Friday, August 14, 2009
McCarthy: Nazis For Me, But Not For Thee
Then Rush Limbaugh stepped up and put it all in its proper context, observing that the Speaker's charges offered a propitious opportunity to examine the Obamacare plan and its close relationship with health care policy in National Socialist Germany. The inevitable result was a firestorm of lies, misrepresentations and outright slanders against Rush, all of which he has dispatched with alacrity.
NRO's brilliant Andrew C. McCarthy has today added his own voice to the debate in Nazis for Me, but Not for Thee, in which he poses the question invited by Pelosi's idiocy. Namely, Why shouldn’t socialized medicine prompt comparisons to National Socialism?
Obama has already imposed state control on a broad swath of private enterprise under the pretense of TARP and the stimulus bill, and his distinctly socialist plans for cap-and-tax and government-controlled health care are already proven to increase the size and reach of government and attack individual freedoms. It therefore behooves the American people to educate themselves about the evil consequences of statism in all its forms, including the German National Socialism that murdered millions and almost completely overran the world in the last century, effects whose causes remain exclusive to totalitarian forms of government, especially socialism in all its various mutations.
Rush responded, and the response did not smear Democrats. He repeatedly and explicitly qualified that no one was saying Obama was Hitler, that Pelosi was Goebbels, or that the Democrats were engaged in the genocidal barbarity of the Third Reich. The comparison he drew was a substantive one: between the Democrats’ proposal for socialized medicine and the German installation of socialized medicine beginning with Bismarck and reaching its shocking apotheosis with Hitler’s National Socialism. (A transcript of what he actually contended is here, and his website has other relevant transcripts, since the argument was reiterated other times during the week.) The point was to show that if Pelosi wanted to engage in Nazi comparisons, the health-care policies of Nazi Germany had far more in common with the health-care policies of the Democrats than with those of the conservative opposition, which wants health care kept private and reforms to be market-based.
Whether you agree with that or not (I happen to think it’s undeniable), Rush was also making a larger point that is not only fair argument but essential argument. There is a trajectory of socialism, regardless of the good intentions of many socialists. As he framed it, you take things such as health care, things that are traditionally understood as within the ambit of individual liberty and free choice; you move such things into the ambit of state responsibility as the welfare state emerges and grows, on the theory that it is government’s responsibility to provide for everyone’s needs (by redistributing resources); as more things are moved from private to public control, the state by definition becomes totalitarian; and, inexorably, the totalitarian state gets bad leaders and the society comes to reflect the policy choices of those leaders.
Now, we can argue until the end of time about whether that trajectory really exists and whether it is inevitable. But however you come out, it is an argument very much worth having. It goes to what kind of society we are going to be, to what the proper relationship between the citizen and the state is.
Nazi Germany is a useful historical example of socialism run amok. The genocide and terrorism ultimately practiced by the Nazis were horrible — that goes without saying. But National Socialism went on for a dozen years, it was the last stage in a progressive nationalization of German society, and there was a lot more to it than genocide and terrorism. It cannot be that because there was genocide and terrorism, the socialist aspects of National Socialism are outside the lines of acceptable political discourse. Given the immense popularity of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, one of the most important political books of the last quarter-century, it doesn’t look like Americans are as convinced as Mort Kondracke seems to be that these comparisons are verboten.
McCarthy's closing point serves notice to Pelosi and her fellow lefty hypocrites that they don't get to control this discussion:
National Socialism is banned from the Right’s case against socialism, but is somehow acceptable when leftists use it as a smear or when the Left’s nuanced geniuses, after their very thoughtful consideration, decide its invocation is suitable for mature audiences? I don’t think so.Read Nazis for Me, but Not for Thee