Thursday, June 23, 2005

Guantanamesque? Abu Ghraibian?

It appears that the Righteous Worthies who lambasted Dick Durbin and Amnesty International for using Nazi concentration camps and Stalin's gulags as measuring sticks against which to compare -- and find important points of similarity with -- US treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, don't like metaphors very much.

Godwin's Law rules the land, no matter how apt the comparison, how accurate the simile. If "we're not nearly as bad as the Nazis" is a hair they're happy splitting, then I will be content to stand by, slowly applauding. And laughing until nausea sets in again.

So if each period of history is unique, and one cannot justly compare one to another without opening oneself to charges of ahistoricity (which is, after all, what the Righteous W's now bray), then all historical similes must die. No more Hitlerian or Neronian; no more Draconian or Spartan. Inapt. Not Comparable. Times Are Different.

What solecisms will history undergraduates commit in future years, when asked to describe the atrocities and genocides that will (beyond a shadow of doubt) deface their own times? Will angry red professorial pen strike out words like Bushian and Rovian and Rumsfeldian and scribble in margins, "NO! We're not as bad as that!" Will some future Dick Durbin in some far-off future time have to genuflect abjectly when Righteous W's take wattle-shaking umbrage at his employment of the adjective Guantanamesque?

9 comments:

Linkmeister said...

Carry it further. Limbaugh (or maybe Fleischer/McClellan)-like rather than Goebbels-like, ad nauseam.

Kevin Wolf said...

What's sobering is that we can see clearly enough to at least guess at what history will think of us and our times; whereas the Bush crowd see with absolute clarity their place in history as Heros For the Ages. God, they're creepy.

handdrummer said...

I say call a spade a spade and a Nazi a Nazi. Karl Rove is a spiritual and philosophical clone of Dr. Goebbels, down to using techniques taken straight from the Nazi political playbook written by Dr. Goebbels.

I am not going to apologize for saying this either. It's the truth.

Vache Folle said...

It's a sad commentary when a person who makes a comparison to Hitler feels compelled to apologize when the perpetrators of tha acts that inspired the comparison do not. "Not as bad as Hitler" is really not much of a defense of these actions.

Anonymous said...

Makes one ashamed to be in any way associated with it. Or maybe not- if you have any stomach for current events- strong stomachs lacking the ability for nausea. Karl Rovian or just Rovian??

Anonymous said...

Makes one ashamed to be in any way associated with it. Or maybe not- if you have any stomach for current events- strong stomachs lacking the ability for nausea. Karl Rovian or just Rovian??

The Viscount LaCarte said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Viscount LaCarte said...

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

Joseph Goebbels

"The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over"

Joseph Goebbels

The Viscount LaCarte said...

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005