Comparing our leaders or our political opponents to the fascist state that nearly conquered the globe and committed millions of people to dying horrible deaths is an instrument used by a lot of people in the United States. It's become easy for them to compare George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, or Nancy Pelosi to Hitler, or label them with terms like "Li'l Eichmann." (And don't even try and ask me about the whole thing with Obama painted as the Joker.) Anyway, I look at all this and think, well, at least we here in Canada can elevate ourselves to a level of political discourse where we don't compare people to Nazis.
On a political high following last night's Mayoral Debate, I started scrolling through comment sections on various posts on the 59 Carden St blog. There's a post on there about The Guelph and District Labour Council's endorsement of several candidates in the coming election, and it's become one of those posts that's generated a lot of very heated commentary.
Somewhere in the middle of all the comments was a three-way exchange about some information that Mayoral candidate Ray Mitchell posted about the legality of campaign donations from unions, saying that many municipalities in Ontario have outlawed the practice. Bill Hulet, a familiar poster on 59 Carden accused Mitchell of stretching the truth, saying:
"That's the same sort of politics that guys like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Joseph Goebbels follow."
Limbaugh, Beck and Goebbels? Worst. Dinner Party. Ever.
But seriously, Goebbels? The implication, whether purposefully implied or not, is that Mitchell is cut from the same moral character as a Nazi. I'm no fan of either Limbaugh or Beck, one's an unrepentant drug abuser and the other is mad without a hat, but I would never in my wildest tantrum call them Nazis. To me, in a political discussion, comparing someone to a Nazi is like telling someone you'll kill them if you ever see their face again. It's a statement you may not have meant literally, but there's really no way to get around that because chances are, you're not going to kill that person if you see them again.
The blog soon moved on to other matters and it seemed that there were no more Nazi comparisons to be made. It was a lively discussion and I send a virtual high-five to everyone that made it through to the end. Still, while the post was mostly issues focused, that one incident of name dropping Goebbels has got me grinding my gears. Disagreement is fine. Argument is fine. But throwing a Nazi uniform on people is just one small step to this: