Worse than Lennin, Stalin, Hitler, and Castro *combined*

So…Obama’s killed 100,000 million people in nine months? I will only admit the comparison apt if it can be proven he has.
Photo from today's tea-party demonstration in Washington, DC.

(above) Photo from today's tea-party demonstration in Washington, DC.

I’m rather disappointed by now that I haven’t articulated more of my criticisms of the Obama administration in the months since January. If I can’t expend serious energies against the ruling powers, I don’t know what good I am. I’m also concerned about the sheer number of posts I’ve devoted to poking fun  or wringing hands at the exacerbation of the right in that same time. They are underrepresented in government. Many of the more flamboyant protestors are poor, genuinely frightened people.

But they do present obvious targets while propagating such obvious falsehoods as the president’s plans for death panels or a private army. When such manifest untruths hold such sway over public debate–when they come from the fingertips of a former governor, when they are repeated on the higest-rated cable news station–everyone ought to be concerned for the state of public debate, the circulation of democracy.

But exponentially more worthy of censure than these misinformation campaigns is the carelessness with which the terms “fascist/Nazi” and “socialist/communist” have been thrown around. A reverence for distinction compels us to note the irreconcilable tension between the two terms and those who espouse either. Moreover, it is an insult to the memories and legacies of those who lived and died under such autocratic regimes to trivialize their suffering by invoking it at the point of every policy dispute.

That so many of the tea-partiers are members of the silent generation is distressing. Here are people who lived through the Second World War, who might have seen newsreel footage of Nazi atrocities come to light for the first time; and witnessed the economic and direct violence wrecked in the name of communism. Yet so many of them tolerate sinage among their own ranks comparing their own center-left contry men to those outrages. Granted, they are entitled to outrage for policy disagreements; but we should expect them to recognize these disagreeable policies won’t be the shame of the century.

A certain other Marquette community blogger is also bad at this. He was calling left-liberals “fascists” and “Stalinists” years before GoldbergBeck and Limbaugh made it cool. Maybe he began in righteous dismay at reprehensible comparisons on the left of Bush to Hitler. Yet even if this was his original stimulus to action, it does not excuse him for taking the low, easy road. He wollowed in the same muck as his opponents, retaliating eye for an eye, thoughtlessly-hurled “fascist” for thoughtlessly-hurled “fascist”. One would expect a greater appreciation for distinctions from a professor of political science; one would not expect him to be so quick to dilute the force of our collective memories of the staggering atrocities of 20th century totalitarianism by comparing them to campus speech codes or identity politics-driven “sensitivity training.” I dislike both speech codes and identity politics, too, as both seem to dissolve some degree of personal autonomy. Still, it is not my first instinct to implicate those who promote them with mass-murder.  

I realize as late as last week I made a joke about Massachusetts being a “Gulag”; but just because I don’t live up to my own standard does nott mean it is not one worthy of aspiring to.

I do not know what horse I ought to bet on in this healthcare debate. I don’t know if those living under single-payer systems are on the whole better off than Americans (though this is a moot point, as the current proposal will not produce such a system). I don’t know how the “healthcare reform” on the table will distort the market for the better, or whether it can possibly deliver any of what it promises.

In all frankness, I doubt it. But the United States has survived other expansions of the welfare state, and I think it is a discredit to think that this one would end our way of life forever. And it certainly won’t take us one step closer to Buchenwald or the Gulag.


3 Responses

  1. The particular professor of Political science that you mention is an irrational, hateful, bigoted, partisan, and dishonest person. So I’m not too shocked. That guy has no regard for truth and lives only to slander.

    But this is hardly surprising. And the right-wing response to Obama is pretty much the norm on the far right. When Clinton was president they claimed he was a Satan worshipping, serial rapist who committed murder … honest. The far right is simply not stable. And that particular Political science blogger is an exmaple of this extremism, lack of concern for truth, and hostility to any who see the world differently.

    Th e Obama adminstration is not particularly admirable. Obama is, in fact, a horrilble disappointment. Ironically, this is largely because Obama is himself too far right: His disregard of gay rights, his continuation of Bush Policies, his giving free handouts to big corporations.

    As for Health Care … Single-Payer is not the ideal system. But ours s worse. France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Japan .. all rely mostly on private insurers. These insurers are by law non-profit, and there is strong government oversight and regulation, and they are legally required to cover all claims sent to them. And these are the best health care sytems in the world.

    But Single-Payer does do better than our cruel for-profit system. Despite problems with long waits and underfunding, Canada, Italy, Spain, England – all single-payer or even full blown government run systems – have longer life spans, less infant mortalitity, higher quality of life after age 60, and costs far less than our system.

    Remember that America pays more for health care than any other country, we are the only advanced country that leaves millions without insurance, and the only country that suffers bankrupticy (to the tune of several hundred thousad a year) because of medical bills. And despite all the money we spend, we rank pitifully in all meaningful comparisons of health care systems.

    Still … we need not go that route. We would do better to follow the model in Germany.

  2. Hey Bento –

    I’d be interested in hearing your line of thinking on why the proposed legislation will not create a single payer system. Maybe that could be another post? Do you believe that Obama’s ultimate goal is to improve the healthcare system, or that his end-game is the single-payer system (not necessarily to say that these are mutually exclusive)?

  3. Matt:
    For the sake of prudence, for granting the benefit doubt as to the good faith of a potential fellow conversationalist, and for the possibility I might be trapped in a Wehr elevator with him one day, I’m not prepared to call “bigot”. (I ruminated on just how to define the term earlier this week (in the Maggie Gallagher post) and now regret it. It could easily be read I am impliying a large number of merely thoughtless people as bigots, sapping the term of its implications of deep-seated and openly expressed hatred. I was careless with a strong term, again failing the standard outlined above. But I digress.) That being said, he has written some things about gays I can’t believe he would have broadcasted if it meant speaking them aloud.
    I’m also not prepared to pass judgement on his intellectual honesty. I don’t do vigorous fact-checking of truth-claims made on his blog, have never had a class with him, nor have I read any of his published research.
    Although Obama has expressed support for a single-payer system in the past, I can’t believe *anyone* could rally the political support to pass such a measure in the US–if even this current proposal is to pass, it will be by the skin of its teeth. (Hell, the White House Chief of Staff is a leader in the opposition.) If moderate Dems are twitchy about this, they won’t touch *actual* socialized medicine for the foreseeable future.

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