17 February 2010

History Hypocrites

One of the latest ploys of  ideological historians is to compare the Confederacy to the Third Reich and Nazi Germany. It is a mindless, bottom-feeding tactic meant to do nothing but intimidate and marginalize those with whom they disagree on certain historical points and perspective. It is without merit, ideologically motivated, intellectually dishonest, and about as unprofessional as one can become.

Moreover, since the charge most often comes from those with leftist political views, it is quite hypocritical. I didn't start it, but I'll finish it. I'll explain in an upcoming post.

17 comments:

Brooks D. Simpson said...

I agree. The inflammatory comparison is bizarre, and tends to turn up the heat without shedding light on anything.

Of course, I've also heard comparisons of Lincoln to totalitarian leaders, etc., which appear to me to lack merit and are just as inflammatory.

And so it goes, I guess.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Brooks:

I'm glad you agree its inflammatory. The only person I've ever banned from commenting here was banned because they compared me to a "holocaust denier."

While I'm in disagreement with Lincoln's fundamental philosophy on government and believe cooler heads (on both sides) could have prevailed and prevented war, I understand your criticism.

Scott Manning said...

It is unfortunate, but once you bring in a comparison to anything related to the Third Reich, it is nearly impossible to have a logical discussion, especially in a group setting. Too many people have extreme connotations with that topic and both sides of an argument tend talk themselves in circles.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Scott:

Thanks for the input. You are absolutely correct. To compare chattel slavery (which has existed - and still does - for thousands of years) to Nazi Germany whose goal was to systematically exterminate a whole race of people, and whose leader was a certified maniac, is motivated by something other than historical analysis and discussion.

That is "activist" historical analysis on display.

Chaps said...

Leftists should be very careful making odious comparisons to Nazi Germany. The National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party was certainly an ideology of the left. The natural comparison with the Nazis is Stalin's USSR. Nazism and Communism differed only in economic theory, not in governing philosophy and practice.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

You are correct Chaps - Hitler was a man of the left.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard,

Comparisons of the Confederacy to Nazi Germany is not new. It began almost immediately after WWII. For example Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. did it in an article published in 1949. His point was that we live in world that forces us to make moral choices. He wrote: "The extension of slavery, like the extension of fascism, was an act of aggression which made a moral choice inescapable."

I agree with you and Brooks that it may be counterproductive to mix up studies of the two eras at this point. However,(and I think I disagree with Kevin on this point) I also think it is impossible to avoid moral judgments when studying history, and this is why these comparisons get made. In this sense it is not "mindless."

Schlesinger wrote: "Every historian imports his own set of moral judgments into the writing of history by the very process of interpretation; and the phrase 'every historian' includes the category 'revisionist'."

You can certainly argue that slavery does not equate to the Holocaust, but you are imparting your own moral judgment when making that interpretation.

Furthermore, it doesn't help the Confederate apologist that white supremacist groups have frequently associated the Confederacy with Nazi Germany.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob - thanks for chiming in. I realize its not new - just becoming more common (pun intended). I'm afraid there's a little more to it than just mixing "up studies of the two eras."

The context and tone I'm reading, in my opinion, is motivated by something other than serious historical analysis.

"Furthermore, it doesn't help the Confederate apologist that white supremacist groups have frequently associated the Confederacy with Nazi Germany."

I agree. But I would say the same thing to those people. Its motivated by something other than an accurate view of history.

Moral judgments? Of course, and there is room for disagreements but the comparison to which I'm referring, and the context in which its being presented, is outside a reasonable disagreement and civil discussion. As I already pointed out, I believe the motivation is to intimidate and marginalize those with whom the writers disagree.

Scott Manning said...

Saying that Hitler was a "man of the left" is the type of discussion that will end up going nowhere. I realize that you are referring to his economic policies, but nine out of ten people know little or nothing about that topic. However, all of them could tell you plenty of horrible things about Hitler including his beliefs and policies that had absolutely nothing to do with being left or right. He is a toxic figure in history and it is impossible to compare him to anything, be it the Confederacy or the left, without passionate confusion and misunderstandings ensuing.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Scott:

Primarily economic, yes. Your points are well-taken. My comment comes partly from the fact that some associate fascism with "extreme rightwing" politics and communism with "extreme leftwing" politics. I think both fascism and communism are fundamentally leftist ideologies. Of course, there are nuances involved, but you are absolutely correct, it is really impossible to compare Hitler to anything in modern history.

Thanks again for commenting. I visited your site - great sources and articles. I'll be reading more of what you've written.

MSimons said...

People who compare the South the the Nazi's are just trying to Smear Southerners; Plain and Simple.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

MS - just certain perspectives of certain Southerners.

MSimons said...

Sorry for the TYPO I meant to say
the South to the Nazi's

Jeffry Burden said...

I adhere to the something called, I think, "the Morrison Rule", to wit: The first person to use the words "Nazi" or "Hitler" in a discussion not involving Germany immediately loses. :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Jeffry:

Thanks for the input. Yes, typically those who resort to that type of thing simply prove they have nothing of substance to say.

Interesting blog (yours) by the way.

Rebel Raider said...

It is ironic that some would insist on making comparisons between the Confederacy and Nazi Germany. It was Hitler who championed the notion (made famous by Lincoln) that the states had no sovereignty outside the union. In Mein Kampf, Hitler admitted that most of the differences between Nazism and Communism were largely cosmetic.

Hitler:
"The individual states of the American Union...could not have possessed any state sovereignty of their own. For it was not these states that formed the Union, on the contrary it was the Union which formed a great part of such so-called states."

Karl Marx also spoke disparagingly of the Confederacy, calling it not a country but rather "a battle cry." He wrote a letter to Lincoln in support of the war against the Confederacy, and congratulated him on his second inauguration.

Jeffry Burden said...

Thanks for the compliment, Richard. It's not a blog, really; more of of resource/celebration site.