Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let's be Frank

A protester gets tabled

The estimable Barney Frank, U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, was recently confronted by a crazed opponent of healthcare reform. There is an element of irony in the situation: Someone in the throes of mental derangement is fighting expanded healthcare. She's a front-line example of why it's needed. Frank's constituent characterized the administration's push for healthcare reform as a “Nazi” program. Unlike some Democrats who find themselves at a loss when it comes to dealing with the loony fringe, Frank knew what to do.


Of course, not everyone agrees. It is, unfortunately, all too easy to find people who were offended by Frank's comments. Because he was supposedly being rude to a constituent? Oh, not at all. Because they think the crazy constituent is right!

This is the sort of thing that passes for “reasoning” among members of the rabid right:
The only reason the media smirks at the Hitler/Obama comparison is due to a mistake; that mistake is believing that everyone in the room has the same publik skool education they themselves do.

Hitler was a Nazi. “Nazi” comes from the German words for “national socialist”. The Obama/Hitler link is an absolute when it comes to political ideology.
This interesting label-based argument rests on two simple assumptions, both of which are simply wrong.

Assumption #1: Hitler was a socialist.

That's because he called his party the “National Socialist Party.” Can anyone see the tiny flaw in this statement? (Perhaps we remember that East Germany called itself the “German Democratic Republic” while it was under a Communist dictatorship. Or that George W. Bush proposed to weaken clean air standards by proposing something amusing named the “Clear Skies initiative.” What a joker he was!)

The label always tells you what's inside the jar! You can always judge a book by its cover!

Assumption #2: Obama is a socialist.

It certainly has gotten easier to become a socialist. You don't even have to advocate public ownership of all of the means of production anymore. No! It's quite enough, thank you, for initiating an expansion of health care with a proposal that includes a public option. Or trying to jump-start the (capitalist) economy with an infusion of Federal cash. Nowadays you can be a capitalist and a socialist at the same time!

Socialism just ain't what it used to be!


Anonymous said...

"Socialism just ain't what it used to be!"
Neither, apparently, is the quality of education.

The Ridger, FCD said...

As a socialist*, I really resent people thinking Obama, or either of the Clintons, is one.


* okay. A Social Democrat.

Anonymous said...

The sort of thing that passes for “reasoning” among members of the left:

Hitler was not a socialist.

Obama is not a socialist.

So Obama is not like Hitler.

Zeno said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for your brilliantly inapposite example.

For future reference: We demonstrated the invalidity of an argument. No one is saying that the invalidity of an argument affirms the opposite of that argument. (Hence the pointlessness of your comment.)

Now, as it just so happens, we do affirm the opposite of the original agument -- mainly because of its vapidity.

llewelly said...

Barney Frank looks like a Hitler Cat.

MPL said...

"Nowadays you can be a capitalist and a socialist at the same time! Socialism just ain't what it used to be!"

Well, the Chinese government has been demonstrating that for quite some time now.

Zeno said...

An excellent point, MPL. I wonder if people will notice how most economies this days are "mixed" (even if the people in charge of the government prefer not to admit it).

Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised that the Republicans and their right wing mouthpieces (all of Fox News and good old Rush) haven't started a crusade for yet another Constitutional Amendment to ban socialism in the United States for eternity! Since marriage between 2 members of the same sex is seriously worthy of amending this "sacred" document, then certainly we should defend the capitalist corporate system in similar legal ways. Why haven't they thought of this, or am I just out of the loop?

By the way, love your blog - just too lazy right now to create an account.