Jan. 9 - I keep seeing, hearing, and encountering people who want to persuade me that Bush equals Hitler and Republicans equal Nazis. (If you haven't encountered this rhetorical equation, try this Google search.)
I offer those misguided souls the following corrective.
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About seventy years ago, on January 31, 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler the new Chancellor of Germany. You don't need to remember the date or know anything about Hindenburg or the Weimar constitution or the difference between a president and chancellor or any of that crap. The only thing you need to know is something you probably know already: this was a serious fucking mistake.
On February 27, the Reichstag—the German parliament building—went up in flames. In case your analogy-intake mechanism is clogged, that's like the U.S. Capitol burning. It freaked people out. Whether or not Hitler himself was responsible for the fire (he probably was), he didn't waste any time taking advantage of the massive German freakout. The very next day, February 28, he issued an emergency order which stated, in part, "the restrictions on personal freedom and the right to express opinions freely, including freedoms of the press, association, and assembly; monitoring of letters, cables, and telephone calls, searches of homes, and expropriation of property, and restrictions thereon, are hereby revoked within the limits previously stipulated in the law." Germans would not enjoy these rights again until 1945.
"The right to express opinions freely." Did you catch that one? An opinion is a privately-held belief—for example, the notion that Bush is Hitler and Republicans are Nazis. Less than a month into the Hitler administration, the right to express such opinions freely had gone straight down the crapper. (This probably isn't relevant, because not many Germans were running around saying, "Hitler is Bush!")
On March 20, Germany's first concentration camp, Dachau, opened its doors to its first group of prisoners—mainly communists, socialists, and homosexuals. These people had to be imprisoned because it was a well-known fact that communists wanted to overthrow the government and create a Soviet-style paradise like the one they had in Russia; the Socialists wanted to overthrow the government and create a Soviet-style paradise sort of like the one they had in Russia, and homosexuals wanted to overthrow the government and fuck each other in the ass. All three groups were an affront to the German people, especially the German people in Nazi uniforms, so it was thought best to get them out of the way.
On March 23, Hitler forced "The Enabling Act" through the Reichstag. This act took its name from the fact that it enabled Hitler to begin dissolving political parties that disagreed with his own National Socialists (Nazis). Those parties had to be dissolved because otherwise they'd probably want to get elected or something, which would have been an affront to the German people.
On April 1, the Nazi party enforced a nationwide boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. Armed Nazi soldiers kept watch in front of all such stores and offices and prevented potential customers and vendors from entering them. The "official" boycott lasted only one day, but its example set a precedent for widespread "unofficial" boycotts that endured until there were no longer any Jewish businesses in Germany to boycott. That was a boon to Germany, because Jewish business was an affront to the German people.
On April 21, the kosher slaughter of animals was outlawed in Germany. The Nazis insisted this law was intended only to alleviate the suffering of animals. The same people who would be stuffing Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals into ovens just a few years down the road were claiming to be worried about whether their fucking schnitzels had suffered too much on the way to their plates.
Suffering schnitzels were an affront to the German people.
On April 25, Germany implemented an affirmative-action program. They set a 5% maximum enrollment of Jews in any German school. This was important because although Germans have always valued education, scientists had irrefutably demonstrated that schools with more than 5 Jews to every 95 non-Jews were an affront to the German people.
On May 2, Nazis seized the headquarters of all of Germany's trade unions and imprisoned all their leaders. This was done because the German people had not demonstrated sufficient enthusiasm for the Nazi Mayday festivities of the day before. The Nazis represented the German working man, and it was important that the German working man not go looking to some goddam union or something for representation.
On July 14, the Nazis implemented the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring." This was an excellent law, designed to keep the German people in top physical condition by making sure that Germans who weren't in top physical condition got knocked out of the gene pool. (The idea of simply shooting them would still take some years to develop.) Here's the complete list of genetic diseases for which Germans could be sterilized: "congenital feeblemindedness," schizophrenia, manic depression, epilepsy, huntington’s chorea, hereditary blindness, hereditary deafness, "serious physical deformities," and chronic alcoholism.
