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Rush Limbaugh’s Reductio Ad Hitlerum

by @ 8:26 am on August 7, 2009. Filed under Barack Obama, Democrats, Politics, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh

If there was a Godwin’s Law violation detector, it would have been going haywire during yesterday’s Rush Limbaugh show, because he spent pretty much the entire day comparing the Obama Administration to Nazi Germany.

First, he made a patently silly comparison between the Administration’s health care logo and a swastika:


[I]f you go to right now in the orange banner at the top of the website, you will see a headline: “Was Pelosi So Wrong About Swastikas?” Steve Gilbert at Sweetness & Light heard my reaction to the Obama health care logo the other day. I mentioned something about it reminded me of Germany in 1942, the shape of the logo, the people. I said, “I haven’t seen this in many, many years.” And if you go and take a look at this, you will find that the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo. I’m going to show you people watching on the Dittocam this, and there you are. The middle frame is the Obama health care logo. At the bottom is an official Nazi logo, eagle and everything, spread wings, or bird with spread wings.

Then, he discussed what he claimed to be the similarities between the Democratic Party and the Nazi Party:


[T]hese Democrats think they live and operate in a vacuum. They run around and say, “Oh, yeah, people are showing up with swastikas,” and that’s going to be the end of the story. They create a whole new story and we find out that it’s a Democrat meeting in ’97 that they bring up a good friend of Jay Rockefeller’s who’s got a Nazi swastika tattooed on his arm. They accuse us of being Nazis and Obama’s got a health care logo that’s right out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook. Now what are the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi party in Germany? Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working one of which was the Autobahn.

They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals but in the radical sense of devaluing human life, they banned smoking. They were totally against that. They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables as we all know and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care. I have always bristled when I hear people claim that conservatism gets close to Naziism. It is liberalism that’s the closest you can get to Naziism and socialism. It’s all bundled up under the socialist banner. There are far more similarities between Nancy Pelosi and Adolf Hitler than between these people showing up at town halls to protest a Hitler-like policy that’s being heralded by a Hitler-like logo.

And, finally, Limbaugh went for the trifecta and compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler:


Ms. Pelosi, you asked for this. Here you go. Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate. His cabinet only met once, one day. That was it. Hitler said he didn’t need to meet with his cabinet. He represented the will of the people. He was called The Messiah. He said the people spoke through him. Do you know what the very first law that Hitler ordained was? The very first law was a law declaring how to cook lobsters. They were to be boiled. That was deemed to be the least painful. The law was sent around to all the restaurants. Now, does this sound like something any conservative president has ever done or does it sound like the things that liberals are doing all over this country? The links to show you just how off-the-wall radical environmentalist the Nazis were are posted now at the top of Okay, Ms. Pelosi. You say you see swastikas? Well, when it comes to it, you look much more like one than any of us ever will.

As I said yesterday, Pelosi was wrong to attempt to use Nazi analogies against the town hall protesters, but, then, anyone who resorts to Nazi-like analogies doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, because they don’t intend to engage in serious debate:

[W]hat, exactly, has this constant invoking of the memory of a dictator and the man who, in the judgment of history, made most of the worst aspects of World War II possible, accomplished ? Nothing really, because it pretty much makes debate and disagreement impossible.

And that, I think, is why political leaders do it. Invoke Hitler and anyone who opposes you is automatically an appeaser of evil. It’s an easy way to shut down political debate even when legitimate questions need to be asked.

Which is why politicians resort to it so often.

This kind of crap needs to stop.

Reductio Ad Hitlerum defined here.

11 Responses to “Rush Limbaugh’s Reductio Ad Hitlerum”

  1. [...] laid it out on his radio show today – proving again what I have always said, and proved. Rush Limbaugh’s Reductio Ad Hitlerum – 08/07/2009 If there was a Godwin’s Law violation detector, it would have [...]

  2. zorg says:

    Prior to hearing that Pelosi called them Nazis, seeing the video of the Tampa meeting, I was independently reminded of Nazis. In the early 1930s, when their popularity was on the decline and they seemed to have lost their moment in history, the Nazis brazenly disrupted events of the larger parties to make them seem weak and ineffectual. The lenient treatment given to Nazi criminals during this period emboldened them and did not hamper their organizing efforts.

