1/20/20: REDUCTIO AD HITLERUM – POLITICAL LOGICAL FALLACY

MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS

Today I was monitoring the gun lobby protest in Virginia.  Like many Americans, I was worried that the situation would escalate into something that would push us to the point of no return.

Well, I am grateful that my worries were for nothing as the protest happened without incident.

There was one arrest though.

Twenty-one-year-old  Mikaela Beschler was arrested by a Richmond police officer who was working Lobby Day.

She was charged with one felony count of wearing a mask in public on the 800 block of East Broad Street.

According to police, the arrest resulted after the officer saw Beschler for a third time with a bandanna covering her face.

He had repeatedly warned her on two separate occasions to adjust the bandanna.

The 1950s-era law aimed at unmasking the Ku Klux Klan in Virginia makes it illegal for anyone over the age of 16 to conceal their face, and therefore their identity, in public. The felony carries a maximum of five years in prison.

There were a lot of people that covered their faces, mostly because of the cold –so we can assume that she was part of some anti-fascist group that wanted some attention.

Police estimated 22,000 people attended Monday’s gun-rights rally in Richmond.

Estimates from the Joint Information Center, made up of spokespeople from Capitol, Richmond and Virginia State Police, say about 6,000 people were allowed into Capitol Square with another 16,000 outside the gates.

Organizers had said they expected 50,000 people to attend.

There was a mixed bag of information going around the internet about a clash between Antifa and gun enthusiasts.

According to Vice.com in what they called a “bizarre meeting of the minds,” Richmond-based Antifa Seven Hills issued a statement strongly opposing the gun measures now likely to become law since Democrats won control of both Virginia houses last year, and they too want Democratic leaders in Richmond to know.

However, counter to that report there was an entry on Reddit that claimed that Antifa issued a hit list of people that they claimed were Nazis.

Apparently, Antifa in Virginia believes in a well-armed left.

I guess for the moment we can marvel at something that both the right and the left can agree upon in Virginia and that is that the second amendment should not be infringed.

However, that sentiment is not shared by  many outside Virginia,

David Hogg the well known Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor and anti-gun lobbyist issued a statement on twitter about responsible gun legislation. However, he sullied his message by ending it with, “F- Nazis.”

Ironically, Hogg looked like a skinhead in a video response to the Virginia gun lobby.

He appeared with a shaved head and spent sent much of  the day mocking the gun-rights activists who marched on the Virginia Capitol in Richmond as insecure fascist wannabes in the thrall of white supremacy who need to read a book.

Over several hours, Mr. Hogg sent out dozens of tweets and retweeted dozens more containing a farrago of insult and condescension, and he repeatedly characterized the march as a Nazi enterprise.

He tweeted “VA is in a state of emergency because white supremacists and Nazis are using their 2nd amendment rights to shut down the 1st Amendment rights of students, veterans, and clergy.”

Again Hogg is a perfect example of those who virtue signal on Twitter rather that going and participating in fair and honest debate.  His message would have weighed in better if he would keep the elementary school playground antics to a minimum instead of resorting to reductio ad Hilterum.

It is ad hominem, ad Nazism, ad nauseam, and, it is becoming a worn-out way of maligning a political opponent.

It is also becoming alarming to me that even those who wish to be neutral or objective are now being labeled Nazis by the rabid left-wing extremists that don’t bother to read books or check their history.

It is the political equivalent of crying wolf and misplaced comparisons trivialize the real tragedy of Nazism. I would go as far as saying that throwing around the term Nazi also devalues the unique tragedy of the holocaust.

But I am sure the sensitive and woke like David Hogg doesn’t care what they trivialize and so they liberally throw out the term to political opponents not caring who they hurt or even malign.

In fact, comparing someone to Hitler to invalidate their point is so popular it’s been given its own fake Latin name, the reductio ad Hitlerum – a play on the very real logic term reductio ad absurdum. It’s mostly used to point out the fallacy of comparing almost anyone to Hitler.

