Please watch your political comparisons, almost no-one is "like Hitler"



Yesterday, I was arguing the advantages of ranked ballot voting, the person I was arguing with was losing. At least I think he was losing. His case seemed to be that as a populist he believed that people were too stupid to handle ranked ballots and that the majority of people wanted the minority to rule. He claimed, at one point, that it was a 'libertarian' argument.

At any rate, he wasn't doing a very good job of making his case and he said, "I guess Putin is a democrat in your eyes...Setting up gas chambers anytime soon, like other famous socialists and imperialists?" I had at no point threatened him, expressed an interest in killing 6 million Jews or had him beaten and locked up for disagreeing me, he was simply losing an argument.

But, in reading the news I'm starting to suspect that there is just something in the water lately.

For example:

The Keystone Pipeline is a bad idea, but not very much like the Vietnam War.

From the Wire:

"A group of environmentalists sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, calling for Kerry to reject a permit critical to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would shuttle thick tar sands oil from Canada to Nebraska. Fine. Their rationale? Climate change is "an even bigger mistake" than the Vietnam War, in which Kerry received multiple Purple Hearts. Bad argument."
Barack Obama is nothing at all like segregation defender George Wallace.

From Mother Jones:
"Top social-conservative strategist Ralph Reed compared President Barack Obama to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference."
And Stephen Harper is authoritarian and anti-democratic but he is primarily interested in rewarding his rich friends with more money at the expense of everyone else. He is not like Hitler.

From Canada.com:
"Wednesday’s edition of The Advocate newspaper in Pictou, N.S., featured a rather unsubtle editorial cartoon criticizing the Conservative government. It depicted a Nazi swastika flag flying over Parliament Hill in Ottawa, captioned “Harper’s Economic Action Plan.” Although it’s not clear how Stephen Harper’s economic policies relate to Adolf Hitler’s, the cartoon still hit a nerve with readers."
Of course, Harper's foreign affairs minister then turned around and made his own Nazi comparison.

From the Globe and Mail:
Until now, the Conservative government has characterized the invasion of Russian troops as “old Soviet-style” aggression. But the government turned up the rhetoric on Tuesday as it announced that Canada will immediately suspend all military activities with Russia. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called Mr. Putin’s rationale for his actions “ludicrous and .... transparently unacceptable,” saying the “ethnic nationalist justification” offered reminded him of the Nazi German gambit of more than 70 years ago.
Putin is, like Harper, authoritarian and undemocratic. Unlike Harper he tends to lock up offensive journalists and other critics, but there is little indication that he wants to take over the world, or build concentration camps.

All of these comparisons are absurd and using absurd comparisons smacks of desperation in a political debate.

What it says, to anyone really paying attention, is that your arguments are not that strong and so you're going to appeal to them on an emotional level by bringing up other things, or people, that they don't like.

There are good arguments to be made against the Keystone pipeline, against Putin's aggression in Crimea and against Stephen Harper's continued leadership of Canada. There is no need to revert to desperation tactics and ridiculous comparisons that always end up hurting the person making the comparison more than the intended target.
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