For some Americans, the universe is pretty simple: Everything that they don't like...is Hitler.
An administration massaging its talking points...is Hitler.
Expanding background checks to include gun shows as well as gun stores...is Hitler.
Shoddy bureaucratic practices in the Cincinnati office of the federal tax agency by appointees of the previous administration...is Hitler.
Granted, as a rhetorical scheme, this has an admirable simplicity. It allows men and women who may be of limited imagination or historical understanding (meathead is the technical term) to appear as pundits on television for minutes at a time without simply staring blankly into the camera and drooling. But if we too often use the words "Hitler," "Nazi," and "Gestapo" as synonyms for the word "bad," we might lose a bit of the complexity of a particular issue. It could happen.
With that in mind, here are three simple ways to distinguish Nazi Germany from 21st Century America.
1. If you don't have T4 euthanasia for immigrants, the old and weak, the mentally ill...you just might not be Hitler. Example: "They want to organize health care! That's just what Hitler did!" Does the Affordable Care Act order doctors to kill institutionalized patients who don't measure up to government standards? No? Then it's not like Hitler.
2. If you don't have hyperinflation so bad that it takes a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread...you just might not be Hitler. Example: "Ben Bernanke's quantitative easing is inflating the dollar just like the currency was inflated right before Hitler came to power!" Has quantitative easing led to a $10,000 slice of pizza? No? Then it's not like Hitler.
3. If your gun control proposal doesn't involve completely disarming groups you have MARKED FOR DEATH, while EXPANDING gun privileges for right-wing whack jobs...you just might not be Hitler. Example: "Dianne Feinstein wants to register guns purchased at gun shows! She wants to put a limit on civilian magazines! Just like Hitler!" Is Senator Feinstein planning to liquidate NRA members? No. (She doesn't have to. They die from GSWs at a much higher rate than non-gun owners.) So the Jewish Senator from California is not like Hitler.
See how easy?
And Stephen Moore - Check back here for our next installment: "How To Tell If Something Is Rape."