Friday, July 30, 2010

Not everything Hitler did was bad

We live in a strange world in which anything can be criticized with "Hitler did that" or "Hitler did something similar". I wonder how we uselessly attacked people in 1930. I suppose we had Lenin. But the 1910s must have been pretty difficult times for poorly supported arguments.

Hitler did personally orchestrate the industrialized murder of millions of innocent people and started wars which caused the deaths of millions more. That's certainly bad. If someone wanted to criticize someone for having an idea similar to "kill millions of innocent people", I could see that as a valid criticism. In general I think people can agree that "kill millions of innocent people" is a bad idea, regardless of whether or not Hitler had done it.

The problem with Hitler wasn't that he was Hitler. It's not as if he was born a symbol of timeless and ruthless evil. Hitler isn't even a specific name, since I presume his father also had the name Hitler, as well as his mother, grandfather, perhaps some uncles and aunts, and so on.

The bad parts of Hitler are the bad things he did. Not who he was or everything he did, just the bad parts. When he orchestrated the murder of millions of innocent people, that falls under the "bad things he did" category. When he told France "go fuck yourselves and your ridiculous 'guilt for WWI debt'", I'd put that in the "good things he did" category, since the Treaty of Versailles was timeless bullshit. When he invaded France, through Belgium, in addition to invading just about everywhere else, that falls under the "bad things he did" category. This in no way diminishes the positive aspects of things like leading the recovery of the German economy and pulling millions out of misery and poverty.

Hitler is dead. Even assuming conspiracy theories were true and he actually escaped to go hide in South America, by now he'd be over 120 years old and probably dead. Not even his Aryan super-race descended from gods could live that long, and he clearly was not part of it. Someday Hitler won't have as much impact as he does now. Just as outside of England and Ireland people tend to not know much about the mass killings attributed to Cromwell, and therefore rarely use pictures of people with Cromwell's mustache attached, so some day Hitler won't evoke much emotion or outrage. Hopefully by then we'll have figured out that we shouldn't criticize ideas for "being like Hitler", but instead should criticize them for the true problem "being like killing millions of innocent people".

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