Thursday, February 17, 2011

If You Think Scott Walker Is Like Hitler, Your History Teacher Was Overpaid

I understand that everyone from Patrick Dorwin to Charlie Sykes to Jay Nordlinger has linked to the well done GOP video contrasting liberal concern over the rhetoric of the Tea Pary with the rhetoric of opponents of the Governor's proposals on collective bargaining in the public sector. The video is well done and makes a valid point, but there is one part in particular that deserves special mention.

Comparisons of Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler are surpassing ignorant and offensive. In this case, though, it hasn't just been overwrought protesters who indulged themselves. State Sen. Lena Taylor warns us that "Hitler abolished unions in 1933" and that's "what our Governor is doing today." The implication is that the Governor's limitation of collective bargaining by public employees (something that wasn't widely permitted until the sixties and seventies and still isn't in some states)is comparable to and somehow of a piece with the dangers and horrors of National Socialism.

She is, of course, wrong as a factual matter. Twice. Walker hasn't proposed the abolition of public employee unions - much less "unions" in general - and there actually were unions in the Third Reich. In fact, the national trade union organization, the Deutsche Arbeitsfront, was run by an alcoholic and corrupt socialist sympathizer named Robert Ley. It administered a wide variety of often elaborate worker benefits as part of a program called Kraft durch Freude ("Strength through Joy"). Ley ultimately hung himself before he could be tried at Nuremberg.

To be sure, the DAF was controlled by the state. But everything in Nazi Germany was controlled by the state and party pursuant to a policy of "Gleichschaltung" - or "coordination." That's precisely why the comparison - even were it true - would be so preposterous and shameful. In a very real sense, Hitler tried to abolish or transform every institution that is familiar to us (including the family).

I hadn't appreciated that Scott Walker has proposed a totalitarian state or anything like it. I did hear that he wants public employees to pay amounts toward their retirement and health insurance that are higher than current levels but still much lower than the average for the rest of us. I guess I missed the part where people were going to be dragged from their homes and sent to concentration camps. I read that he has proposed a modification of the authority of state and local governments to enter into collective bargaining agreements and collect dues on behalf of unions, but must have overlooked the abolition of the rights of free speech and association. I saw that he wants voter approval of raises above the cost of living for unionized public employees (i.e., those represented by the unions that he hasn't abolished). But who knew that this was somehow the equivalent of forced sterilization and extermination camps?

I hadn't noticed that the budget adjustment bill sets up a WalkerJugend in which all children must be enrolled or that it establishes a paramilitary organization - maybe called the Leibstandarte SS- Rebecca Kleedfisch - to intimidate political opponents and "undesirables." I'll have to read it again.

It's funny, but it's not. All of us - across the political spectrum - are burdened by people who say foolish things. It is one thing for idiotic Hitler comparisons to be made by anonymous protesters holding homemade signs (although the probability tht they are public school teachers is frightening). After all, we on the right had to live down hairbrush moustaches drawn on President Obama.

But it's another thing for the same odious comparison to be made by someone who claims to be a community leader. Where ever she is hiding tonight, Lena Taylor should be ashamed. When she and her colleagues decide to come out and abide by their oath of office, she should apologize.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

You just wrote an entire column about Godwin's Law? Are you sure you're not overpaid?

Brew CIty Brawler said...

Remember when you were at that party for Liberal Fascism author Jonah Goldberg? That was awesome.

Brew City Brawler said...

Also, you're leaving out that part where Hitler did actually suppress independent trade unions upon coming to power.

Madison G-man said...

it's not necessarily that Scott Walker is like Hitler, but that the entire right wing/Tea Party are a bunch of bullies, and Scott Walker is a pawn of a larger Republican wave that resembles dictatorship--stripping the rights away from the common man that have been the fabric of this country for decades and even centuries. I am not a public employee, but I support both the protesters and the senators who left the state yesterday.

Madison G-man said...

oh and by the way, nice "riots" we're having in downtown Madison, huh? That's not exaggerating?

George Mitchell said...

While it's uncertain how the temper tantrum will play out, one thing is absolutely clear: Senator Taylor will not apologize.

Dad29 said...

Yesterday, 20 arrests, G-Man.

Saturday will be even more interesting, with Mr Union Violence himself appearing.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

You made a valid point on the previous post about the unions being a special interest vs. tea partiers generally representing the public; however I still don't see a whole lot of difference between the rage over health care reform and obstruction by the Congressional GOP and what's going on in Madison and with the Senate Dems.

