Our Opponents in the Culture of Death
October 1997By David R. Carlin
David R. Carlin is Associate Professor of Sociology and Philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island.
Voltaire once said, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." We can give this a 20th-century twist by saying, "If Hitler did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."
Of course, ages prior to our own did not lack someone who personified evil: Satan has always been available. But in the latter part of the modern era, many find it difficult to believe in supernatural beings of any type, especially the diabolical type. Yet even those who feel secure only on the "solid" ground of naturalism have witnessed what appears to be evil incarnate, in an actual human being, one who was seen, heard, photographed, and recorded.
Thus Hitler has provided many people with a kind of universal standard of evil, like the standard meter they keep in Paris. Sometimes he is utilized by way of mitigation -- e.g., "Granted, X is very bad, but he's nowhere near as bad as Hitler." More often, however, he's used by way of rhetorical attack -- e.g., when we suggest that someone bears a moral resemblance to Hitler, or shares certain principles with him, or is tending in a Hitlerian direction.
This rhetoric, it should be noted, is made use of by both Right and Left. Prolifers often compare the American abortion-on-demand regime to Hitler's genocidal practices. This is the point of calling abortion "the silent holocaust." And the homosexual movement suggests that its foes are more than a little Hitler-like. This is the point of the pink triangle symbol.
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