Kathleen Parker on Hitler and the Lack of "Serious Debate" in This Country

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker nails it in the Washington Post today with her column, "Hitler In August." Here's my favorite part:
... Invocations of Hitler usually mean two things: one, a poverty of imagination, and two, a paucity of good arguments. It is nearly axiomatic that any protest against government action will feature Hitler in some form. Left and right are equally guilty. Trivializing such evil is an insult to the memory of millions who suffered and died by his order, as well as to the intelligence of all sentient beings.

It may no longer be possible in this country to have a serious debate about anything. Inevitably, substance devolves into silliness. Even the most dignified of statesmen become caricatures when juxtaposed with the ridiculous.

While it's easy to blame "the media," there's no longer any single entity to indict. In a world where everyone has video -- and distribution is both free and easy -- every little thing is a "story." And so the exercised Israeli American and his mocking nemesis become stars on the world stage. The Obama-Hitler woman may be only infamous, but she is a celebrity of sorts.

One may reasonably oppose, on the merits, the views that Frank and the Democrats hold on health care -- and plenty of informed people do. But when Frank is tossed into the ring with a Hitler-wielding instigator, he looks the sage from Vesuvius, and his opponents escapees from the asylum.
I agree with all this, particularly that - with the likes of Sarah Palin, Orly Taitz, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, etc. running their mouths off - "it may no longer be possible in this country to have a serious debate about anything." In fairness, as Parker points out, there's been plenty of insanity and idiocy on the left as well. Take the extreme-left International ANSWER coalition of anti-Semites and Marxist-Leninists. Please! Or take Cindy Sheehan or Code Pink. Again, please!

But right now, for a variety of reasons, the loony left is relatively quiet (except for the Larouchies, who are more fascist than left as far as I can tell, but as the saying goes, eventually the far left and the far right meet and become indistinguishable), while the far right is in full insanity mode. And what is it that they're so ANGRY about, invoking Hitler's name faster than you can say "achtung?" Well, you see, the government might actually save the economy from Great Depression Part II; provide high-quality, affordable health care to all Americans; and jump-start a new energy economy with millions of "clean tech" jobs that otherwise would go to China, India, etc. (begin extreme snark) As you can see, it's horrible stuff, definitely on the scale of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and a World War that took the lives of tens of millions of innocent people. (end extreme snark)

Look, when doing good becomes equated with doing evil and the "screamers"/"birthers"/"deathers"/dittoheads take over, Kathleen Parker's right: we can NOT have a "serious debate about anything" in this country. So why are we even bothering? Why don't we just invoke Godwin's Law every time someone invokes Nazis or Hitler or whatever, give the Barney Frank response to whatever loony is speaking, and move on with the pressing business of the day?