Ad Fuhrer-em

We’ve been doing a lot of Ad Hitlerem-spotting these days at the NS, but, hey, it’s the season of the Godwin.  Check out the statement from Brenda Barton (R) from Arizona on Facebook:

Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer… where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest??? Do we have any Sheriffs with a pair?

I object for a few reasons.  First is just linguistic.  It’s der Fuhrer.  Second is analogical – how in any way is using the force charged with protecting the parks to close the parks like Hitler’s abuse of power in Germany? And park service rangers are given police force training.

Here’s the rich part.  Barton’s responded to criticism of her post, and she’s issued the following clarification.

What I did suggest, rather directly, was that the National Park Service enforcement personnel (referring to them as ‘thugs’ for their reported behavior) were simply following orders of ‘their leader’ – and I used the German phrase for emphasis, Der Fuhrer. . . .I am referencing the Presidents behavior as indicated by his actions. The Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary defines ‘Fuhrer’ as ‘(2) a leader exercising tyrannical authority. . . . As many are aware, some recent comments of mine on Facebook have touched a sensitive nerve with many people. Additionally, many have simply taken my posting out of its contextual environment. . .  Had I chosen my words differently, or had the President offered to use the power of his office to lessen or mute the public impacts of this impasse in Washington, we might not be having this discussion.

OK, so the defense is as follows:

1. When I use ‘De Fuhrer’ I just mean ‘tyrant’

2. When I used the term it was for emphasis, and to take it as more is to take it out of context.

3. It’s the president’s fault that I had to compare him to Hitler.

Point-for-point, silly.  In fact, to use 1 and 2 together is inconsistent.  The term ‘Fuhrer’ has the emphasis it does not because its usage as leader, or even tyrant, but as THAT tyrant named Adolph.  The context of using ‘Fuhrer’ is the context of exemplifying Godwin’s Law.  3 is amazing.  In effect – it’s not my fault that I can’t think of another apt analogy… I mean the guy’s literally like Hitler when he does this!   (This is, really, a case of instead of backing away from the Ad Hitlerem, but embracing it!)

5 thoughts on “Ad Fuhrer-em”

  1. We could fill our days with variations on the ad Hiterlem, the strategies people typically employ once they’ve been caught, and the ironmannish moves people use to justify them.

  2. Hi John, you’re right that there are more than enough of these silly analogies. This one was interesting for reasons you cite above. First, it’s a unique form of Ad Hiterem, as (like with the Chamberlain analogies with appeasement), it takes an indirect route to bringing up old Adolph. Second is the Iron-Manning that follows. Invoking context, invoking special literally acceptable usage, and then just embracing the analogy. Hey, when someone iron-mans like that, who needs straw men?

  3. Just curious, what did Ms Barton think would happen when the government shut down? And, further, since it is likely that each department, including National Park Service, planned in advance what actions they would take upon closure, does she really think that the President should have reviewed each department’s plans line by line, and then cherry-picked certain sites to NOT close, according to what he thought the Tea Party would be sensitive to?

    Of course if he did, I can just see the outrage now – “President deliberately chooses to protect the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument from vandalism, while leaving the WWII memorial unprotected!!”

    Why does she think that the president would concern himself more with parks and monuments that he would with things like defense, the FAA, and other more essential services?

    The Tea Party is asking us to imagine two scenarios, both totally unbelievable – “hmm, let’s see, Newt Gingrich regularly drives by that scenic overlook – let’s barricade it just to show him!” or “Hmm, better not close that scenic overlook, or Gingrich will just lambaste me on Fox News”?

  4. @g: You’re right that National Park closures sure would be a pretty inefficient use of the jackboot. The force of the analogy has to be less the closures themselves and more the use of uniformed folks forcing people out. Of course, it’s still silly.
    @surjac: Careful with Godwin tu quoque!

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