Incrementalism for drastic action justification

What is, or should be, so much of a concern about comments such as those offered by ‘Turban’ Durbin? Victor Davis Hanson nails it in his column Hitler, Hitler, everywhere (Jewish World Review June 23, 2005 / 16 Sivan, 5765)

As a result, the bar is lowering. In today’s climate, Alfred Knopf has already published a novel about killing the president. Charlie Brooker writing in the Guardian in London prayed for another Lee Harvey Oswald to take out George W. Bush. Comedians, New York plays and art exhibits also bandy about assassination.

Each time a public official evokes Hitler to demonize the president, the American effort in Iraq or its conservative supporters, cheap rhetorical fantasy becomes only that much closer to a nightmarish reality where the unstable, here and abroad, act on the belief that America really is Hitler’s Germany.

We will all soon reap what the ignorant are now sowing.

In the past this phenomenon has been visible in the names we have used for our enemies. Look at the slang for the Japanese or Germans in WW II or for the VC in the Vietnam war. First is to minimize stature of the enemy in your mind by using names that diminish. Then construct evil behaviors to condemn. Pretty soon you will be talking yourself into a state where action becomes justified, then warranted, then necessary. When the bar gets lowered as the action gets more severe, then you know there is a problem.

The key is being able to measure the height of the bar. We see gross mismeasures being applied in grievous ways. The Durbin Gitmo allegations being so far from reality is one. WMD as the single reason for war is another. The ‘Bush Lied’ mantra is another. The nomination fillibuster rationalization is another.

Calling it ignorant is perhaps too kind.

Comments are closed.