Kirchoff Misrepresenting History

I tend to ignore posts from Steven Crowder (click on the link to read the post) simply because they are littered with logical fallacies and are poorly argued for, however, in this case, I have made an exception. I apologize if this post is too long and not as free-flowing as it could have been. Keep in mind, I am typing this on my phone and that makes editing and especially research cumbersome.

Kirchoff’s main argument is fairly simple: Hitler was a socialist liberal and socialism leads to Nazism. I am tempted to skip the minor arguments made, but I think it is worthwhile to explore them given that they are common taking points within the conservative circles. So let us begin with dissecting this article.

(i) “Rewriting history is pretty common for leftists, as their history is littered with injustice (the KKK was founded by Democrats, did you know?). Injustices they claim to fight against today. Awkward.”

She says it is pretty common for leftists without qualifying whether it is some, most or all leftists. Given the context as well as the lack of insightful nuances throughout the article, I think it is fair to interpret the lack of the qualifier as implying the statement applies to all of those that would be considered as leftists. This also seems to be consistent with her other articles in which she almost always makes grand generalizations while ignoring much needed clarifications.

(As a side note, articles written in this manner should be disregarded. They highlight the author’s bias which results in a one-sided argument that lacks a scholarly approach. As we continue with the article, it will become fairly obvious how her bias is reflected in the article.)

Thus Kirchoff is making a hasty generalization (an inductive fallacy) by reaching an inductive generalization using insufficient evidence. She is talking about scholars that also happen to be leftists, politicians or members of the public? We don’t know. She doesn’t cite any specific examples that would allow us to further explore and contextualize her statement.

Are some leftists the only individuals that rewrite history? Of course not. Anyone that would argue otherwise would be committing the fallacy of incomplete evidence (i.e. cherry picking).

Let’s not pretend that only one side of the aisle attempts to rewrite history–there are numerous examples from some rightists as well (e.g. see the debacle over Texas history books).

As for the KKK being founded by some democrats, although that is true, the story is not as simple and straightforward as it is often portrayed. The anti-black Democratic Party bears no resemblance to the party of today. That alone breaks apart the argument presented in the quote. But let’s give this topic a little bit of justice and discuss it briefly.

Although the party names have stayed the same, the platforms had reversed in the mid-20th century. White southern democrats were quite explicit in their racism, there is absolutely no doubting that fact. If you have any reservations over that statement, just look at the 1948 Dixiecrat platform [1].

These disgruntled democrats felt as though their traditional values were being infringed upon (among other reasons), and began to migrate out of the Democratic Party in the span of the next two decades [2][3][4][5].

During this period of time, the national Republican Party, in their efforts to gain political support in the south, began to welcome the Dixiecrats going as far as to implementing the infamous “southern strategy” (in the 1960s) that appealed to racism [6][7][8][9]. Shortly afterwards, there was a shift in the so called “solid south” from democrats to republicans beginning in national then state and local elections.

Some vehemently argue, contrary to the historical evidence we have, that there was no such shift–they argue, this is merely a myth. Let’s ignore the historical details. If there was no shift in platforms, how do we explain the fact that currently the over-whelming majority of KKK members support Republicans while the minority groups support the Democratic Party as opposed to during and/or before the “Reconstruction” era? That right there seems to me to be quite revealing.

Furthermore, the argument that because a political party supported x therefore it cannot or it discredits their efforts in supporting y, considering the changing political climate, is fallacious. This is known as a red herring. It is intended to be a distraction from a relevant or important issue.

For example, one can just as easily argue, borrowing Kirchoff’s rationale: “did you know that during the Reconstruction era the Republicans were condemned as the party of big government and supported the centralization of power? That must be awkward.” Do you see how that is merely a distraction and ignores the relevant information?

(ii) “Adolf Hitler wasn’t “right wing.’ If you take nothing else from this post, just remember Hitler was a socialist.”

This is a complex topic. What do we mean by left or right wing? The mistake some people often make is that they tend to think of these labels as unidimensional when in fact two or three-dimensional models are better representative of the continuum of politics.

Historically, the terms “left” and “right” were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates Generals: those sitting on the left of the monarch were opposed to the ruling body while those on the right were supportive of the status quo.