In 1990, an American lawyer named Mike Godwin noticed that arguments on early internet forums would constantly resort to calling the other side a Nazi.

And so Godwin’s Law – that if an online discussion goes on long enough sooner or later someone will make a comparison to Hitler – was born, and became a “rule of the internet”.

But Godwin originally coined the phrase to point out how ridiculous the comparison always is.

We live in an era of worry and wait.  We are seeing before our eyes those who wish to take away our rights and freedoms and we worry that everyone we vote into power will be totalitarian.

Even after we vote in someone who we think will lead us, we end up worrying that the one we have chosen to lead us is the new Hitler.

However, we have now stopped waiting for the new Hitler and have used him and Nazi philosophies as a way to malign political opponents.

Calling anyone a Hitler or a Nazi has become egregious.

Moreover, the Nazi name-calling and the action of trivializing the tragedy has been allowed to continue as part of a dangerous narrative that contributes to despotism.

Narratives are stories told in social circles that have plotlines with good guys and bad guys that perform specific actions with expected outcomes. Narratives are created in such a way to teach society a lesson or guide the social norms and practices. Much of what you do is based on your framed narrative of reality, every myth you believe and every narrative that you cling to makes up who you are. As a man thinks, so he is.

What he does with those thoughts are what give him a consequence.

There are many people who are looking for answers to questions about the distribution of power and wealth in the world. They need answers about crime, political corruption, and the cover-ups of uncomfortable information.

Many of them look to mainstream media outlets for this information and find themselves coming up empty. Now, with the Internet, it is possible for individuals to find new outlets that reinforce their opinion of the world, reinforce their own perspectives and unfortunately their own prejudices.

Of course, nowhere are Nazi slurs more numerous than on the internet and it’s always been that way.

When David Hogg urges Virginian gun activists to read a book, I wonder if he has ever read anything about the Nazis or if he just shoots from the hip in an insensitive and vial way.

Someone should ask him if he knows what it was like to be Jewish in the time of Hitler – we know what his answer will be – or maybe it would be enough to shut him up and anyone else who wishes to attack people with opposing political views with this axiom.

Overwrought comparisons to the Nazis are both historically illiterate and an extreme strategic misstep.  Those who use it without thinking appear to be unhinged.

The fabric of American society just does not seem to be as strong as it used to be. In fact, many would argue that society is coming apart at the seams.

Corruption and decay seem to be everywhere. The reaction is equally interesting and, to some degree, circumstances are becoming unbearably uncomfortable for most

What is ironic is that the United States remains exceptional, even in regard to its unique despotism.

It is as if the younger generations who cry Fascist or Nazi do not see themselves as contributing to both.

While people worry and wait for the next totalitarian in our midst, raising the specter of Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin or Mao to slander their political opponents is merely a projection in this case – a matter of logical fallacy as the pot is calling the kettle black.

The United States is not quite the totalitarian hell that Hitler or Stalin created but with enough effort, those who see Hitler everywhere will put us right back in the 1930s.

In the United States, it is now anathema to even speak of the Constitution or even patriotism as it leads to discussions of jingoism and misplaced nationalism which often dovetails into the Godwin argument of a Nazi takeover of America propagated by President Donald Trump.

Outrage has become the signature emotion of American public life.

It has become an American entitlement but with so much outrage over so many unimportant things, it becomes less effective and while the world is protesting the encroachment of the New World Order—we appear to be attacking ourselves over identity politics and the notion that you are either a Nazi or a Communist.

It is an argument over a misplaced or ill-defined fascism that is neither important nor is it beneficial as the whole world is enraged over the globalist empire keeping us enslaved.

A society that goes on in this way will exhaust itself. America is content with eating itself as its hate grows and division fragments this country into several spheres and collectives declaring war on each other.

Falling for the divisiveness of the fragmented groups will leave us unable to be immune to the proposed state-socialist move into world government.

