My notes—the junk I clutter up my computer with, especially other people’s notions that sometimes strike me as relevant—indicate that “Reductio ad Hitlerum” roughly translates to mean “Just because Hitler had an idea first, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad one.”
However, another take on this term is an essay by Jonah Goldberg in National Review
a few years back, citing a postulation from a friend of his to the effect that once Nazis are referred to in any context in a discussion, intellectual discourse is out the window, because there can be no moral equivalency between the evil the Nazis perpetrated and any behavior—no matter how savage—since then.
I favor the latter notion.
I am hearing a lot of moral equivalency lately. It’s attached to the passage of the new immigration law in the state of Arizona, whereby any person having contact with a law enforcement officer may be asked for proof of citizenship, and can be detained and possibly deported if they cannot produce said documentation.
The milder objections to this law include allegations that it promotes racial profiling, invades privacy, and is opening the door to a police state tantamount to Nazi Germany. Right away, the doctrine of “Reductio ad Hitlerum” kicked in; almost from the moment Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law. Any rational discussion of the ramifications of this legislation was pre-empted by open-border advocates screeching “Nazis!” and rioting in the streets. The issue is reduced to chanting bumper-sticker slogans, acts of wanton vandalism, and violence directed at police officers trying to maintain public order.
A sane person cannot compare any type of contemporary behavior to the institutionalized genocide practiced in Nazi Germany. The results of that nation being hoodwinked by a charismatic leader, and enslaved to his ideas, are unparalleled in human history. Nothing else in modern times compares to the depraved actions of the National Socialist Worker’s Party that held sway over Germany after World War I and throughout War II. (I find it odd that comparatively little mention is made of the Stalinist purges or the racially-rooted savagery of the Japanese during this same time period, but the Nazis ended up being the poster children for absolute evil.)
I’ve employed comparisons to Hitler and Nazis as a rhetorical tool. There is no better verbal shorthand than to conjure up the analogy between someone I perceive as a bad pony and an SS storm trooper in a black uniform. Unlike leftist radicals of a few years ago who offered up Photo-Shopped images of George W. Bush as Hitler, and some fervent right-wingers of today who do the same with pictures of The Red Herring, I will not resort to putting Barack Obama or any other public figure’s visage into a visual Nazi context. I am somewhat ashamed of comparing Obama to Hitler in print; not because it had no historical precedent—which it does, in terms of the politics of the Weimar Republic of post-War-I Germany and the fraud of “change you can count on” today—but because my employment of Nazi imagery of any sort detracts from the legitimacy of my arguments.
With this concept of absolute evil in mind, let’s take a glance at Arizona. This is a state that is overrun by illegal immigrants on their southern border. Some of these immigrants resort to crime when the American dream they risked their lives for doesn’t pan out right away. Phoenix is the home-invasion and kidnapping capital of the nation. Arizona is in the top five states of murders per capita, in spite of its relatively sparse population. The straw that broke the camel’s back appears to have been the murder of Robert Krentz, a prominent rancher who confronted some illegals on his property, and was shot to death for asking what their business was. The depredations of the lawlessness of Mexico have spilled over onto American soil. This has been happening for quite a few years, and has finally come to a head.
One of the most telling signs of the frustrations of Arizonans on the border was the statement by Governor Brewer that she had written to President Obama five times, requesting he take definitive steps to secure our southern borders. Those letters were ignored and unanswered by anyone in the White House. The Arizona law was passed, in part, to force the federal government into some sort of action. The reality of domestic crime is bad enough; there is also the threat of Islamic terrorism coming out of left field and infiltrating our borders amidst the hordes coming north unimpeded.
I want to be very careful about what I say on this issue. I am honored to know a number of people from Mexico, Central and South America. The Latinos I know are among the most decent, hard-working, and righteous people I have ever met. I would never deny any of them the opportunity to come to America to have a better life, or, better still, the chance to stabilize their home countries and pursue the ideals that made this nation great.
