Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The "H" Word

A few people took exception to a recent post of mine in which I compared the U.S.A. today (the country, not the newspaper) to Germany in the 1930s. It seems that people object strenuously to comparing any human being, in any way, to Adolf Hitler. To do so is to trivialize Mr. Hitler's supposedly unprecedented, unapproachable, incomparable, all time number 1 evilness, and anyone who makes such a comparison is a Holocaust denier, or something like that. Of course I didn't actually compare anyone to Hitler, except perhaps by implication, but even inviting people to make their own comparisons turns out to be politically incorrect. Who knew?

So anyhow, the SecDef now compares Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to Adolf Hitler, and not just by suggestion. Unlike certain other world leaders, Mr. Chavez, as far as I know, has never tortured anyone, never started any unprovoked wars of aggression, and is not responsible for the deaths of millions or hundreds of thousands or even one human being. The basis for Mr. Rumsfeld's comparison, as far as Rumsfeld has explained himself, is that both Hitler and Chavez were elected legally: “I mean, we’ve got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money. He’s a person who was elected legally — just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally — and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others.” So I guess that lets Mr. Rumsfeld's boss off the hook.

(It is news to me that Hitler worked closely with Evo Morales and Fidel Castro, but live and learn. If you follow the link, MSNBC will let you vote on whether the comparison was appropriate.)