Acton Institute Powerblog

The Reductio ad Hitlerum

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It looks to me like Obama has this election about wrapped up. Why?

Some of his opponents are resorting to the tired and fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum (aka argumentum ad Hitlerum).

Exhibit A is this video:

(The original context is this video.)

This stuff is just beyond the pale in so many ways. You can find all manner of other similarly odious political rhetoric at YouTube (just check out the “related videos” category). Also, in 2004 Joe Carter discussed what he called “The Hidden Danger Behind the Hitler Comparisons.”

In real Nazi-related news, today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bishop George Bell, an ecumenist, politician, and friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who did his best to support the cause of the nascent opposition movements within Germany.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he also serves as executive editor the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored articles in academic publications such as The Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, and Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and has written popular pieces for newspapers including the Detroit News, Orange County Register, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2006, Jordan was profiled in the book, The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists And Innovators Who Are Changing The World Through Faith. Jordan's scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology. Jordan is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and he resides in Jenison, Michigan with his wife and three children.


  • Patrick

    Reality check, Jordan: Are you really more upset by the comparison made in this video to fascist propaganda than the actual politicization and objectification of children by the Obama supporters in the original video? The former is a direct response to the latter. Using kids as political fodder is creepy. Put on a pious face and tsk-tsk the “odious political rhetoric” if you like, but the reality is that the original video has the stench of fascism and they should be called out on it.

  • [i]Are you really more upset by the comparison made in this video to fascist propaganda than the actual politicization and objectification of children by the Obama supporters in the original video?[/i]

    Yes. Maybe using kids as political fodder is creepy (perhaps often, but maybe not always. There may indeed be exceptions).

    But I am certainly more disturbed by the use of Hitler, Nazis, and the Holocaust as political fodder.

    Does [url=]this video[/url] also have the stench of fascism?

    It isn’t as if Obama supporters have a monopoly on hero worship and even idolatry of political figures. That phenomenon has a rich historical tradition in American culture.

  • James Pakala

    This is as outrageous–if not more so–as “kill” and other things a Palin audience recently shouted.

  • Tracy

    Besides the clip wrongfully associating President elect Obama with Nazi theme. I also felt the clip had a powerful message that anything associated to Nazism could lead to diaster and fear to the nation. That seems like not a fair message at all and even to include kids that symbolizes inocent is really sad.

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