Too Far. Just Too, Too Far

I’d planned to write about something else today, but got majorly sidetracked by a fit of apoplexy. I'm on a couple of email lists and one of the members is an older gentleman, quite conservative, who delights in sending really awful jokes (that are often so awful that they're very funny) and sometimes, he sends jokes and opinion pieces, right wing ones. I usually just skim-and-delete because he's entitled to his opinion, but the latest one has me foaming at the mouth and as I appear to be incapable of ranting at my elders, I'm going to do so here.

The e-mail in question is entitled "Life Magazine Photos, Old History - but could it happen again?" And by the time I got to that e-mail, there was a follow-up talking about the astonishing early colour photography, but how the last two frames were a bit much. I got little paranoid and ran the attached pps file through my antivirus and my anti-malware programs first and then sat back to check it out and it turns out to be as destructive than a computer virus would’ve been to my equilibrium (or more). It's a collection of Life Magazine (supposedly) photos from the Third Reich, Hitler in various stages of whipping huge crowds into a frenzy, massive crowds doing the Sieg Heil (so disturbing still), Hitler with his generals and relaxing with friends and I wouldn't say I was enjoying it as much as again wondering how on earth an entire country fell under this man's spell. And then came the last two frames.

Penultimate frame: three rectangles next to each other with three faces, underneath each is the word "change". On the left is Hitler, above him the words National Socialims, on the right is Lenin and above him Marxist Socialism and in the middle, President Barack Obama, looking particularly malevolent and above him Democratic Socialism. At the bottom of the frame "in troubled times, the fearful and naïve are always drawn to charismatic individuals."

Final frame: a small square with Barack Obama raising his index finger and underneath this picture the word "Obey!"

And I have just about had enough of this bullshit. I have no problems with people disagreeing with their leaders, their colleagues and their friends if there is some thought behind it, but this? This abuses freedom of speech to such a degree that I'm nauseous. I grew up remembering the Nazi occupation of my country, I grew up listening to stories told by my parents and their friends about what happened during that occupation and I find it offensive to the point that it's almost making me cry that these people are using a terrible, terrible time in living memory for the purposes of making a point. A point that can only be made because the fuckwits live in a democratic country that will let them say anything they want.

Hitler instituted a program of ethnic cleansing that ended up killing 12 million people and that was "just" in the camps - let's not talk about how many died fighting that war. Hitler was Kristalnacht and the Aryan race and Auschwitz. Obama is talking about health care reform, introducing certain aspects that could be construed to be similar to the universal healthcare currently laying waste to the country of Canada (my god… the streets are running with the blood of innocents just outside my window).

I tried to find this pps file somewhere on the net so I could link to it, but gave up after a couple of Google pages filled with videos and vitriolic screeds comparing Obama to Hitler and really. There are limits. There really should be limits in a civilized society. Disagree with the politics all you want, say you don't like the man - I did and did so frequently about the previous president of the US - but trotting out what can arguably be the worst symbol of atrocity in the last century at the slightest provocation is just ridiculous. I make fun of Fox "News" all the time and one of the things that I make fun of them for is the complete disassociation from the truth the talking heads on that channel have - and to be honest, I think I make fun of it because contemplating how someone who considers themselves a reporter, commentator or anchor in a news association could deliberately tell lies… well, isn't that what they used to do in Germany in the 30s? Oops, did I just go there? I believe I may have…

Have a bias. Go ahead - have a bias, carry it on your sleeve, let it influence to some degree (if you must) how you report the news, how you discuss politics, how you disagree with your leaders (and I certainly do – Stephen Harper, I’m looking at you and cannot wait until you no longer are my Prime Minister), but direct lies? The extreme right in the US appears to have lost all grip on reason or sense of fairness and now they are just making up shit and the really, really scary thing is that there are people out there who believe it. When you're in a position to inform, when you have influence, whether you’re the news or a politician trying to oppose a government initiative or hell, just talking to your neighbour, you need to careful and you cannot just send this kind of hate out there to people who trust you to deliver the truth, who believe what you say and act accordingly and… Well. Obviously, they can. Because they did.

Apparently, these people who live is what they call the bastion of democracy, the model of what can happen when you have freedom of speech, have forgotten that with great power comes great responsibility.


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