The misuse of the Hitler comparison has become so widespread that comparing someone to Hitler carries almost no meaning. If everyone is Hitler…
Leave it to a country singer to rescue us from our analogy fog and use the comparison correctly.
Singer Hank Williams, Jr. said of the House Speaker John Boehner/President Barack Obama golf outing that it was like Nazi Adolf Hitler playing golf with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
What is so astounding is that almost everyone who has weighed in to comment on this assumes that Williams was comparing Obama to Hitler. But let’s take a look at what was being said:
Adolf Hitler : Benjamin Netanyahu
Murderer of Jews : Jewish promoter of Israel
Killer : Killed
Extreme on one end : Extreme on the other end
What armchair philospher Williams was attempting to demonstrate was the inherent absurdity of those holding to diametrically opposed worldviews and philosophical systems getting together to participate in an comparitively mundane and inane (alleged) sport.
Williams’ critics negelect to consider that if he intended a one-to-one comparison, Williams might have been saying that Boehner was Hitler. Or that Williams might have been saying that either Obama or Boehner is dead or a ghost, since Hitler is pushing daisies and Netanyahu is pushing respect for Israel.
And whether Williams intended Boehner as Netanyahu and Obama as Hitler (or vice versa, or neither) is not relevant to the point.
The point is that the picture of President Obama and Speaker Boehner golfing together leaves their respective followers with questions as to whether there is any real difference between them. We know that is not true, therefore golfing together was dumb.
Sure, the Hitler card is overplayed. Saying that Obama = Hitler (or Bush = Hitler, or CEOs = Hitler, or whatever) is dumb, and fairly useless as a communication device. But comparing a situation to a hypothetical with Hitler is not necessarily out of bounds, and we shouldn’t be so quick to assume the worst.
Let’s put on our thinking caps, and our charity pants, and communicate.