File this Under: Inappropriate Historical Analogies

(cross-posted from my blog)

I know this shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but the Nuge is an idiot:

“I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up.”

A quick observation: for as much as right-wingers like to play freedom fighter and throw around the word totalitarianism like a twelve-sided die, it’s really clear that  as an actual historial phenomena, totalitarianism means absolutely nothing to them.  Anyone with a modicum of respect for the tens of millions of lives lost during Mao Zedong’s decades-long control of China would at least hesitate before using his name as a point of reference in criticizing a U.S. president.  But that would be expecting a bit much of right-wingers like Ted Nugent* or the National Review’s Andy McCarthy, who name-drops totalitarian dictators on a fairly regular basis in his barely coherent — but always entertaining — “columns.”

The simple fact is that the constant comparison of President Obama to Mao, Stalin and Hitler is deeply offensive; hundreds of millions of people suffered and died under totalitarian regimes, and it does a gross disservice to their memory to trivialize their deaths by using “totalitarianism” as a blunt criticism for moderate, incremental domestic policy you happen not to like.

*Also, as Digby pointed out, shouldn’t he be getting the Dixie Chicks treatment or something, you know, for criticizing the president abroad.

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88 thoughts on “File this Under: Inappropriate Historical Analogies

      • No, I have never purchased a Ted Nugent album.

        I’m more of a Hum/My Bloody Valentine/Low/Crystal Method/Chemical Brothers guy now, though my youth consisted of the Woodstocky artists followed by some post-Woodstocky artists (more Who and Floyd than Nugent which, quite frankly, struck me as brainless synonym-for-rooster rock) followed by the whole Depeche Mode/Smiths/Cure thing.

        I don’t think I bought an album that wasn’t at least five years old and second-hand until I bought “Play” by Moby.

        Who, may I add, changed my life. “Find my baby” is one heluva song, I tell you what. One heluva.

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  1. “The simple fact is that the constant comparison of President Obama to Mao, Stalin and Hitler is deeply offensive”

    True, and so way, way, way over the top.

    I for one, would like bat-shit-crazy right wingers to make the following New Year’s Resolution:

    “Since Barack ‘Hussein’ Obama has yet to kill millions of innocent civilians, but is creating government programs that we find to be outrageously socialist, we will be adjusting our historical analogies accordingly. From now on, we recognize that America in under the icy grip of the our generation’s General Tito, and will subsequently compare him only General Tito in print, radio and cable news from now on. Upon the slaughter of millions of American’s stemming from Healthcare Reform’s Death Panels, we will look forward to returning to the then-appropriate moniker or Hitler or Stalin, and will add Mao later should Dreams of My Father be republished in a red-cover trade paperback. Here’s to 2010!”

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  2. The correct comparison to make, and always with the condition that America’s socialism is “soft” with a smiley face, is to say that after all the horrible damage done in the 20th century due to socialist schemes, for an American president to accept the underlying principles is abhorable.

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    • I don’t defend him — I think he is inferior when it comes to comedic genius, otherwise he would have followed the lead of Bill Maher, who called Laura Bush “Hitler’s dog”, by calling Michelle “Mao’s mangy bitch”.

      Two wrongs don’t make a right, but payback is a bitch too. There’s nothing more impotent than self-righteous, selective indignation. Jamelle frames the right with Nugent’s remark — so, I guess the left can take responsibility for Maher and all the others who compared Bush to Hitler — it’s sill and dishonest.

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    • Has anyone defended Uncle Ted yet?

      The closest I’ve seen is people, presumably on the left, who would have presumably defended the Dixie Chicks leaping to the other side attacking the people who will presumably be defending Ted… but I haven’t seen anyone defending Ted.

      Indeed, Mike Farmer’s post in response to this one was the first one that brought up the Bushitler comparison. I would have thought we’d have seen at least one post saying something to the effect of “denunciations of Hitler comparisons from the left have all of the authenticity of denunciations of big government spending from the right!” but we haven’t even seen one of those.

      And that’s without even getting into the issues of “if you defended the Dixie Chicks, shouldn’t you defend Ted Nugent on the same principles?” questions that, we *ALL* know, aren’t worth the pixels they’re printed with.

      But has there been a huge outcry defending Ted Nugent? Anywhere?

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  3. for as much as right-wingers like to play freedom fighter and throw around the word totalitarianism like a twelve-sided die, it’s really clear that as an actual historial phenomena, totalitarianism means absolutely nothing to them.

    Technology has allowed in the last 15 years a removal of the filters which constrained the transfer of someone’s inner dialogue to the public square. Ergo, you have more crude and stupid opinions crossing into your field of vision. There has also been a secular decay in manners public and private in society at large. There is not much you can do but attempt to do right (which does not include little gems such as that above, Jamelle).