I have one stipulation, though: let’s do it legally.
America has a checkered past on matters of racial equality, immigration, genocide, territorial expansion, legislation of morality, and almost any other subject of social relevance you’d care to name. We haven’t always gotten it right, and have ourselves done grievous wrongs in the past. As a nation of immigrants, we applied diverse solutions to complex problems, and sometimes came up totally wrong-headed in our approach. Like raising children, we made it up as we went along.
Taking it by the numbers, here are a few items where you’ll get no argument from me that we’re guilty as charged:
1. Although we’re 95% color-blind as a nation, there is still racism in America. The positive changes in my lifetime have been breathtaking, but there are still those who consider people “who ain’t like us” to be inferior by virtue of their race. There are no inferior people; just inferior behavior patterns. Our history is rife with racial persecution, but anyone living today who attempts to play a “race card” as justification for anything is as guilty of racism as rabid as that of our ancestors. I am always careful to ascribe the proper meanings and distinctions to the misused terms “prejudice,” “bigotry,” and “racism.” Each word has a proper meaning, but more and more often, they are lumped together as a general denigration for anyone who doesn’t agree with the politically correct philosophy of the moment.
2. We didn’t like the Irish, the Chinese, the Jews, Latinos, or the free blacks when they arrived here at various times after us WASP types did. Every ethnic group that has arrived en masse
in America has expressed a desire to shut the door on those who may follow. Those who embrace and assimilate the American ideal prosper in the crucible of democracy. Those who cling to tribal mores and cultural bigotry become slaves to the nanny state, and as they gain political influence, their social policies destroy the society they embraced in thought, if not in deed.
3. Like the aforementioned Nazis, we are guilty of genocide. Within a few decades of first arriving on America’s shores, we illegal refugee immigrants—mostly from Europe—decided that there could be no accommodation or co-existence with the native peoples of this land, so we set out to exterminate them. In the course of a couple of hundred years, we almost succeeded. By the start of the 20th century, we had the “heathen Injuns” reduced to a handful of cowering survivors whose very survival was as much up for grabs as the extinction of the indigenous herds of buffalo that once fed them. Government doctrine at the time was “the only good [one] is a dead [one].” (Phil Sheridan to George Custer, circa 1869.)
4. Large parts of this vast country—from sea to shining sea—were bought, stolen, or conquered from others who were here first. In places like California, Texas, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and parts of the Bahamas, as well as Manhattan and Florida, “we stole it fair and square” as the saying goes. What we couldn’t obtain by bribery, coercion, opportunism, or default-as-godforsaken-wilderness, we occupied as spoils of war. It is human nature to desire territory; Hitler and his Nazis claimed all of their expansionism, especially in Eastern Europe, was to provide “living space” for the German people.
5. One of the unfortunate offshoots of any type of societal organization is the tendency of those charged with running things to overstep their authority and usurp the right of people to determine what is personally proper for them. Just because I live a certain way, it doesn’t confer upon me any special authority to tell you how to live and behave in your personal life. As long as you acknowledge that your rights end where the rights of others begin, then a truly free person should be allowed to make any decision concerning health, sexual preferences, libido-feeding [i.e. drugs, alcohol, etc.], child-raising, and spiritual values. Since the original American refugees were mostly fleeing poverty or religious persecution, once the nation was formed, one of our first acts was to ensure spiritual freedom—that is, the right to believe in whatever works for you. However, once it was determined that this would be a nation of laws, endless attempts began for some folks to decide what was right for other folks; those in the deciding position were and are elected to public office and make the laws. Spectacular examples of the failure of those wishing to enact their will upon others are the Volstead Act—the original alcohol “prohibition”—and the current “war on drugs”—the second unviable prohibition, resulting in billions of wasted dollars and ruined lives beyond those of the actual consumers. I don’t think any state actually has laws still on the books prohibiting homosexuality, miscegenation, or sexual acts other than procreation between man and woman, but frankly, I don’t care enough to look it up. People are gonna do what they’re gonna do, and now that we’ve arrived at the fiscal realization that there is only so much tax revenue available to fund enforcement of any of the myriad of laws we’ve passed, I believe the money could be better spent. The attempted legislation of morality is another of our great failings, producing only a criminal underclass and millionaires among those bold, ruthless or stupid enough to defy the laws of the land.
