I don’t think the Germans have any standing—or will ever have any standing—to offer up something like the cover of a recent issue of Stern (pictured at left), but perhaps it’s just another indication that the global left is taking its cues from America, where reductio ad Hitlerum has been the default Democratic attack on Republicans since the end of World War II. But always remember Rule #1 of liberalism and their media toadies: conservatives—and conservative politicians—are “divisive.” (You don’t even need a Cracker Jack decoder ring to know that “divisive” is lib-speak for “disagrees with liberalism.”
I know I’ve gone through this litany before, but it bears repeating some of the history of this yet again:
• Let’s start with the front page of the New York Times on October 25, 1948: “PRESIDENT LIKENS DEWEY TO HITLER AS FASCISTS’ TOOL; Says When Bigots, Profiteers Get Control of Country They Select ‘Front Man’ to Rule DICTATORSHIP STRESSED Truman Tells Chicago Audience a Republican Victory Will Threaten U.S. Liberty.”
CHICAGO, Oct. 25 — A Republican victory on election day will bring a Fascistic threat to American freedom that is even more dangerous than the perils from communism and extreme right “crackpots,” President Truman asserted here tonight. . . “Before Hitler came to power, control over the German economy passed into the hands of a small group of rich manufacturers, bankers and landowners,” he said.
Tom Dewey? Seriously? I know he had a rather funny looking mustache, but his plausibility as a would-be Hitler was punctured by the famous putdown—was it from Alice Roosevelt Longworth I think?—that Dewey looked like “the little man on the wedding cake.” (True, that was back before liberalism demanded two men on every wedding cake.) Of the man whose most provocative line in his stump speech was “Ladies and gentlemen—the future lies before us!”
• Or recall the rhetoric about Barry Goldwater in 1964. California Gov. Pat Brown said that Goldwater’s convention acceptance speech “had the stench of fascism. . . All we needed to hear was ‘Heil Hitler.’” San Francisco Mayor John Shelley: The Republicans “had Mein Kampfas their political bible.” Most of the media was happy to amplify this chorus. Columnist Drew Pearson, for example, wrote that “the smell of fascism has been in the air at this convention.” The Chicago Defender ran the headline: “GOP Convention, 1964 Recalls Germany, 1933.”
• Then, of course, there was Ronaldus Magnus, who was definitely Hitler after winning in landslide in 1980. I collected some of the reactions in the first few days after Reagan’s victory, which included the head of the Joint Center for Political Studies, which the Washington Post described as a “respected liberal think tank,” who said: “When you consider that in the climate we’re in—rising violence, the Ku Klux Klan—it is exceedingly frightening.” Fidel Castro said right before the election: “We sometimes have the feeling that we are living in the time preceding the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.” (Funny, isn’t it, that Castro’s views were indistinguishable from so many American liberals. I guess this explains a bit about their love affair with him.) Claremont College professor John Roth wrote: “I could not help remembering how economic turmoil had conspired with Nazi nationalism and militarism—all intensified by Germany’s defeat in World War I—to send the world reeling into catastrophe… It is not entirely mistaken to contemplate our post-election state with fear and trembling.” Esquire writer Harry Stein (later a convert to the right) said that the voters who supported Reagan were like the “good Germans” in “Hitler’s Germany.” Alan Wolfe of Boston College wrote in the New Left Review: “The worst nightmares of the American left appear to have come true.” And he doubled down in The Nation: “[T]he United States has embarked on a course so deeply reactionary, so negative and mean-spirited, so chauvinistic and self-deceptive that our times may soon rival the McCarthy era.” Democratic Congressman William Clay of Missouri charged that Reagan was “trying to replace the Bill of Rights with fascist precepts lifted verbatim from Mein Kampf.” Verbatim? Shouldn’t he have abused literally instead?
• Then there was the arrival of the Republican Congress in 1994. Liberal Democratic Congressman George Miller, said the morning after: “It’s a glorious day if you’re a fascist.” Rep. Charlie Wrangel, commenting on proposed GOP budget cuts: “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things.” (Actually I think we have to give him a point here, because it is literally true that Hitler didn’t talk about entitlement reform and tax cuts.) Another Democratic Congressman, Major Owens, said: “These are people who are practicing genocide with a smile; they’re worse than Hitler.”
The left just can’t help themselves when the “side of history” doesn’t conform to their will. The immediate default to reductio ad Hitlerum is a sign of the senescence of contemporary liberalism, of a creed that can no longer think. If “Literal Hitler” did actually appear amongst us—perhaps from some advanced genetic experiment or an AI bot gone wrong—the left would (will?) likely embrace him. Because Hitler was a socialist, don’t forget.