'll find a lot of us still lean toward the conservative, stevej. Some of the problem is in perceptions. If you're a Sean Hannity type, you're likely to equate conservatism with the religious right. In America it's basically defined such that an atheist cannot be considered conservative.

Now, it's true we tend to break ranks over things like homosexual rights and so forth. We don't swallow the conservative agenda where we're convinced it defies reason.

Rotten Arsenal said...

mikespeir:

We don't swallow the conservative agenda where we're convinced it defies reason.

Man, it's nice to know I'm not alone...

SteveJ said...

If you're a Sean Hannity type, you're likely to equate conservatism with the religious right.

No, I'm not that type. More of a Neal Boortz type.

Glenn said...

I'm tempted to coin a fallacy: The "kneejerk to Hitler comparison" fallacy."

The way some people react against the comparison to Hitler suggests that not even an out-and-out Hitler worshipping modern day Nazi could be compared to Hitler. The fact is, if a person does something that makes it morally relevant to compare them to Hitler, then why not make th comparison?

Call me crazy, but it seems to me that relevantly similar things can be fairly compared.

Lee Randolph said...

Right glenn,
comparing a dictator to hitler would be one likely valid use of the comparison.