Chronic alcoholism! In Germany! Maybe they didn't really mean that one. In any case, as many as 300,000 Germans were sterilized through this program, ensuring future generations of Germans would be the world's healthiest and most magnificent prisoners of war.
That very same day, the Nazis outlawed all other political parties in Germany. This wasn't a very significant achievement, actually, since most opposition parties had already been dismembered, and their leaders thrown in prison. Still, you have to admire their thoroughness.
Still later that day, the Nazi government revoked all German naturalizations that had been granted between the end of World War I and Hitler's assumption of the chancellorship. The majority of these naturalizations had been Eastern European Jews, who were now stripped of their citizenship in this single stroke. This was also designed to help Germany remain German, rather than becoming some kind of insane Bohemian Jew circus.
On September 13, heredity and "racial science" were made mandatory subjects in German schools. It was kind of like today's "African-American," or "Native-American" studies, except that instead of focusing on the tortuous experience of blacks or Indians in the new world, it emphasized the superior white, German-speaking, Nietzsche-quoting, Wagner-jamming, sausage-snarfing experience in the old world.
On October 14, Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. This was considered bad form, but Hitler explained that the League of Nations was an affront to the German people, forcing the rest of the world to feel badly and acknowledge the leigitmacy of the move.
Hitler had at this point been chancellor just eight-and-a-half months. He continued to build on his domestic successes.
On January 13, 1935, Germany reclaimed the Saar region, which had been annexed by France in 1918 and left in their control by the Treaty of Versailles. The French protested with their usual vigor.
On March 16, military conscription was reinstated. Versailles had stipulated that Germany have no more than 100,000 soldiers. The conscription law ensured a standing army several times that size. A further law passed that same day prohibited Jews from serving in the German army. This ensured a really big, really non-Jewish German army. At this point there weren't many Jews rushing to enlist, though, so it wasn't that big a deal.
On September 15, the "Nuremburg Laws" were passed. This body of legislation banned civil employment for Jews, forbade the marrying of German Jews to non-Jews, and so on. This was a slightly hypocritical rule, in that it was now officially illegal to fuck a Jew despite an official government policy of fucking the Jews. Historians are still perplexed.
On March 7, 1936, Germany occupied the Rhineland, which was one of those places the rest of the world had asked Germany not to occupy back at Versailles. The world expressed its disappointment and moved on to more interesting things (for example, badminton).
Hitler had been chancellor of Germany for a little over three years and a month.
Today is January 9, 2004. George W. Bush has now been president for just under three years. In case you're worse at math than my five-year-old niece, that's only one month less than the amount of time Hitler had been ruling Germany when last we left him.
You want to compare Bush and Hitler? Let's go.
There's still a powerful, vocal, and very active political opposition up against him domestically; the New York Times and Washington Post are still in print (and CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, and MSNBC are still broadcasting); "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" isn't being produced out of a concentration camp; the president is threatening to grant amnesty to illegal aliens rather than expunge recently naturalized citizens; he calls Islam a "religion of peace" instead of a "religion of deviants and genetic mutants;" the AFL-CIO has yet to be dismantled; and the Surgeon General hasn't come up with a decent forced sterilization program for anyone. On top of all that, the Democratic Party not only still exists—they actually intend to field a candidate to run against Bush this year, and no one is stopping them!
I mean, it's like he's not even trying!
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If you want to call Bush a demagogue, call him a demagogue. If you think Republicans are a lousy bunch of swindling charlatans, just say so. If you think the coalition that went to war against Iraq was a cabal of oligarchic thugs misleading their countries into a war that violated international law, make your case. But all you do by equating Bush to Hitler is make yourself look like an ignorant jackass, a partisan hack, or some kind of holocaust-denial nutjob.
If you actually believe Bush equals Hitler, then you need to put down the bong and finish sixth grade.
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Enjoy the weekend!
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac