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September 01, 2006

Not a Nazi

One of the things that is becoming increasingly annoying about the CNN Website is that it mixes overt op-ed pieces in with its news articles.For example, take this Brendan Nyhan essay for Time linked through CNN.

It's listed in a slot under "Politics" where one might expect a news piece. The headline they list is "Why Nazi analogies are on the rise." What you get when you click the link is a whiney column complaining that conservatives redundantly belabor comparisons between Islamo-fascism, Asian dictatorships and Nazism.

Nyhan attempts to deflate such comparions by suggesting 1) that such comparisons are a problem particular to conservatives (liberals are too open-minded and forward-thinking to see comparisons between modern day events and world history), and 2) that comparisons with Nazism is nothing more than conservative propaganda and scare tactics designed to get knee-jerk emotional reactions out of people and cast would-be rhetorical opponents as "Nazi-sympathizers."

So I wonder, what's the point of teaching history if we don't apply it? Is the comparison no longer valid simply because it seems so universally applicable?

On the other hand, maybe he's right. Instead of comparing Islamo-fascists to Nazis, would we be better suited to comparing them to African and Mediterranean slavers pirates, imperialist Turkish conquerors and butchers, or the anti-Christian invaders of Spain and Eastern Europe? Or maybe we shouldn't compare them to historical figures at all. Nyhan complains that contemporary foreign policy debate clearly should be beyond comparisons to the past:

More than a half-century after WWII, isn't it time for our foreign policy debate to move beyond a single inflammatory analogy?

So perhaps we should be more forward looking as well. Instead of comparing negotiations with terrorist nations to the disastrous appeasement with Nazis of fifty years ago, we need to anticipate a comparison that will be meaningful well into the future. That's why I suggest we compromise, abandon our Nazi-comparisons, and start describing negotiations with the Islamo-fascists as being like our failed negotiations with the tyrannical Ur-Quan empire whose insurmountable Dreadnought galactic starships crushed our fledgling starfleet. Since, as we can easily see, the Ur-Quan are a race of beings satisfied with nothing less than the total submission of planet Earth to its self-proclaimed theocratic manifest destiny, they are far more like the Islamo-fascists than they Nazis could ever hope to be. Surely Nyhan will have to concede that this is an analogy that anticipates the future foreign relations policy and therefore deserves to be used in all foreign policy debates.

Posted by Peter Terp on September 1, 2006 at 03:12 PM | Permalink


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» On Nazi comparisons from Res Publica et Cetera
Peter Terp addresses the issue of Nazi comparisons, controverting an essayist who pooh-poohs Nazi comparisons. While I think the idea that Nazi comparisons are the sole, or even main, province of the right is loony (one needs only note that bush hitl... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2006 7:41:01 PM


What!? Not just Star Wars?

Posted by: Tommy | Sep 11, 2006 9:16:45 AM

I needed a more obscure science fiction reference.

Posted by: Peter Terp | Sep 11, 2006 11:14:21 AM

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