Oct 8, 2013

October 8, 2013: Melodramatic Rhetoric, Non sequitur, Read Your History

"Proclaiming one's ignorance only makes one ridiculous" ---From the Quotations of Chairman Joe

“It’s not just the death camps. (Hitler) started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people." (1)

---Arizona State Representative Brenda Barton (Rescumlican)

 Such are the sentiments expressed by a duly elected Rescumlican, this time in the Arizona House.  She accuses the President of being over-the-top, but her melodramatic rhetoric does little to raise the level of debate much above the gutter.

 What is so appalling about her comments is the breathtaking ignorance expressed in such gross simplicity.  I have said, and it bears repeating once again, on a number of occasions in these columns that the problem with modern conservatism is that the historical record keeps getting in the way.  Here our honorable representative of the good people of Arizona is expressing her pure and completely unadulterated ignorance of history. 

Let’s take her critique of our president point by point:

One: Death camps did not start with national health care.  In fact, in Germany, National Health was introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century under the Kaiser and Bismarck, predating Hitler by a half-century.
Two: The concentration camps did not start with Gun Control.  The Third Reich did not institute Gun Control. Gun control was instituted under the Weimar Republic.  The Nazi’s, contrary to the spin zone that is Fixed News, repealed those laws. To hold that Concentration Camps logically and inevitably follow from such legislation is not only a non sequitur but demeans the suffering of those who were so interred.

Three: Hitler was never elected by the majority of Germans. To blindly make such an assertion is to demonstrate at once a blinding ignorance not only of the historical record, but of the nature of a republic operating under a parliamentary system.  The Nazi’s never got much more than 35% or so of the popular vote, but in a parliamentary system in which the leader (Fuhrer), in this case Chancellor, is elected by the parliamentary body and not the popular vote, the Nazis, representing the largest of the parties then in the Reichstag, (German Congress) was the party to which then President Hindenburg turned in order to form a stable government.  To say the Nazis were ever a majority is to blithely misinterpret history.  They were the first among equals, in a manner of speaking, but because the Reichstag was divided upon several parties, they rose to the top.  Here in the United States, where we have a two-party system, it is easy to confuse the difference and because so many Americans, as our honorable member of the Arizona House demonstrates, think that every national government is organized in our image, we quickly assume that because the Nazis rose to power they must have had majority support.  An erroneous assumption that one hears repeated all too often in these here United States.
So there you have it, another melodramatic assertion on the part of a virulently ignorant Rescumlican demonizing our President as another Hitler.  Three short assertions in the space of one paragraph, all taken by the ditto heads of the teabagger movement as gospel, and all unable to withstand the most cursory examination of the historical record.  In fact it does not follow (non-sequitur) that health care and gun control lead to death camps as the historical record of republics all around the globe who have both health care and gun control amply demonstrate. To put forth such an assertion not only does material damage to political discourse but leads to public embarrassment in the bargain.  Giving voice to ignorance only makes you look ridiculous.

Read your history Representative Barton, I suggest William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  It is a tough read, a thousand pages or so and not many pictures.  I suggest then that you put down your crayons and read this book carefully,  preferably with someone at hand who can explain to you what really happened.


(1). http://news.yahoo.com/arizona-de-fuhrer-barton-obama-134942788.html 



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