Tag Archives: reductio ad Hitlerum

Andrew Cuomo and Reductio ad Hitlerum

1 Mar

At yesterday’s WBEN-sponsored gun rally in Albany, where we were meant to understand that a reduction of legal maximum magazine size from 10 to 7 is a Constitutional infringement, there were the predictable ad hominem attacks against Governor Cuomo. Some of the protesters likened the Governor of New York State to Adolf Hitler, the genocidal totalitarian dictator of Germany from 1933 – 1945, who waged total war against free peoples throughout the world. So, here’s a handy chart to help set that record straight. 

Unscripted, Off-the-Cuff, Reductio ad Hitlerum? (Updated)

30 Oct

I tend to refer to Chris Collins’ leadership style as shtick.  He’s a fantastic salesman, and there are a lot of suckers out there.

Well, part of his shtick is to blame Albany for whatever might be convenient to blame Albany for.  That’s why he’s busy comparing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Hitler, Napoleon, and calling him the anti-Christ.

When first confronted with the fact that his Reductio ad Hitlerum was perceived as particularly offensive that people in his own party reacted to it as being unbelievable, Collins quickly issued an apology acknowledging that there’s no place in politics for Hitler comparisons.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Collins on that point.

But the “joke” at the Adam’s Mark was not the first or only time Collins used the Hitler line.

Yesterday I asked Grant Loomis, the county executive’s director of communications, if Collins had ever made a similar reference to Silver before. He assured me that Collins had had not, that the remark was “unscripted” and “off the cuff.”

He then paused a moment and backed off a little, adding, “…to the best of my knowledge.”

I told Loomis about the Buffalo State students, and the two members of the faculty, and Loomis said, “Oh.”

Buffalo State students and two of their faculty members confirmed to Artvoice that Collins had used the exact same joke with them recently.  So, Collins is a serial Godwin-violator.  Artvoice’s Geoff Kelly concludes,

But it’s clear to me that his remark comparing an orthodox Jew to Hitler and the anti-Christ was not “off the cuff” or “unscripted”; it was not a momentary lapse in judgment. The joke is part of Collins’s repertoire. He has used it more than once, who knows how many times. Perhaps he wasn’t even aware that it was offensive until the uncomfortable silence he met at the Adam’s Mark on Saturday night. Maybe he didn’t know it was offensive until Elizabeth Benjamin exposed the remarks in the New York Daily News on Sunday. Maybe he still doesn’t believe what he said was offensive.  He certainly did not recognize it to be offensive between the time he made the remark to that group of college students and the time he made the remark on Saturday. Or he did and didn’t care. The former makes him an idiot, the latter makes him arrogant and heedless.

Bruce Fisher, Giambra’s former Deputy CE who writes a column for Artvoice, is particularly incensed by not only Collins’ statements,  but by almost universal silence from politicians on both sides of the aisle.  I think he’s overdoing it, but it reflects how many people throughout New York State – in places that have a bit more integrated diversity – might react.

Collins’ spokesman issued a follow-up release that – no joke – raises the fact that Collins has Jewish roots.

“The County Executive, at times, uses very harsh language in taking on what he believes are opponents of the taxpayers.  As the descendant of a Jewish grandfather, the County Executive recognizes that this characterization of the Speaker is wrong.  He has apologized for that characterization publicly, and personally apologized to the Speaker.  The County Executive will not let this mistake, however, distract him from his focus on protecting taxpayers and challenging the status quo locally and in Albany.”

Shelly Silver is bad enough of an actor in state politics that a dive into the deep end of Hitler comparisons isn’t even remotely necessary.  If that’s how you start out, you’ve already let Silver win the argument.  Silver isn’t the anti-Christ.  He isn’t Hitler.  He isn’t Napoleon.  He’s a very powerful man in state government who is supported by some very strong interests and constituencies.  He is profoundly responsible for many of the problems in Albany state government.  He is the very embodiment of everything that’s bad in state government.  Efforts to unseat him and diminish his power have fallen flat.

Collins could be exposing all of that and leading a statewide push to implement changes to make state government more transparent, democratic, and accountable.  He could be joining up with the Brennan Center to recruit political leaders statewide to push for rules changes that would drastically reduce Silver’s power.

Or, he could throw around Hitler analogies and pretty much screw up his chances to be seen as acceptable for statewide office.

Tomato, tomahto.

UPDATE: It occurs to me, upon hearing Dave Debo read part of Collins’ most recent statement on the air, that he decided to compare Silver to Hitler because Silver is one of several unnamed “opponents of the taxpayers”.  The equivalence, therefore is that it’s perfectly reasonable to compare someone to Hitler because Hitler was an “opponent of the taxpayers.”  Not a territorial expansionist dictatorial monster who murdered millions of people in Europe.  It’s absolutely disgraceful.