Sasha Abramsky has written an excellent and thorough refutation of the all-too-casual and glib rhetoric equating Bush with Hitler and modern America with Nazi Germany. I agree with it completely. And before we get into the predictable attempts to dismiss him rather than engage his arguments, Abramsky isn’t exactly a Bush apologist; he’s a writer for the Nation, Mother Jones and other liberal publications. But he is absolutely right. Such hyperbolic rhetoric only serves to undermine the real and serious case against the Bush administration’s unconstitutional policies. He is absolutely right when he writes:
Yes, invading oil-rich countries in pursuit of national security goals is wrong – but it’s wrong on its own terms and in its own ways, without needing to be compared to the Third Reich’s Lebensraum goals. Yes, Guantanamo Bay is wrong – as was Britain’s use of internment against the IRA in the 1970s – but that doesn’t mean Gitmo or Abu Ghraib is a direct equivalent to Auschwitz or Birkenau. Yes, torture is wrong – in the same way as it was when used by the French in Algeria – but it’s wrong on its own terms, without the flip analogies to the Gestapo’s reign of terror.
It is counterproductive to undermine the rational and necessary case against Bush’s policies and against American excesses in general by making an irrational and unsupportable comparison that turns one’s claims in to a punchline rather than a serious argument against real abuses.