Today, however, the terms have changed and become more nuanced. What makes it even more complicated is that the meanings of the terms change depending on the context of any particular political scenario. In addition to that, there are several ways of defining these terms which includes in terms of economic, political or social views. In other words, left and right are not clearly defined–the fact of the matter is that the political beliefs, words and actions of most individuals, that is, including Hitler, can’t be put neatly into an ideological box and have a simple label put on it.

In the case of Hitler, if we are hell-bent on putting a label on him, I think it would be appropriate to claim he was a slightly center-right fascist. For example:

(i) He was anti-capitalist but also anti-communist

(ii) He supported the industrialists

(iii) He dismantled trade unions

(iiii) He did not redistribute wealth; he rejected egalitarian economy

(v) He did not destroy class system; he thought the socioeconomic stratification was justified

(vi) He did not believe in collective ownership

(vii) He was not exclusively socially liberal or conservative

(viii) He placed import restrictions

(ix) He installed a massive military

(x) He was nationalistic and jingoistic

(xi) He did not support equal rights

(xii) He was anti-democratic

(xiii) He retained “private property”

The point is that Hitler can be labeled as left, centrist or right of the political continuum depending on what we want to focus on and what dimensional model we want to use. We can cherry pick information, as Kirchoff has done, to get to place Hitler in whichever side of the spectrum we want to vilify our “opponents.”

Apart from being left or right, I think I would go as far as to say that Hitler was definitely not a socialist (as understood), but instead he created his own brand of political ideology that was mishmash of parts and pieces from various economic, political and social philosophies. For example:

(i) Capitalism: profits go to those whom own the means of production, driven by market demands and accentuated by conflict between labor and capitalists.

(ii) Marxist socialism: means of production are owned by the workers and profits are shared; people working for the good of everyone; driven by market demand.

(iii) National Socialism: People work for the good of the country (and the “superior race”) with profits going to those whom own the means of production; driven by the needs of the state; the conflict between classes is suppressed by the state.

Although within socialism there is a subset of varying ideologies, what characterizes socialism from other economic and social systems is its aim for the social ownership and democratic control of the means of production regardless of race.

Hitler simply did not support the core tenets of socialism. As he himself has admitted in Mein Kampf [10] and other historians pointed out [11][12][13][14][15], his use of socialism in the party’s name and some speeches were merely attempts at using the popular talking points of the time to gain support (it’s also helpful to study the rise of Hitler; Nazi was initially comprised of varying competing ideologies).

Furthermore, one cannot put much stock in the fact that the word socialism is in the party’s name as being meaningful–it is actions that matter. For those that do use this line of reasoning, it is akin to claiming the Democratic Republic of Congo, the German Democratic Republic or the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) are democratic because the label “Democratic” is in the name.

(Kirchoff asserts that National Socialism is the same as Democratic Socialism; it should be somewhat apparent that this is not a semantic but rather a foundational difference.)

(iii) “After that depression, Hitler made a huge promise to his people: employment for all. How did he do it? Roads and infrastructure…So Hitler created jobs…through government. While at the same time, he criticized certain segments of the population, demeaning them, blaming the countries woes upon them. The rich, they just ruin everything. Sound familiar?”

It does sound familiar, sounds awfully like Trump. Remember, he criticized the elites for not paying their fair share of taxes (and not doing more to manufacture in America), he blamed China, Mexico, Japan and other countries for their effect on our economy and he demeaned segments of the population.

But of course, Kirchoff nor her supporters are suggesting this applies to Trump but rather the scary progressives like the likes of Bernie Sanders.

According to Kirchoff, anyone wanting to rebuild our infrastructure and create jobs in the process while criticizing what they deem to have a negative impact on the economic and social fabric is going to morph into Hitler. Apparently Theodore Roosevelt was a Nazi or for that matter, essentially every world leader. Now you know.

What Kirchoff is appealing to here is the association fallacy and slippery slope. It is an appeal to emotion that involves hasty generalizations by making an irrelevant association between two individuals merely by focusing on some similarities while ignoring the differences.

(iv) “If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch WW2 Surivor’s Account Draws Chilling Similarities between Nazism and Liberalism…Public education, where children are at school all day long, with state-funded and state-sponsored curriculum… convinced convinced yet?”

