Something happened last night that hasn’t happened in years. Monday Night Football opened without the song that has become so identified with it, “Are You Ready for Some Football?” by Hank Williams, Jr. It seems that on Fox and Friends on Monday morning, Hank expressed his displeasure over the current occupant of the Oval Office by comparing him to one of histories most despicable men, Adolf Hitler.
Well, sort of. He did not say that Obama was Hitler. He was evidently upset at hearing that House Speaker John Boehner had played golf with the president and said that “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu” because “they’re (Obama and Biden) the enemy.” Because of these statements, ESPN decided to pull the song from the air. I’m a conservative to the core, but I say, “Well done, ESPN!”
You may have heard of Godwin’s Law. It states:
“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”
Of course, this was not an online discussion, but the principle seems to hold pretty true in political debate. Before too long in any debate, someone is going to compare someone else to Hitler. The previous president was compared to Hitler. The next president likely will be as well.
And it is a stupid move every time!
Let me be perfectly honest. I pretty much disagree with everything Obama says and does. He is a horrible president. But he is not Adolph Hitler and it is lazy debate to declare him so. It is the kind of personal attack and derogatory approach that marks American political debate today (and Baptist blogging interactions way too often as well).
Hitler was a madman who attempted to conquer a continent, imposed brutal tyranny over what he conquered, committed genocide against the Jewish people, and embraced atrocities of every kind. Obama has horrendously bad policies. But he is not a tyrant. I do not believe that any Republicans who opposed him have been tortured and summarily executed. Obama has not attempted genocide against Montanans.
We lose credibility for our arguments when we go to the extreme. I held little appreciation for Bill Clinton in office. But I think that many on my side of the political aisle cost ourselves credibility in the national debate by endorsing wild conspiracy theories and by saying extreme things about Clinton. When we inflate our rhetoric to the level that Hank and others have used, eventually it blows up in our face.
In our discussions, whether political, ecclesiological or theological, we should focus on ideas and policies and not on the demonization of the opposition. Eventually, I am convinced, that kind of overblown rhetoric comes back to haunt you. Questions about his birth certificate and Muslim heritage do not really hurt the president but they sure do make those who oppose him look silly.
I think that ESPN did the right thing. When someone plays the Hitler card, a response is necessary. Hopefully, when a new president enters office in 2013 (hope springs eternal…) and someone calls him a Nazi or plays the Hitler card, action will be taken then as well.
Its dumb and lazy rhetoric which may always be among us, but which we should never participate in.