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.
What’s especially crazy is that Stein seems to think the idea of Obama speaking at a football stadium will automatically make people think of Hitler. Considering Stein spent a good chunk of his recent laughumentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” strenuously implying that a belief in evolution leads to Nazism, it’s not surprising that he is reminded of Hitler when he contemplates Obama addressing 75,000 supporters. Apparently everything reminds him of Hitler.
He is technically correct about one thing, though: Speaking to a huge throng of enthusiastic listeners is indeed “something the Führer would have done.” Some other things Hitler would have done: Give radio addresses. Have coffee in the morning. Speak with advisers at private meetings. Plan political strategies. Run for office. Do you see where I’m going with this?
The other Obama/Hitler comparison was even more bizarre, I think. It’s from a blogger named Melissa Clouthier — I’m sorry, DR. Melissa Clouthier, as she almost always refers to herself (she’s a chiropractor) — who saw the flier for Obama’s public appearance in Berlin and was struck by how closely it resembled one of Hitler’s posters.
Here is the Obama flier in question:
And here’s the Hitler one it reminded her of. Get ready for this. The similarity is eerie:
Do you see it? Both posters feature a man’s face in profile!
Dr. Melissa Clouthier writes:
This is about artistic tone. The profile view. The serious expression. The shading. When I saw the Obama flier picture, my mind immediately called up this Hitler image and I was struck by how similar they are in feel the color choice differences aside. Unnerving really.
Yes, aside from the color choice, the similarity is unnerving. Well, aside from the color choice, and the fact that the men are facing opposite directions with different facial expressions, and that the angles of the photographs are different, and that the text is straight on one and diagonal on the other — aside from all THAT, the similarities are unnerving.
And, as with Stein, Dr. Melissa Clouthier seems to think that seeing the Obama flier will instantly make a person think of Hitler. Her update to her post indicates she’s very upset with the left-wing readers who took her to task for making the comparison. She wasn’t comparing Obama to Hitler in terms of his politics or anything like that! She was only saying that his flier obviously resembles one of Hitler’s! Surely ANYONE would see the similarities!
I assume this picture also reminds Dr. Melissa Clouthier of Hitler, since it also features a person with a serious expression in profile:
For the record, Obama’s flier was probably actually inspired by the Bauhaus school, which greatly influenced German design in the early 20th century and was shut down by Hitler in 1933. Here are a couple of Bauhaus-style posters from that era, both of which resemble Obama’s much more than Hitler’s does:
Barack Obama has certainly inspired more zeal and fanaticism than most political candidates in recent memory, so I can see, superficially anyway, how comparisons to other zealously supported leaders (like Hitler) come to mind. And obviously, when you see a politician appear before a massive crowd in the capital city of Germany, it’s hard not to think of Hitler. But if the only actual similarity Obama has to Hitler is that a lot of people really, really like him … well, that’s not really enough to warrant the comparison, is it?