“Not Everything Is Munich and Hitler” | The National Interest

David A. Bell writes a much-needed rebuke against the popular tendency to compare everything with World War II and Hitler. As he explains, “Comparing modern threats with World War II is neocon nonsense.” It may seem like harmless drama, but this kind of hyperbole has real consequences. As Bell points out, “References that were already misleading a generation ago have become dangerously absurd. The putative lessons of history have become imprisoning, rather than enabling. In this sense, we really do suffer from an excess of it.”

His discussion of the Munich lesson is particularly noteworthy.  “Ever since, it has been de rigueur for Americans to justify action against alleged foreign threats with Hitler analogies, and to denounce the alleged appeasement of such threats with Munich analogies. Sometimes, the comparisons have been laughably inappropriate.” We see almost all foreign events through this lens and it has made us particularly war prone. We have come to see violence (or the threat of violence) as the most effective tool of foreign policy.

To read the other dangers posed by using inappropriate WWII analogies go here: Not Everything Is Munich and Hitler | The National Interest

In conclusion Bell writes, “But it can still help if as many people as possible take the time to remember just how false the comparison actually is, and if they keep in mind that a keen sensitivity to the parallels between the past and the present is not always a good thing. When it comes to the moral lessons of the terrible years the world lived through between 1939 and 1945, particularly those of the Holocaust, we must always remember. But when it comes to the strategic lessons of that era, we might do well, sometimes, to forget.”

I agree with Bell’s overall analysis, but I have to disagree with his solution: forget history. The problem is a result of superficial knowledge, bad analogies, and a desire to inflate the importance of one’s own issues by associating them with extreme examples (Hitler, genocide, slavery, etc.).

 

Ronald L. Feinman: “Why This Historian Is Worried for His Country”| History News Network

“Hate speech is reaching new heights with the participants in the Donald Trump campaign. With the continuing and rapid growth of Donald Trump’s support, and the increased likelihood of Trump either winning or ending up a strong second in the Iowa Caucuses on February 1, and now seen as having a real chance to be the GOP nominee, after seven months as the frontrunner in public opinion polls, history indicates to us that there is clearly a growing danger of assassination due to rising rhetoric on all sides!”

I agree with Ronald L. Feinman that the threat of political assassination is very high, but I think it’s been extremely high during Obama’s entire presidency.

Source: History News Network | Why This Historian Is Worried for His Country