    At the same time, Nazi propagandists accused everyone in sight of doing exactly what the Nazis were actually doing. The connection is obvious, the tactics are similar, and the mention of Godwin’s Law is irrelevant. Godwin’s Law is usually invoked because of wacky comparisons between X and Nazi atrocities AFTER they came to power. Here there is a genuine close analogy to Nazis (as well as other political gangsters) before they came to power.

  3. James Young says:

    “anyone who resorts to Nazi-like analogies doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously”

    Anyone who rejects the notion that Nazi-like totalitarianism died with Hitler doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.

    Just because they don’t wear or use a swastika doesn’t mean they aren’t possessed of the same totalitarian ideology.

  4. James Young says:

    You’re letting your loathing of Limbaugh get in the way of your rationality. He demonstrated — chapter and verse — how Obamacare and Obama’s economic program is similar to National Socialism. And yet … you still must condemn him with ad hominem.

    Calling Obama a “Nazi” without supporting facts would be inaccurate and wrong. Demonstrating his accord with Nazi totalitarian philosophy is an utterly legitimate exercise, if supported by the facts. Rejecting it with a dismissive wave is contemptible.

  5. James,

    Using the Nazi analogy is not a method of political discourse, it’s a method of sending the message that whatever your opponent has to say isn’t only wrong, but evil.

    Its wrong when the left does it, and it’s wrong when the right does it.

    I’ve heard these same tired Nazi analogies for 30 years now about five different Presidents. It’s not argument, it’s ad hominem

  6. James Young says:

    Limbaugh didn’t start this; Pelosi did. That may seem like a somewhat childish retort, but it is entirely rational to demonstrate that someone’s charge is actually projection, by demonstrating their similarity to the philosophy they are purportedly condemning. But for Christ’s sake: it’s entirely inappropriate to attack someone for DEFENDING himself or his political allies against the charge.

    And gee, Doug, I’m really sorry you are sick of the “same tired Nazi analogies.” That just breaks my heart. But unless you are asserting that there is no one who is in accord or partial accord with the National Socialist political philosophy, it is your charge which is specious and ad hominem.

  7. James,

    It started long before Limbaugh and Pelosi. The left has done it. The right has done it.

    It’s time to stop it.

  8. James Young says:

    Because YOU say so?!??!

    If you begin from the premise that there is evil in the world, and that there are evil ideologies, there is nothing inherently wrong with identifying those who espouse portions of that evil ideology with that ideology. To do otherwise is fundamentally dishonest. No one is saying that Obama wants to go out and murder six million Jews.

    But neither Limbaugh nor any other Conservative started this recent foray into Nazi-baiting: Nancy Pelosi did. It’s part and parcel of the far Left strategy. They do it every time some fiscally responsible person raises his or her ugly head. Don’t want to spend quite as much on federally-subsidized school lunches as some Congress-critter (1996)? You want to “starve children.” Hold that people should bear the costs of their own irresponsible decisions? You don’t “care.” You’re “mean” and “cold-hearted.”

    I, for one, am delighted to see Conservatives stand up and throw right back as Socialists the same rhetoric that we’ve been smeared with for years.

    Just don’t play the moral-equivalency game. It’s a crock, and you know damn well it is.

  9. James,

    Since I consider most doctrinaire conservatives to be as great a threat to liberty as doctrinaire liberals, the fact that one invokes the Reductio ad Hitlerum against the other at some point in a political debate doesn’t mean much to me.

    The right is in such a great position on this health care debate and all I see is them flubbing it with stuff like Nazi analogies, shouting down Congressmen and people who disagree with you, and outright lying about the contents of the bill.

    Tactics like that aren’t going to work and, even if they did, they’re just going to turn around and bite you in the ass in the end anyway.

  10. Pug says:

    Limbaugh didn’t start this; Pelosi did. That may seem like a somewhat childish retort…

    Well, at least James Young got one thing right.

  11. James Young says:

    Thank you, Pug, for that well-reasoned response.

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