Yesterday a friend of mine committed a very serious faux pas, in my opinion. He made a statement, which is a tremendous pet peeve of mine, which I consider reprehensible, which I think merits a rant on my part. It was a very concise statement backed up with a news article. I’ll repeat their comment here for you:
How often this suggestion is made, that the United States or one of its leaders is a Nazi. It’s been made at political protests on banners both under the Bush and Obama presidencies. I’m reminded of a half-joking theory someone once proposed about internet forums: all arguments will inevitably regress to an accusation of Nazism or a Hitler reference (sorry, I’m too lazy to give credit where credit should be due.)
Yesterday this “Nazi U.S.A.” statement was made in regard to an article claiming that the U.S. government was going to collect the Body Mass Index of all Americans who see a doctor. I don’t want to comment on the veracity of that claim. True or not, the hyperbole of comparing mandatory BMI collection to Nazism is recklessly stupid. My sarcastic reply was to say the reason Anne Frank was hiding in an attic was because the SS were after here with a scale and a measuring tape. Sarcasm, my reflex to absurdity.
No matter how pissed a government action or figurehead makes you, making an analogy to Nazism is being Hitler’s apologist. Equating Nazism with a relatively trivial event does not simply make the trivial event seem more significant, it also makes Nazism seem less significant. That’s how equivocation works. If I say, “my love is like a red, red rose” I’m not just making a statement about my love, but also one about roses. Saying obtrusive health data collection is as bad as WWII is the same as saying WWII was as bad as obtrusive data collection.
Now who, with any good sense or ethical logic, would say that the Shoah is on a moral tier with the health department taking your health information? Well, based on the comments left under the article, a lot of people do feel it’s a sensible reaction. One person even angrily spoke “ask a Jew about government intrusion!” Please, asshole, please. No Holocaust survivor is ever going to say their time in a concentration camp is like the CDC demanding his/her BMI. It’s not even a matter of being a little metaphorical; it’s psychotically illogical.
In my search for other great catastrophes in human history that could be sardonically applied to modern trivialties, I used a search engine to look for “worst disasters in history” or something like that. One of the first results to pop up linked to an Objectivist message board. Essentially, it was a tear-stained conversation about how 9-11 was definitely the WORST event in human history. Because 9-11 didn’t just harm people (who gives a shit about people?) but it was an attack on capitalism.
Now any ranking of tragic events is going to be subjective and tricky, and I feel it’s best to avoid such practice altogether. But that is only, and I mean ONLY, where relatively equal tragedies have taken place. But the genocide of millions of Jewish people does not ever “subjectively” stand next to what these Libertarians and Objectivists cry about. And those of us who would like to preserve the memory and dignity of those who died under WWII and the Shoah need not and should not be polite and kowtow to “everyone’s entitled to their opinion” when this egregious bullshit comes spewing forth.