Is Playing the Hitler and Nazi Card Always Wrong?

I generally like the writings of P. J. O’Rourke. One of my favorites is, “When you think of the good old days, think ‘dentistry.’” Can you imagine dentistry before the advent of precision medical devices and anesthetics, not just for dentistry but for all invasive medical procedures? “The greatest invention of the modern world is anesthetics,” Dr. Gary North writes, “Prior to 1844, in preparation for an operation, you drank booze until you passed out — hopefully. Then the physician — ‘sawbones,’ he was called — got started hacking away.”

In a recent article, O’Rourke discussed playing the Hitler card in reference to comments that Mike Huckabee made about President Obama’s Iran deal. Huckabee said that the pending agreement with Iran “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Here is O’Rourke’s response:

“’Playing the Hitler card’ is an infallible sign that a politician has run out of intelligent, substantive and plausible ways to criticize an opponent. This would be amusing (Mel Brooks made Hitler amusing), except ‘playing the Hitler card’ is also an infallible sign that a politician has run out of amusing ways to criticize an opponent.


“Claiming that the President of the United States ‘will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven’ is not a cogent critique of the Iran nuclear deal, however bad the deal is. Nor is it an insightful thing to say about the administration that made the bad deal.”

A person can agree or disagree with O’Rourke’s take-down of Hukabee, but the question is, is playing the Hitler card always wrong? Maybe a case can be made that it’s used too much, but should it never be played?

Hitler playing_cards

There are those in Iran who shout “death to America” and “death to Israel.” There have even been calls for wiping Israel off the map (although this is in dispute). President Obama said as much in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, 2011: “Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map.”

If this is true, then a comparison to Hitler is not inappropriate.

There is another Hitler comparison that may fit. Consider the case of Adolf Hitler and Planned Parenthood and eugenics. Similar comparisons could be made between the Nazis and what is presently going on with Planned Parenthood in using abortion babies for medical purposes in the same way that that the Nazis used Jews for medical experiments:

  • “The demand that defective people [should] be prevented from propagating equally defective offspring . . . represents the most humane act of mankind.”1
  • “We prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded.” (Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, 4.)

While it’s not always appropriate to play the Nazi and Hitler cards, sometimes it is.

Hitler and Planned Parenthood

  1. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Chap. 10. []
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