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Flunking the Pipes Analogies Test

Reader comment on item: Harvard Loves Jihad

Submitted by Gil Reyes (United States), Jun 21, 2002 at 16:07

Let's face it: Most people can't discern a good analogy from a bad one. And yet we all use them whenever we try to draw historical parallels (e.g., Chamberlain appeasing Hitler). Now Dr. Pipes has used Nazism as an analog for Militant Islamism. Critical thinkers are able to test such a comparison fairly simply by examining the correspondence between one and the other. Are they both ideologies? (Yes). Are they both extreme belief systems derived from more traditional roots? (Yes). Do they both advocate violent solutions to social conflict? (Yes). Do they both scapegoat their antagonists for many of their problems and advocate annihilation as a solution? (Yes). Do they both attempt to woo mass support by persuading others of their justifications? (Yes). Do they both use what is now considered hate-speech, but then hide behind the smokescreens generated by their "moderate" apologists? (Yes).

I could go on for pages with parallel that support Dr. Pipes' analogy, but fair-minded critical thinkers have already gotten the point and people who are incapable of learning from history are looking for specious exceptions to preserve their vacuous denials. Of course not all Germans were Nazis or even anti-Semites (sorry Alex, yet another analogy). But in WWII we fought GERMANY, not the NAZIS! So often I have watched historical documentaries and flinched as they talked about the Nazi's doing this and that when it was the German Army, not the ruling political party (by analogy, it would be parallel to a Japanese documentary describing how the Democrats had bombed Hiroshima).

Similarly, militant Islamists are stirring up anti-Semitic hatred against the Jews (read their writings Alex, they talk about eradicating the Jews, not about conquering Israel). And so in this case it is fair to say that religion and politics are as one and militant Islamists are the equivalent of a political party. And just as there we had large factions in England, France, and America that defended the Nazi ideology (without joining the party) and characterized the Nazi's hate-speech as mere inflammatory rhetoric, so there were those in America and Europe who conspired to deny the truth of the extermination policies that were being conducted and branded those who attempted to reveal those atrocities as hysterical liars.

Perhaps Alex and others who fail to recognize how words and rhetoric have been used to deceive the gullible would benefit from reading Orwell on the subject (e.g., double-speak), but I doubt it. Or perhaps they could read Bandura's elegant explanation of moral disengagement and the use of "euphemistic labeling" to sanitize acts of immorality (e.g., collateral damage). But no, that too would like fail to illumonate their darkness. Santayana was right: "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it." and unfortunately they also doom many others (e.g., children) who are too innocent to know better and too helpless to escape the carnage.

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