Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Demolishing Dumb Arguments

AAC quotes a really bad argument:
[Some say] Nazism was the result of dictatorship. Therefore after the holocaust Jews ought to be the champions and promoters of democracy among nations

Again this is an incorrect lesson. Hitler did not come to power through a violent revolution, but, rather, through an election. He became the German chancellor through a democratic vote in the German Reichstag.
Though this stupid argument has become the darling of the undemocratic right, it is 100 percent wrong. And ludicrous, besides.

Hitler did not become Chancellor through an election. He got that job through a series of back-room deals. The best he ever did in an honest election was 37 percent, and that wasn't enough to win. Once Chancellor (again, via backroom deals not an election) he became absolute dictator by capitilizing on the Reichtag fire, a fire he set and used as an excuse to begin a brutal crackdown, directed primarily at Communists, Social Democrats and other liberals.

The real lesson, in fact, from Hitler's rise to power, is not that Democracy is dangerous, but that Catholics are dangerous. The bit of legisltation that finally made Hitler supreme ruler was called the "Enabling Act." It transfered power from the Reichtag to the Chancellor and his cabinet, including the power of legislation, budget, approval of treaties and initiation of constitutional amendments.

In attempting to secure votes in the Reichtag for the Enabling Act, the Nazis made heavy use of terror, blackmail and empty promises. The Social Democrats, the liberal party, adamantly refused to vote for the Enabling Act, but Hitler was able to win crucial support from the Catholic Center party.

On March 23, 1933, the Enabling Act came up for a vote. Nazi storm troopers encircled the Reichstag, and legislators had to pass through a ring of tough-looking, black-shirted Nazi thugs to enter the building. While legislators considered the vote, they could hear the storm troopers outside chanting:

"Full powers -- or else! We want the bill -- or fire and murder!"

Only one party went down fighting. When the Reichstag voted on the Enabling Act, it passed 441 to 84. All 84 dissenting votes were Social Democrats. Not one member of the Catholic Center party voted against it


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