So, we’re all collectively guilty as charged.
I consider myself a patriot, loyal to my country and what it stands for. I am not a “blind” patriot of the “love it or leave it” ilk; I am not one of those who considers America without flaws and guiltless in every past action we, as a nation, have taken. However—and this is paramount—what I do believe in is the idea
of America; a nation where people are free to determine for themselves the way, shape and fashion of their own lives. Our Declaration of Independence declared “all men are created equal,” but failed to note that stupidity, avarice, or laziness might kick in later for a lot of people. God gave you the inalienable right to succeed or fail; the rest is up to you. In our less-than-perfect society, we have done better than anyone else in history to level the playing field and protect the right of people to be somebody, do something, or suck fumes and die in the gutter if that is where their personal compass directs them. This notion may sound brutal on its face, in light of today’s nanny-state socialist mentality, but if you think about it, that’s about all you’ve got coming from the universe: a chance to be somebody on your own merit, or die trying.
God gave you a free will, and a brain. The rest is up to you.
[END OF PART 1]
About the only Latin phrase I can paraphrase with certainty is “Non ome licitum honestum,”
which is my personal motto: “All that is allowed is not honorable.” I don’t live by this maxim any longer, but I see it all around, so it must still be applicable to contemporary life.
Back in the day, when state schools still aspired to the remnants of a “classical” education, they tried to teach me Latin and Spanish. I was a “C” student and sucked at both electives, but, I never studied. Teachers, guidance counselors, and my parents all warned me I was too smart for my own good, and pressured me to excel scholastically, but as long as I passed into the next grade advancement and got to pester the girls I grew up with, I was a happy camper. Later in life, after time and circumstance had slapped me around a bit, I realized this happy-go-lucky attitude had not served me well, but, hell, teenagers know everything.
If anyone can provide a more concise transliteration of “Reductio ad Hitlerum,” please do so. My readers are a lot smarter than I am; I just instinctively know a few big words and their synonyms.
So, where were we?
Oh, yeah. God gave you and me brains and free will, and the right to be as much of a failure as we’d care to be. I’m something of an expert on betraying God’s gift of life and ability based on initiative: I consider myself blessed in the extreme to have someone in my life who loves me after much travail, and to be sitting on a couple of acres of land that I own outright. Like the Latin and the Spanish, I didn’t work hard at obtaining either goal in life.
Yeah, I’m bragging a little bit.
It isn’t that hard to make it in America, especially if you’re born here. My daddy always cautioned me against the attitude that “the world owes you a living,” but, being an American child of the 1950s, I considered it my birthright. (There is something in The Bible about a feller named Esau, a birthright, and a bowl of grits, but we won’t go there.)
I seldom count my blessings aloud, but when I have presented a testament to others, I always mention that in Third World countries, my shabby little home would be considered a palace. It’s two stories with a finished basement; in many parts of the world, there would be a minimum of four families living here, and transients sleeping over in the loft.
The proof that our Founding Fathers knew whereof they spoke when they said “All men are created equal” is evident in two givens:
God gave us all brains and free will, and a right to be free if we so desire it.
Anyone born in this world since 1776 who aspires to any personal ambition beyond being a slave to a collectivist state, a monarchy, or a theocracy has risked life and limb, and sacrificed personal fortune, to somehow get to America.
