Friday, October 31, 2008

Duelling Inanities: Give Obama a Break. (Give me a break.)

The highly influential conservative blog, Little Green Footballs has been admirably vigilant in denouncing those who support or apologize for Nazi and neofascist doctrines, from Pat Buchanan to Eurofascists (such as the Vlaams Belang in particular), to groups whose purported  anti-Jihadism (a cause it otherwise espouses with gusto) crosses the line into racism. It goes overboard, however, when it lunges after a remark that Barack Obama made in a 2001 Chicago Public Radio broadcast:
Obama Compared America to Nazi Germany
POLITICS | Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 5:10:01 pm PST

[. . .]

At about 15:30, Obama compares what was going on in the United States during the time of Brown vs. the Board of Education to ... Nazi Germany. Yes, really. Here’s the quote:

“...just to take a, sort of a realist perspective...there’s a lot of change going on outside of the Court, um, that, that judges essentially have to take judicial notice of. I mean you’ve got World War II, you’ve got uh, uh, uh, the doctrines of Nazism, that, that we are fighting against, that start looking uncomfortably similar to what we have going on, back here at home.”

There you have it. America is close to electing a President who compares his own country to Nazi Germany.
Obama's point is simple and had been made by many intelligent and respectable figures before him: The irony that the United States was fighting a war against racist Nazi Germany with an army that segregated black from white soldiers was not lost upon some contemporaries. The NAACP pursued its so-called "Double V" campaign, for victory against fascism abroad and racism at home:  Patriotic military service, the argument ran, was not only right in itself, but also the best way to stake a claim for full rights after the War. The persistence of segregation even following the defeat of Nazism was thus an increasing moral and practical embarrassment. Obama clearly meant no more and no less.

Not to be outdone, Oliver Willis jumps overboard for a little dip in the sea of silliness when he declares:
The mental midgets of Little Green Footballs have gone so far in their defense of the indefensible that they would rather defend the concept of segregation - and maybe slavery too - in order for them to attack Sen. Obama.
Not surprisingly, LGF responds, with indignation, and a corresponding tone, that this is patently untrue:
The world’s dumbest leftist blogger puts his “scary racism” attack face on
[. . . ]
Not one word of that post defends segregation, and not a single comment from an LGF reader defends segregation.

The point is simple, and really not hard to understand unless you’re Oliver Willis: as bad as segregation was (and it was terrible), to compare America during the time of Brown vs. the BOE (when we were dismantling segregation) to genocidal Nazi Germany with its pogroms, death camps, and forced labor camps, and more than six million murders, is not just ludicrous and wrong, it is a morally bankrupt argument that verges on Holocaust denial.
And so the sniping continues.

It is sad: History provides a rich store of materials for exploration in their own right, or as arguments in political debate. The nation faces crises of the proverbial historical proportions. And this is the best we can do?

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