I don’t usually think about Adolf Hitler very much. No more than the average person, I guess. Ten or eleven times a day, tops. But my Internet browsing on Thursday led me to two extra Hitler mentions, and in both cases the person being compared to him was Barack Obama.
Now, I don’t know about you, but where I come from, you don’t compare someone to Hitler in a serious political conversation unless that person has done something truly Hitler-like. And it has to be something BAD that Hitler did, too. Comparing someone to Hitler because they have facial hair, speak German, or once wanted to be an artist is unfair. None of those activities is inherently evil, and many people besides Hitler engage in them.
(I have a friend who loves men with blond hair and blue eyes. I once remarked that she had the same standards as Hitler. This was unfair of me — but it was not a serious political conversation. Also, it was funny, which excuses almost everything.)
The first Obama/Hitler reference came from former Nixon speechwriter and Bueller-seeker Ben Stein, who was discussing the Democratic National Convention with CNN’s Glenn Beck. Obama is going to deliver his acceptance speech at a Denver football stadium rather than in the more traditional (and smaller-capacity) indoor facility, and this doesn’t sit well with Ben Stein. He said:
I don’t like the idea of Senator Obama giving his acceptance speech in front of 75,000 wildly cheering people. That is not the way we do things in political parties in the United States of America. We have a contained number of people in an arena. Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace, well, that’s something the Führer would have done. And I think whoever is advising Senator Obama to do this is bringing up all kinds of very unfortunate images from the past.