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  4. Ah, what the hell. I’ll defend him. As a matter of fact, I’ll defend him by writing what I wrote when the Dixie Chicks said what they said and got that backlash.

    “Don’t shit where you eat.”

    Did Uncle Ted shit where he eats? It doesn’t strike me that he did… which makes a fairly interesting distinction between what he did and what the Dixie Chicks did.

    Who is going to stop buying Ted Nugent albums because of this? Who is going to say “Man, I seriously thought that Ted was a guy with his head straight on his shoulders who knew where I was coming from! I guess not! You’ve put me in a stranglehold, Ted.” and stop giving Ted his or her money?

    I mean, when the Dixie Chicks said what they said, I immediately thought “there are going to be a lot of people buying their first DC album in ‘solidarity’ but… they aren’t going to buy a second. On the other side, there are a lot of people who could have been counted upon to buy their next album (and the one after that and the one after that) who no longer will. And I’m not talking about concert tickets, and I’m haven’t even mentioned poster/t-shirt sales.”

    “But what about their right to free speech???”, I heard some people disingenuously ask, as if I were questioning it.

    I made my voice really high in mocking response “but what about the rights of the people to spend money on what they want and what they don’t want?”

    I brought my voice back down to reasonable register. “Surely you’re not implying that people are *OBLIGED* to buy the next Dixie Chick album, are you?”

    “Of course not.”

    “Well, my suggestion is that if you want to support the Dixie Chicks, you need to buy their next two or three albums. Buy a poster. Buy a t-shirt. Call up your local Country radio station and request their song. Call up your local lite-music station and request their version of ‘landslide’. And keep doing this for the next five years.”

    And, wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t. Why? Well… they didn’t really give a crap about the Dixie Chicks’ music. Wasn’t their bag. No biggie. We all have different tastes, after all.

    Which brings us to Uncle Ted:
    Does he know his audience?
    How many people who could have been counted upon to buy the next Uncle Ted album will not do so now that he’s said this?
    How many people who could have been counted upon to buy tickets to the State Fair where Uncle Ted will be playing at the Damn Yankees! reunion tour will not do so now that he’s said this?
    How many people inclined to call up K-Rock and request ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ for the umpteenth time will not do so now that he’s said this?

    I’m making some calculations in my head and I’m not coming up with anybody.

    Uncle Ted did not shit where he eats.

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      • Classic Rock stations have turned to crap, if you ask me.

        You listen to them for six months, you will hear *EVERY* song that they are ever going to play. Try to call them up and ask for something off of a b-side or something oblique? “Hey, Foghat has this awesome song on the flip side of their album, you need to play it!” “Sorry, we just play Slow Ride.”

        You’ve got everything from John Kennedy’s assassination to John Bonham’s death under the umbrella of classic rock and they don’t even *TRY* to play anything challenging.

        When the radio stations went from playing Hendrix, to playing only three Hendrix songs, to playing only “All Along The Watchtower”, they went to crap.

        Classic Rock stations don’t even play Joplin anymore. Joplin.

        This country is going to hell in a handbasket.

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        • So your just realized classic rock stations have always been exactly the same, playing old safe, although sometimes good, music.

          Although to my knowledge arguments about classic rock have not led to the death of tens of millions of people (overly long Grateful Dead guitar solos not included)

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        • Sorry Jaybird but, as owner and DJ of a rock radio station in Costa Rica, 107.5, (the only English radio station in the country streaming at radio1075.com, by the way) I have to disagree. Maybe the stations you get are dedicated to Slow Ride and All Along The Watchtower, we certainly are not! I have to agree with you in that too many stations do stick to that format but, we and some others find that as painful as you do!
          To the subject at hand however, would it have been better if the Nuge had been more precise in his comparison if he had said Hitler in 1923 or Mao in 1935? I am no fan of The One but, someone has to keep an eye on the ruling class and if they go over the top sometimes, on occasion, they are proven right. I could point to many policys lately that don’t quite feel right, the recent executive order allowing Interpol unrestrained operations in the US, for example. Why? For what purpose? Why now? If this doesn’t make you have a little tickle at the base of your spine you ain’t thinkin’!
          And yes we do play Stranglehold.

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  5. I have to stick with Ted. I watched Nugent in concert in Atlanta when he was starting out with the Amboy Dukes — he jumped from one amplifier to the next, slipped, ripped his leg, blood all over, but he kept performing — he deserves to be able to make extreme comments about somone who has never bled for his country.