When everyone is outraged, we lose sight of who we are as a united front. The real grievances lose their meaning, and the endless outrage becomes, objectively, immoral.

As many Americans look to Nazi or Communist history for analogs to help glean some future American despotism, the United States has been crafting its own unique despotism right under our hysterical noses.

The United States of America is as divided as it has been for at least 100 years. The two major parties disagree on whether or not certain problems even exist, and most voters vote not in support of their candidate, but in opposition to the opposing one. It can seem like the regions of the country are acting like nations that fight and yet here we are all together in a bordered gulag where the prisoners do not want to unite over anything.

We are conflicted along lines of party, region, education, and class and these divisions have left us with a broken political system. We all love our country, but we can’t even agree on why and how to love it.

There has long been an argument, roughly along the lines of conservatism and progressivism, about whether to love America for what it has been or what it should be. The right inclines to American exceptionalism, and the sense that our nation’s roots in self-evident moral truths render it a unique force for good in the world and make its politics distinctly elevated.

The left or those who claim to be progressive today seem to be in the business of grooming justice warriors who are out to undo the sins we have allegedly committed as a country. It seems as though guilt and victimhood are rendered as currency where accusations fly about everything from misogyny, sexual misconduct to racism and white privilege.

How easily are we molded and divided for a form of soft despotism that won’t go full Nazi or full Soviet Russia but somewhere in the middle with the same cult dynamic that have destroyed republics of the past.

Alexis de Tocqueville predicted this “soft despotism” long ago. In 1840, the second volume of Tocqueville’s, Democracy in America, was published. In the chapter, What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear, Tocqueville muses on the future of democratic societies and their potential for tyranny.

After dispensing with the idea that democratic despotism will look anything like that of the ancients, Tocqueville paints a picture of the future whereby a nation of isolated men, in pursuit of self-interest, are close to their fellow citizens without seeing them, touching one another without any real sense of feeling.

It is a good face on a bad situation and sometimes that is how I feel about President Trump – it is not unique as I felt the same way about President Obama—however, I felt more like Obama would surrender our sovereignty more so than Trump.

Tocqueville writes:

“Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness, such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting.

Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

With regard to the protesters in Virginia, they certainly should be praised for taking a risk at trying to expose the soft despotism in the country.

They showed us that we cannot rely on the state to protect us from the turmoil with draconian laws that infringe on the Second Amendment.

Those who hide behind their twitter and Facebook accounts calling them Nazis should be ashamed of themselves.

If we want the government to stop violating our individual rights in the name of preventing suffering, then perhaps people should stop being so enraged and blaming every wicked or tragic thing that happens in this world as a failure due to a lack of government control and action.

Calling out Nazis are fine when real Nazis show up but those in Virginia were not Nazis and there were many different groups that represented the republic and agreed upon what true government overreach is.

There were even a group of Black Panthers who showed up in Richmond to support the Second Amendment.

I’d like to see some punk kid like David Hogg call them Nazis.

In Virginia, the people spoke – both right-wing and Antifa.  They agreed that they needed to take matters into their own hands against what they perceived to be an overreach.

The Twitter activists who contribute to the Nazi name-calling gives us a reason to worry.

It is not that the majority of Americans are ignorant of our unique form of despotism or our loss of liberties.

It is the social justice warriors on Twitter and Facebook that are simply too comfortable with the state making decisions for them and enacting laws that are most definitely fascist.

As far they are concerned, any American who cares for liberty, especially if he or she decides to protest and fights for liberty in the public square should be torn down, maligned bullied, and censored.

Again these actions begin to reflect on the memories of Mao, Stalin, and of course, Hitler.

But again they are without blame because they are the ones who are screaming Fascist and Nazi to those who wish to keep their constitutional rights.

They are simply too comfortable or too scared or too lovingly despotic in their quest for maligning their so-called Nazi enemies to care for liberty at all.

 

 

 

 

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