Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tomorrow in the Akron Legal News

First off, insert the usual self-recriminations and apologies about not posting here. Suffice it to say that my estimate of the time it would take to get back up to speed after vacation, then get myself and the kids ready for school to begin this week for the lot of us was uproariously low.

And in all of that syllabus-revising, class-preparing, orientation-attending chaos I wrote this week's column. I took on the Obama=Hitler trope that has infested our politics. Actually I dialed back to the first round of comparisons during the election. I'm not going to link to any of the idiots that made those arguments, but here is a convenient list.

Back in the day, the nuttier of the wingnuts wrote laughable thumbsuckers about how Obama may be the next Hitler because his supporters like him so much. And he writes books. And stuff. My slant on this is that one of the many many many ways in which the argument is dead flat busted wrong is that it assumes that Hitler looked perfectly alright until he took power. This is, I believe a fairly widespread misconception across the land. The perception seems to be that Hitler was this charismatic guy that people liked because of the charisma and they supported him without really knowing what he was about.

In fact, Hitler's public record made pretty clear that he was that guy all along. He made clear all along that he was an anti-Semite with expansionist plans and dictatorial ambitions. To really draw a parallel, you would have to find a chapter in Audacity of Hope where Obama argues for monoxide for septigenarians.

It irks me in the first instance because people who believe stuff that's demonstrably untrue always irk me. It's why, for example, that I can never walk away from the fight when Troothers show up at the party.

But beyond that, there are real consequences to all this nonsence. If we do allow totalitarianism to take hold in this country, it's far more likely to be in response to some real or perceived threat from an identifiable group. But if someone try to just gently suggest that sweeping generalizations against the Muslim world are not just unseemly but represent the potential first step down a very ugly road, the rightysphere erupts in recrimination about how un-American he/she is.

This is a tricky argument, btw. I'm not arguing either that radical Islam poses no threat or that we shouldn't address that threat. And I'm certainly not arguing that any frank talk about terrorism is analogous to Hitlerism. But if one is realistic about how Hitler used fear of the Other to rise to power, it's clear that we have to be careful about striking a narrow balance.

Anyway, for those with ready access to the News, that's what you'll find tomorrow. And for those of you who don't, feel free to let them know how much you'd like to be able to access my column online and would certainly surf by every other Wednesday to do so it and that by the way you are the type of person who tends to pay outsized attention to internet ads and frequently click though them just in case the sponsors of the fine journalism you are enjoying for free happen to have a good/service that you may want to purchase..

Can't hurt is what I'm thinking.