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    • so mike, falling and bleeding while performing a rock concert is bleeding for the country????? and it might surprise you that many actual liberals have fought and bled, in the military, for this country. And how does one get to “deserve” the ability to horrendously butcher history?

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    • You know that Ted Nugent was a Vietnam draft dodger, right? He’s even been quoted explaining how he stopped all forms of personal hygiene 30 days before his physical and stopped eating 10 days before it, just so he would fail his draft physical. Obama bled more for his country from his first presidential paper cut than Ted Nugent has.

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          • No, you see, greginak, while liberals want the government to do everything for them, conservatives believe in individual responsibility. All that protesting was just typical liberal laziness, expecting big government to stop the Vietnam War for them. The heroic conservative leaders of tomorrow (like Rush, Nuge, Dubya, Cheney, Bill O’Reilly, and many, many others) instead believed in and worked for their individual responsibility to keep themselves out of Vietnam.

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            • For the record…

              Rush Limbaugh was declared medically unfit for military service because of a minor physical anomaly, as was Hubert Humphrey (during World War II, when draft calls corralled an exceptionally large portion of the male population), as was Patrick J. Buchanan (in 1959, at some personal inconvenience to himself as he was expelled from ROTC), as was Hendrick Hertzberg (mustered out of the Navy when it was discovered during some dental work that his blood clots slowly), as was a fellow I know in Rochester who had eczema on his feet. Military regulations can be funny that way.

              Richard Cheney had dependent children from July of 1966 to the end of the war. From the time military conscription was instituted in September 1940, men with dependent children were not drafted as a matter of policy. The only time when this dispensation was not in force was during the period running from the fall of 1943 to the fall of 1945. It was not a novelty in 1940, either. You could apply to your draft board for an exemption on these grounds during World War I (and most were granted) and the Civil War draft incorporated provisions for the payment of bounties and recruitment of substitutes to accommodate family situations.

              George W. Bush enlisted in the National Guard, as is well known, and in a unit whose members were not immune from being dispatched to VietNam.

              All that aside, some 25 million men were born during the years running from 1939 to 1953. Fewer than 2 million served in Indochina in any capacity.

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              • You forgot the best part about Cheney’s child exemption: The Selective Service changed the family exemption from all married men to only those with dependent children on Oct 6, 1965. Cheney’s first child was born 9 months, 2 days later.

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                • I forgot it because it is part of someone else’s diseased imagination. Mr. Cheney was married in August of 1964 and his wife gave birth in July of 1966. There is nothing suspicious about the timing of the birth of his daughter. He had no need to knock up his wife to get out of the military because he had been given a deferment to attend graduate school in November 1965. Student deferments to attend graduate school were not discontinued until 1967.

                  Richard Cheney was of age to be conscripted from January 1959 to January of 1967, and could have enlisted until January of 1977. The United States was not at war prior to November 1961. From November of 1961 to February of 1965, a mean of less than one percent of the Armed Forces were deployed in VietNam; they were deployed as ‘military advisors’ training and leading South VietNamese units; to this layman, that does not sound like a task to which Joe Blow off the sidewalks of Laramie would have been assigned, but the Army is foreign territory to me. From July of 1966, he had dependent children, and, as noted, there has never (bar during the years 1943-45) been a generalized expectation that a man with dependent children would serve in the military. The burden of complaints against Mr. Cheney is that in the interval between March of 1965 and July of 1966, he did not drop what he was doing and enlist. For this, you question the man’s honor and make up sick stories about his family life.

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                  • Huh, which part is imaginary? The date on with the Selective Service changed the family exemption, or the date on which Cheney’s first child was born? Those were the only two claims in my post, and they would both be easily refutable if incorrect. Obviously, Cheney also applied for and received multiple student deferments throughout his eligible period.

                    And good for him. Whatever his later insanities, he was completely correct in his personal assessment at the time that the Vietnam War wasn’t worth fighting.

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                    • You are insinuating that he impregnated his wife to avoid conscription. That is the only purpose to pointing out the coincidence. It is gratuitous and asinine to impugn someone’s motives in this manner.

                      Again, even if you were perfectly cynical about his motives, he had no reason to do that because a student deferment was in the works. But there is no reason to be so cynical. He got married at age 23 to a woman he had known for nine years, and his wife gave birth two years later. You cannot get much closer to demographic medians than that. About 300,000 other children were born in July 1966; I will wager you about a third of these were sired by men of military age and that about half these men never served on active duty or in the reserves or in the guard. How many of these 50,000 men do you fancy were reading the newspaper assiduously enough to notice the change in Selective Service policy, were motivated to avoid service in this way, and were talented enough to time a pregnancy with that degree of precision? That is where your imagination really kicks in.