In the 1980s, I had a bad habit of pointing out to anti-apartheid
advocates that if they wanted a rebuff to their arguments, all they had to do was look at the border between South Africa and the rest of the African continent. The minefields were raked over to reveal fresh footprints, but the remains of those who didn’t make the far side of the killing field were left there as a warning, and, perhaps, a broader statement. In spite of their segregationist, oppressive national policies, pre-Mandela South Africa offered the promise of the best way of life on that continent. People were literally dying to get into
that country when the rest of the politically correct world was urging its inhabitants to get out.
If you think that point is brutal or irrelevant today, all you have to do is look at the border between Mexico and the United States. We don’t leave skeletons rotting in the sun—they get decent burials when we find them—but the fact remains: people are dying every hour of every day to get into this country. No matter what their race, ethnicity, or national origin, people born with brains and the God-given ability to think for themselves are dying to get into this country, which they regard as the last, best hope of humanity. We don’t have the minefields of South Africa or the automated machine gun nests of East Germany; all we have is a cadre of overworked Border Patrol officers who pick up interlopers where they can and send them packing in the other direction, to try again another day.
So far, an estimated twelve million (12,000,000) interlopers have successfully eluded detection, and crossed into America unhindered. They live in a twilight zone of paranoia and furtiveness. Many pay taxes under assumed names, and try to fit unobtrusively into American society. They are good people; they just can’t deal with the bureaucracy that determines who stays and who goes. They are criminals by default, and they know it. Escaping from whatever personal hell of poverty and political oppression they left behind, the knowledge that they are on the wrong side of the law in the last, best haven on earth can’t sit easily with them.
It hurts to say it, but they are still wrong. They have
broken a fundamental law. Like my speeding tickets, it’s an easy enough law to comply with if you care to. An Arizona politician put it succinctly a while back: “I won’t allow you to break into my house, and I don’t take kindly to you breaking into my country.”
Get in line!
If you want to be an American, go through the process. Learn English. Learn civics—how the system works—and history, so you’ll have a deeper appreciation of where this nation is coming from. As a Confederate offspring, I know a couple of things about separating my heritage from my sense of citizenship. If you started here illegally, register, pay the fines that might attach to an amnesty program, and seek to assimilate. Be prepared for a pop quiz before you recite The Pledge of Allegiance. Tolerate the nasty-assed bureaucrats with a sigh and a shrug. Fill out the paperwork. There’s more of it today, but the payoff is just as great as it was 200 years ago.
The alternative is being a pawn to coyotes
[human traffickers], smugglers, and terrorists. Yeah, you see that torch of freedom and opportunity glowing just to the north, but how free are you really when the course of your life is dictated by border scum and the ever-present threat of detection and deportation, to start the cycle over?
Back in the early 1980s I had some dealings with human traffickers. A couple of coyotes
—one Mexican; one American—had been running mohados
[wetbacks] across the border by air for a few years. When they decided to retire and terminate their business, they flew one last planeload of men, women, and children deep into the Arizona desert without interdiction by border authorities. Once there, the crew of three disembarked and got into waiting Jeeps. They told the confused passengers that trucks would eventually arrive to carry them to their destinations further inland.
They lied. The women and children died in the vicinity of the airplane. The desiccated bodies of the men were scattered in all directions up to 16 miles out. They died trying to find help for their families. Overflying the scene, the local sheriff remarked “I’ve never seen anything like this in my 26 years in this office.”
It looked like Jonestown. There used to be justice in the world; the American is still serving a life sentence in a federal prison. The Mexican is still dead because “an instrument of policy” delivered a 240-grain copper-jacketed message south of the border. Back in the day, America had a president who didn’t equivocate, apologize, or welcome disasters as photo-ops.
Elian Gonzales saw his mother drown in the Florida Strait ten years ago, trying to bring him to America for a better life. Not all the Cubans on the infamous Mariel boatlift were insane, criminals, or spies; most are now living productive lives as American citizens. Last Sunday, “60 Minutes”—which I almost never watch—ran a piece about the All-America Canal, where hundreds of people have drowned trying to run the border. The mortality statistics along the Rio Grande in Texas are so staggering as to be mundane in reportage. I’ll bet even money that any Border Patrol officer who’d care to speak out can tell more harrowing stories than the one I’ve cited here.
