Monday, March 28, 2005

Little Mengeles

Jay Nordlinger is the managing editor of National Review. Most of the articles I have read by him in the last few years have been fawning profiles of the macho men in the Bush administration, like this one from The American Enterprise .

Another matter that Nordlinger addresses regularly in his Impromptus column in NRO is the rhetorical excess of leftists and liberals. His most recent column is no exception. He quotes Jesse Jackson saying "Today the Congress reconvenes to save a woman — Terri Schiavo — from starving to death, but then votes to starve millions every day," and "There is a fascist attack on civil rights and civil liberties. We cannot be silent." Outrageous stuff, to be sure. Fortunately, few people pay attention to Jackson anymore. I remember when he was a powerful media figure. Those days are long gone.

Below that, Nordlinger disdainfully quotes from an article by Leslie Gelb referring to "Republican Ayatollahs." This would seem to be an example of such extreme language except that in context it is clear that Gelb is not denouncing Republican extremism:

Mr. Cheney also does well at herding his party's ever-feuding foreign policy ayatollahs and keeping them faithful to White House policy. Republican ayatollahs come in three varieties: The old-fashioned conservatives of the Jesse Helms and John Bolton type, torn between their traditional isolationism and the impulse to nuke the bad guys and get it over with. The neoconservatives, mainly former Democratic conservatives, ever eager to wield U.S. power to change the world to suit our interests and values. And the classic realists . . . who like power, but who give equal weight to limits imposed by human nature, culture and politics.

Also, one should point out that the Ayatollah who has received the most publicity in the last few months is supposedly one of the good guys.

I am devoting all of this space to Nordlinger, ordinarily one of the minor stars in the neocon cosmos, because the most extreme words by far in his column are those he uses. Refering to the Terry Schiavo case he reproduces a brief exchange with an unidentified friend: "
In a discussion with a friend, I mentioned something about Dr. Mengele's laboratory. He said, 'No, this is worse. Mengele had the pretense — indeed, the argument — that he was benefiting humanity [with his inhuman experiments]. Where's the argument here? They're just starving her to death."

Talk about not doing nuance! Nordlinger and his friend casually reduce Michael Schiavo, his lawyer and numerous judges to the level of not just ordinary Nazis--but worse than one of the most contemptible and repulsive monsters of the Third Reich. Note how black and white the issue is--"They're just starving her to death." End of story. There are no open questions about Terry Schiavo's intentions or level of consciousness.

I am sympathetic towards arguments in favor of saving Terry Schiavo. It is easy to see that her husband, who has two children with another woman, may not have his wife's best interests at heart. But I haven't seen anything that justifies the recent interference by the Bush administration and the Congress. But if one takes Nordlinger seriously, then Bush brothers--who are standing by while Judge George Greer opens up an Auschwitz in the Sunshine State--are both moral cowards of the first order worthy only of the contempt of decent people. And speaking of the people; some conservative have criticized poll results that show most people oppose congressional interference in the Schiavo case, but I haven't seen any reason to doubt that such results are largely accurate, so Nordlinger can't have much regard for the American people either.

His statement reminds me of the recent controversy surrounding Ward Churchill's reference to victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns." Churchill's use of such contemptable rhetoric has led to a campaign on the right to deprive him of his job in the department of "Ethnic Studies" at the University of Colorado. I wonder if any of the same people will be outraged by Nordlinger.

Update: Ben Stein confirms it. We now live in Nazi Germany:
I wonder if a poll of Aryan Germans would have found a majority who cared enough to pull a lever to save the Jews. I suspect a good majority -- voting in total secrecy, of course -- would have said, "Let them die. They're inferior and not worth providing food for." So now we are at that level.

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