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                • This is why right-wingers are all so pro-“family values”… they can impregnate women at will.

                  It always strikes me as odd the dynamic where people who opposed (or were born too late to oppose but certainly see the war as something worth having opposed) Vietnam resent people for not enlisting.

                  I mean, I see Vietnam as one of those wars that we would have been better off not involving ourselves in. Additionally, I see the draft as akin to slavery. I heartily oppose the draft *AND* think that Vietnam was a waste of blood and treasure. I don’t know why that piece of land was worth one American life.

                  As such, I don’t particularly hold “not enlisting” as that big of a deal. As for “draft-dodging”, I don’t know that The State has the right to point a gun at your head and force you to kill another person. I’m sure that one of you statists could explain it to me. (Quote OWH!)

                  I appreciate that there were quite a few “patriotic” people who, during the 80’s, wielded “draft-dodger” as an effective club and, hey, it’s your turn to swing it.

                  Let me know how that works out for you.

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                  • I do not recall the service records of political notables were much at issue during that decade. Two exceptions were Pat Robertson (because there was oral testimony and surviving correspondence which demonstrated that his father, Sen. Willis Robertson, had persuaded the Marine Corps to yank him off a lethal assignment in Korea) and Dan Quayle (because of unsubstantiated claims by Richard Cohen, The San Francisco Chronicle and others that his grandfather had pulled strings to get him a berth in the Indiana National Guard). Neither were accused of draft dodging, though people made slovenly use of the term against Mr. Quayle.

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                    • it just appears there are different standards for military service for R’s and D’s.

                      it also appears that some people who have never seen combat seem blood thirsty, while many of those who have seen combat are much more circumspect about the “glory” and wonderfulness of young men killing each other.

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                    • There are plenty of double standards in politics.

                      Right-wingers are assumed to be patriotic, support the military, be tough on crime, and be tough on spending.

                      Left-wingers are assumed to be caring, support the poor working class, more understanding of the root causes of crime, and support multiculturalism.

                      It’s wacky, yo.

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  6. Isn’t this the classical riposte of the surly teenager toward the father figure?

    “Hitler!”

    And isn’t the proper response to the “Hitler!” a tired

    “Grow up, will you.”

    Clearly, lots of Americans never grow up. I wonder why.

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    • Excuse me, but where is the evidence that the proportion of aged juveniles is higher here than in Sweden (land of bastardy and wall to wall welfare), Russia (land of alcoholics), Britain (more alcoholics and open ended doles), the Netherlands (land of stoners and disability chiselers), or Japan (land of men waited on hand-and-foot by their mothers and wives)?

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  7. “Obama bled more for his country from his first presidential paper cut than Ted Nugent has.” Ha!

    That was funny.

    But when it comes to the Nuge, I enjoy his music and abhor his politics. But then again, the same holds true for Rage Against the Machine. It’s not that difficult to ignore stupid politics if you’re listening to good music.

    (And really, Rage’s politics are much dumber than Nugent’s, and much more in your face. Have you seen Tom Morello’s “Arm the Homeless” guitar? I think deep down, Nugent knows the difference between Maoism and Obamaism, but he’s not above using hyperbole to make his point. Tom Morello probably thinks arming the homeless is actually a good idea!)

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  8. “The simple fact is that the constant comparison of President Obama to Mao, Stalin and Hitler is deeply offensive; hundreds of millions of people suffered and died under totalitarian regimes, and it does a gross disservice to their memory to trivialize their deaths …”

    Jamelle: I feel the same way. AndI felt the same during the Bush years when I would hear him being compared to Hitler by certain lefties. And I’m pretty damn liberal.

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    • Exactly. Lots of us felt that way. It’s not like comparing Bush to Hitler was routine among regular liberal Democrats. Hell, you had Teddy Kennedy doing photo-ops with him after the passing of NCLB.

      But part of me understands where some of the nonelites propagating these kind of lines are coming from, because I really was terrified of the Bush administation after 9/11 (which happened when I was a high school sophomore), particularly since as a South Floridian I thought he’d stolen the election. But I wouldn’t have compared him to Hitler. Hitler actually knew what he was doing. Bush at his worst seemed like just a figurehead for a bunch of corporate powerbrokers.

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      • For my part, I thought it was (and remains) hilarious.

        “So and so believes X? He’s worse than Hitler!” is comedy *GOLD*. That, and the one you alluded to, “at least Hitler was a decent public speaker!”

        I think that comparisons to history’s monsters even (perhaps especially!) over trivialities ought to remain just barely on this side of acceptable (if fringy) discourse.

        To paraphrase Ghandi: First you angrily compare them to Hitler, then you laughingly compare them to Hitler, and then you win.

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