My heart goes out to these people who only want a better life for themselves and their children. I have seen the dirt floors of the haciendas
, and the 50-pound bags of rice and cases of tomato soup that make up an entire month’s cuisine for families of four or more in the Third World. I lived “rough” with my first wife when I was young; I also knew that things could and would get better the moment I got off my ass and applied myself, however slightly, to achieving something better and more stable in life. That was the promise of the idea
of America, and it hasn’t quite died in 235 years.
All this being said…
Running the border is wrong. It’s against the law. You want to live in a nation of laws, you have to respect them. Running the border is unfair. There are a great many good-hearted people out there waiting patiently for the bureaucratic gears to grind, knowing that eventually they’ll be handed a little American flag, hold their hands over their hearts, and begin that mantra of “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”
Finally, there is the joker in the deck.
Although the current regime refuses to admit there is such a thing as “Islamo-Fascist terrorism”, there are wild-eyed fanatics out there who want to kill us for no better reason than the facts that we exist, and worship the Higher Power in a manner that is unacceptable to them.
An ADM—Atomic Demolition Munition, a.k.a. “suitcase nuke”—weighs about 90 pounds in the man-portable version. The super-sized, crew-served, Jeep-portable variety weighs 180 pounds. These devices have been around since the 1950s; about as long as I have been here. The totalitarian Islamo-Fascist nation of Iran will possess the capability to produce these weapons by the end of this year. Once they have tested one, and joined the ever-growing “nuclear club”, they will “lend” theirs to any wild-eyed fanatic as readily as I’d let my neighbor borrow my lawn tractor.
By mutual agreement and common sense, the US and Soviet Union gave these ill-conceived weapons up in the 1960s. You might have to build one from scratch these days, but such things can still be had. (Try to un-ring that
bell, boys and girls!)
If all these destitute, hopeful people are hiking unimpeded across our borders en masse
on a daily basis, then given time and tide, sooner or later some intrepid jihadist
will tote one of these puppies into Phoenix, San Antonio, or El Paso, and light the fuse. In the chaos following such an event, there will be retaliation without too many questions being asked, and a lot more innocent people will be incinerated.
The borders of America must be secured. I have been catering to my puke factor, and staying away from this week’s brouhaha about the Times Square car-bomber. That Shazam! feller was a piss-poor student in his Taliban training; a McVeigh ANFO device would have been much more effective.
If outrage over the Arizona law can motivate Dudley-Do-Nothing and his myrmidons in Congress to address the issue on a national level, then the state’s passage of that legislation will have served a noble purpose, even if it’s overruled by the Supreme Court.
I can vaguely recall a hilarious audio skit by Firesign Theatre involving “May I see your papers, please?” (Anyone who has never taken LSD and laughed until they peed their pants will have to Google™ this.) Who would’ve thought it would really come to this? (I am flashing back on Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention singing “It can’t happen here!”)
For those morons—or maroons, as Bugs Bunny called them—who are screaming “Nazis!” and plastering swastikas in refried beans on city hall, spray painting “Burn this racist city!” on the sidewalks of Phoenix, chanting “Racism!”, or any of that other silly-ass shit, I have three words: CUT IT OUT!
As the Useful Idiots of The Left informed the rest of us ignorant peons when Obama-care was ramrodded into law: It ain’t the end of the world. You ain’t gonna die right away, so get over it!
Even though I’m obviously an American of German-Irish extraction, with a pronounced Southern accent, if carrying and producing on demand my identity papers will for one moment impede the activities of the border predators, then my markedly Libertarian self will be glad to oblige. The government is stealing so many freedoms on a daily basis; this is one I’ll gladly hedge on if some good may come of it.
(And yes, I know what Benjamin Franklin said about the difficulty of regaining a relinquished freedom.)