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Sun Apr 7, 2013, 07:15 PM

Mike Huckabee's Reductio ad Hitlerum

Former Arkansas governor, and formerly relevant national political figure, Mike Huckabee is guilty of the latest right wing reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy. The Tea Party and right wing penchant for comparing President Obama to Hitler and Stalin is evidence not of any totalitarian tendencies on the part of Obama. Instead it is evidence that right wing contempt for science is now rivaled by contempt for learning anything about history.

Stalin and Hitler are among the most brutal murderers and dictators of the 20th, or any other, century. Most of the world knows this. To the right wing of the Republican Party, apparently, Stalinism is a system of governance where the marginal tax rate exceeds 35 percent, while the Nazi regime, according to Huckabee's newest insight, was one characterized by gun control.

Stalin and Hitler are now figures from history. As recently as 1996, the Republican Party nominated somebody who had fought and been injured fighting the Nazis. For most of the 20th century there were numerous members of Congress who had either served their country during World War II or been victims of Naziism, but that is not the case anymore. Similarly, most of the people on the far right are too young to have any personal memory of the Soviet Union. Perhaps this is why these accusations now come so much more easily to the leaders of the right wing today.

Using Communists and Nazis as a way to bludgeon one's political opponents with powerful, if poorly constructed, political arguments is nothing new, but it is seems much more frequent now, with Obama a much bigger target than any previous president. Most of the more aggressive of these attacks come not from powerful Republican politicians but from media personalities like Huckabee, Tea Party activists or people on the fringes of political life. The failure of Republicans in more senior positions to speak out against this has now become so ordinary that it is rarely remarked upon, but it is still significant.



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