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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 20, 2008 / 15 Iyar 5768

Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end

By Anne Applebaum

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.'"

       —George W. Bush, May 2008

"Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing [and] in these new threats, as during the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world."

       —Vladimir Putin, May 2007


No, by citing these two quotations, I am not drawing comparisons between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, two vastly different men. Nevertheless, it is clear from the above that Bush and Putin, despite their vast differences, do share a common ailment: They both suffer from the inexplicable need to inject the Nazis into current political debate whether they belong there or not.

True, it seems that Nazi analogies can be used with almost infinite flexibility. Bush—in what was widely interpreted as an attack on Barack Obama last week—was making a point about politicians who talk to "terrorists and radicals," comparing them to those who appeased Hitler in the 1930s. Putin, in what was widely interpreted as an attack on the Bush administration last year, was comparing the Nazis to contemporary regimes with "contempt for human life" and "claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world"—in other words, the United States.

But the Nazis have been invoked in arguments over many other causes. In a speech explaining what "this Kosovo thing is all about," Bill Clinton once justified his decision to bomb Serbia by asking, "What if someone had listened to Winston Churchill and stood up to Adolf Hitler earlier?" His secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, was also fond of telling reporters that "Munich is my mind-set," meaning Europe's decision to appease Hitler at Munich in 1938. In 2006, a British group opposed to national identity cards designed an ad that depicted Tony Blair as Hitler with a bar code in place of a mustache. Last spring, American feminist Naomi Wolf compared Hitler's brownshirts, the thugs who smashed Jewish shops and murdered old men, with the "[g]roups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers" who "menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000." On Sunday, Al Gore told college seniors that fighting global warming was comparable to fighting fascism. And, of course, Saddam Hussein has been compared to Hitler many times, by many people, of many different political views.

I am not, I hasten to add, arguing here against the public discussion of history. If the Nazis were being invoked more generally—in warnings, say, about the unpredictability of totalitarian regimes—they might be a useful part of a number of discussions. Unfortunately, Nazi analogies are nowadays usually deployed in order to end arguments, not to broaden them. Once you inject "Hitler" or "the Third Reich" into a debate, you have evoked the ultimate form of evil, put your opponent in an indefensible position—"What, you're opposed to a war against Hitler?"—and for all practical purposes halted the conversation.

Invoking the Nazis also changes the tenor of a debate. There may be good, tactical reasons for choosing not to negotiate with Hezbollah or the Iranian regime, for example (the best reason, usually, is that the relevant diplomats are fairly sure that negotiations won't work). But calling opponents of this policy "appeasers" distorts the debate, giving tactical choices a phony moral grounding. In reality, circumstances do change, even where "terrorists and radicals" are involved, as this administration in particular knows perfectly well.

Clearly the circumstances changed, for example, in the case of North Korea, a regime that was featured as a part of the axis of evil in 2002 and with whose leadership a number of Bush administration officials now negotiate full-time. As it happens, I've got no problem calling North Korea "evil," and I dislike the current negotiations, not least because they perpetuate the illusion that the United States, not China, is the most influential foreign player on the Korean peninsula.

Still, that doesn't mean that the Americans participating in talks with North Korea are the precise contemporary equivalents of Neville Chamberlain, and it doesn't mean that the North Koreans are about to invade Poland. By the same token, we don't learn anything useful by calling Kim Jong-il "Hitler," we haven't achieved much by calling Bush or Blair a Nazi, and the idea that people who want to negotiate with Iran are the moral equivalent of Vichy collaborators is ridiculous. Seventy years have now passed. Let's put the ghosts of Munich to rest, this time for good.

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APPLEBAUM'S LATEST
Gulag: A History  

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.


Previously:

05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness




© 2008, Anne Applebaum

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