Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nuke Obama ?

Yesterday at work, I overheard the following terrifying conversation:

Ed Mugglesworth: "People who say you should vote for anybody other than Obama are stupid. I mean, I think he's an idiot and all, but that's like saying you should vote for Hitler before Obama."

Fred Bugglesworth: "Yeah, well... maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea - I betcha Hitler could fix the economy."

- - -

There are some fairly obvious problems with this little interchange, but given that we like sheep have gone astray to the cliff-edge of loudly-bleated, obvious idiocies, I figure I oughtta make a few obvious observations:

One: Never, ever, ever should a person with even a smidge of compassion ever suggest it would be worth it to have another Hitler if it would fix the economy - not even as a joke. Jokes should be funny, see, and there is nothing at all funny about suggesting that genocide would be acceptable if it provided the majority with greater wealth.

Two: When the more moderate voice in your discussion refers to the leader of your country as an "idiot," you have a problem. It is perfectly acceptable in a democracy to argue that one or all the policies of a leader are idiotic, or misguided, or stupid - but to turn from there to an attack on him (or her) as a person is a dangerous, dangerous place to be. Instead of implying a reasoned difference of opinion, it asserts a qualitative difference between yourself and the other person.

This is a mistake. In the words of the Beatles long ago, "I am you and you are me and we are we." Anything else is arrogant and dangerous and - let's face it - a little bit Hitlerish. And, yes, I did feel the same way when people made these same derogatory qualitative claims about then-President George W. Bush.

Three: When you scapegoat (or idolize) the President, you not only miss the bigger picture, but you also allow the larger, more powerful forces that really run the world to have their way with you (Yes, I'm talking to you, you pusillanimous Pentaverate).

Four: Foolishness inevitably escalates. Ugly, unwise, un-measured thoughts grow to a place where you not only have some dumb radio caller saying she'd "vote for Charles Manson before this guy [Obama]," but you also have a major Republican Presidential candidate thanking her for that opinion. I suppose the argument could be made that Bachmann was thanking her for the part where she pledged support (and not the whole Manson thing), but the fact that she didn't bat an eye when one of her supporters referred to her competitor as being worse than a serial killer... well, that says something more than a little bit scary about the current political climate.

Five: What it says, I think, is that a lot of people in this country are being driven by the love of money - which is, I would argue, the root of all kinds of evil. To echo something I said during my (brief, ill-fated, facetious) youtube Presidential campaign, "People vote with their wallets." This love of money and the fear it implies has been responsible for a whole lot of the ugliness we've been dishing out all over ourselves, others, and the Good Earth.

This money-love has been vociferously encouraged and adopted by the nominally Christian "Church" with which I still, despite myself, tend to associate. It's garbage, and it has to stop.

5 comments:

  1. So it's wrong to compare somebody you disagree with to Hitler. But it's perfectly OK for you to say that if somebody disagrees with you--at least on one particular point--he is "a little bit Hitlerish."

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

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  2. If virtually every decision a person makes is in some way idiotic then I would say it's perfectly acceptable to classify that person as an idiot.

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  3. @ Rakewell: I see two problems with your comment. First, I didn't say it's wrong to compare somebody you disagree with to Hitler... so I'm not sure where you got that. Perhaps you read a different blog post somewhere else and then commented on this one. I hear that happens sometimes. (And yes, I'm being over-the-top sarcastic, here. But you started it :).

    Second, I did not say that the person was Hitlerish, I said that to claim a qualitative difference between you and someone else is Hitlerish - because there ought to be a distinction between action and identity.

    @Anonymous: I would be interested to know how many people - other than just possibly yourself - you are fully informed enough about to say that "virtually every decision" they make is in some way idiotic. Especially someone like, say, a President, who travels in circles you cannot possibly comprehend. If you were to ask Obama whether George W. was an idiot, he'd say "No." And vice-versa.

    If you spend your life holding buckets of acid, you'll eventually get burned.

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  4. In the group of fellow travelers I circulate with, anyone, who in the course of a discussion, is reduced to invoking the name of Hitler or the Nazis to make their point is automatically deemed to have nothing of value to say and has lost the argument. Unfortunately, U.S. politics seems to be little more than both sides saying - no you guys are Nazis ... no YOU guys are Nazis! Nothing can be gained from continuing in that sort of dialogue - if it can even be called that.

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