Can we agree this and the point she is making on national healthcare is fallacious? If not, consider that public education has its merits and although in our country it has some negatives, it has also had a positive impact on our society. The problems with our educational system is solvable (see my post on this issue and universal healthcare). Also, public education predates Nazis and virtually all democratic developed countries have public education. I wonder why?

(v) “The great sacrament of the left, abortion. You’ll be pleased to know that Hitler was pro-choice…Compare the Nazi’s application of abortion to how Planned Parenthood (a government-funded organization) operates. Also read up on Margaret Sanger, who echoed much of Hitler’s sentiment.”

As it is often common in this type of discussion, pro-choice is conflated with being “anti-life.” The matter of fact is that abortion is a complex and rightfully so, controversial. I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer. The issue comes down to whether at conception it is appropriate to identify an embryo as a “person” (personhood vs human being) and thus its rights supersedes that of the mother.

One can appeal to religious interpretations, scientific facts and philosophical deductions to make a cogent argument on both sides of the aisle. They all have their issues, let’s not pretend that one side has far superior arguments.

Given the complexity and subjectiveness of the arbitrary concept of “personhood,” in multicultural diverse society (there is even disagreements among religious people), in such circumstances, the choice should be left up to the individual and their conscious.

(This is a super complex topic and right now I am not interested in deconstructing the arguments.)

As for Margaret Sanger, her sentiments are not even in the ballpark of Hitler. I implore those who think otherwise to do objective research rather than taking individuals like Crowder or Kirchoff, who have a long history of using “alternative facts,” for granted (if you decide to click the link provided in Kirchoff article, please fact check everything; almost every other sentence is downright false).

Let’s make this very simple and I hope it will push those that believe otherwise to do some research. If Margaret Sanger had the same sentiments as Hitler, how do you explain this:

1. In 1966, the year Sanger died, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. …Our sure beginning in struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her” (King, 1966).

2. The PPFA Margaret Sanger Award is given annually to individuals of distinction in recognition of excellence and leadership in furthering reproductive health and reproductive rights. In its first year, the award was bestowed upon The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.”

(Take a moment to read Dr. King’s acceptance speech [16].)

3. One last note, in addition to King’s admiration of Sanger, other African-American heroes like Dubois and Powell had also admired her. Why do you think that is?

(please do not send me the opinion piece from LifeNews that attempts to address this; the author is simply quote mining like there is no tomorrow without fully elaborating on Margaret’s ideas/statements including eugenics.)

(vi) “Review: Hitler demeaned the Jews. He blamed the economic and national depression on them. He instituted national boycotts of their business. He then took their money through taxes and outright looting. Hey, maybe they weren’t paying their “fair share.””

Kirchoff apparently thinks that our industrial elites including the banks and lobbying efforts have had no impact on our economic woes. This is absurd. Virtually all economists and the general public would disagree with her.

I would recommend anyone who actually takes this seriously to broaden their minds by actually looking at what economics, including conservatives, have concluded. I have written quite extensively on this issue and if interested see my previous posts.

(vii) “Compare the Gestapo with how leftists want to jail people who do not believe in man-made climate change.”

Ugh. I will leave it at that.

[1] http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25851

[2] https://books.google.co.tz/books…

[3] http://www.stat.columbia.edu/…/re…/unpublished/reversal2.pdf

[4] http://economics.yale.edu/…/Facul…/washington/south-dems.pdf

[5] http://cjonline.com/…/201…/how-dixiecrats-became-republicans

[6] http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Southern_strategy

[7] http://www.encyclopedia.com/…/applied-and…/southern-strategy

[8] http://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/new-southern-strategy

[9] https://books.google.co.tz/…/The_Southern_Strategy_Revisite…

[10] http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv2ch07.html

[11] http://www.encyclopedia.com/…/german-his…/national-socialism

[12] https://books.google.co.tz/…/The_Coming_of_the_Third_Reich.…

[13] http://europeanhistory.about.com/…/Was-Adolf-Hitler-a-Socia…

[14] http://www2.dsu.nodak.edu/users/dmeier/Holocaust/hitler.html

[15] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nazi-Party

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