It's voter rage and obstruction by the minority party all the way around. Aside from the moronic signs and chants about Hitler, at least the protesters in Madison sort of have a factual basis for their protest: for the most part, their collective bargaining rights are being taken away. Tea partiers in the fall of '09 were clamoring about non-existent death panels and complaining about the government putting its hands on their Medicare.

The bottom line is what we're seeing in Madison and DC and elsewhere is the result of years of incompetence and neglect by our elected officials and the people who put them there.

John Foust said...

Not only that, but I heard Walker can't TriForce, either.

Anonymous said...

While the comparison is hyperbole, Lena Taylor is not "of course, wrong as a factual matter." She is correct as a factual matter. On April 21, 1933, the Nazi Party issued a decree, which was carried out on May 2, 1933, directing the seizure of independent trade union property and the arrest of union leaders. Yes, the Nazi regime set up a sham union led by Ley, and gave it the unions' assets. But the point is that the Nazi regime perceived unions as an independent power center and a threat to the regime. Your incessant blathering about "public choice theory" points up the same thing about unions today. They are an independent power center and hold some sway over government. By eliminating, for all practical purposes, the ability of public sector unions to engage in collective bargaining, Gov. Walker is rendering them impotent. He's not an anti-Semitic mass murderer, of course. But . . . he is doing the same thing Hitler did.

George Mitchell said...

Governor Walker is assuming a larger and larger position in the national debate. In contrast, Senator Taylor is.....well, you can finish the sentence.

krshorewood said...

One thing you have to admit about the Tea Parties. They like beer, and they like to Putsch.

Anonymous said...

Did you write the same thing about history teachers being overpaid when the teabaggers were calling Obama 'Hitler' and showing up with pictures of Obama that looked amazingly like Hitler? Oh no, I bet you didn't perhaps because you are a teabagger and by gosh, you just think Scottie Boy is the greatest thing since sliced bread!

I think Scottie Boy is a hell of a lot worse than Hitler. He sucked at being county exec and since being in office for about two months, he sucks at being governor.

Madison G-man said...

Dad29...20 arrests is hardly rioting among 40,000 people...our city is safe but I wouldn't be surprised if we have 10 arrests down there on a normal day....and there are conflicting reports..I read something yesterday that the Madison police have made no arrests.

Dad29 said...

....broken glass from the doors to SCOWI, trash and litter everywhere inside and outside the building, reporters, Leggies, and aides being roughed up and spat on...

Just another day in the Capitol, eh?

Joe Worker said...

I agree with Madison G-man's comment. Walker is not a hitler but it is hard not to see some dictator-like behavior coming out here.

John Foust said...

Says Madison.com: "A Madison police sergeant noted that people picking up trash around Capitol Square left it cleaner than before the protests began. They even scraped up debris uncovered by melting snow."

Anonymous said...

Wow, brilliant posts by some of you. Walker is much worse than Hitler. Cutting the budget is far worse than causing the deaths of millions of people. Hell, he may be worse than Stalin, Pol Pot, and Ming the merciless. Some of you are so ignorant it boggles the mind. What exactly goes on in your head?

jp said...

I like the chachy title of your post

JP said...

CORRECTION CATCHY

Kaleb Kemppainen said...

SCOOT WALKER suck s he shouldn't even be in office he docent have a college degree that's Wat u get for electing a Republican I'm 12 and i know more than u blind people i mean come on Wat ever if they don't have good tools to teach then how good can they teach teachers are our future without them were would Mr Scott walker be tell me that!!!!!!!!

Madison G-man said...

Kaleb, you are my hero. You are also the future of this country, and we need to recall Walker to make sure you get a decent education.

Charles McCain said...

Hello:

As a historian with a fair amount of knowledge I would respectfully point out that all individual labor unions which had freely elected leaders were abolished by the Nazis and every union lumped into the German Labor Front as you point out. However, the German Labor Front was simply a way for the Nazis to control the supply of labor to various projects. It had no power to better the working conditions of its members.

However, comparing any current politician to Adolf Hitler reveals an ignorance of what Hitler actually did and how he governed. He ordered the mass murder of millions and the invidual murder of countless people. He started World War Two, ignited the worst discrimination against Jews, homosexuals, Quakers and the Christians of the Confessing Church. He murdered or imprisoned many Socialist Party (democratic socialists like the Labour Party in the UK) deputies to the Reichstag all of whom voted against the Enabling Act which combined the office of President of Germany and Chancellor into one office of "Der Fuhrer."

I think Governor Scott has said a number of foolish things and done a number of foolish and short sighted things. But he is hardly Adolf Hitler and to suggest such both cheapens the villainy of Hitler and makes critics of the Governor sound hysterical.

Charles McCain
author of An Honorable German