Reductio ad Hitlerum: Townhall Edition


Writing at, Kevin McCullough, in a piece inventively titled "Obama as Hitler," argues that the president is exterminating babies like Der Fuehrer and that his opposition to a recent Bush administration decision allowing doctors to refuse to participate in abortions is the "equivalent of forcing those who believed slavery to be immoral and never even owned slaves, to begin purchasing them, beating them, raping them, and exploiting them." President Obama, the Nazi slave rapist!

According to the Washington Post, the "debate centers on a Bush administration regulation, enacted in December, that cuts off federal funding for thousands of state and local governments, hospitals, health plans, clinics and other entities if they do not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other employees who refuse to participate in care they feel violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs." Enacted in December? So does that mean that, for seven-plus years, Bush too was acting Hitlerian?

More reasoned argument from McCullough:

This week President Obama exercised for the first time a policy decision that shares a trait held in common with Adolf Hitler…In the 1930's and 40's as Hitler wished to use his captive "lesser-humans" for "experiments" in his final solution. He too forced doctors to do things they did not wish to do. Everything from injecting living humans with horrible chemicals to see the effect, to trying differing grades of poisonous gases in what eventually became death chambers…In today's scenario Obama wants doctors to exterminate "lesser humans" for the purpose of immediate solutions to his social experiment.

It's not worth engaging such nonsense, but it is perhaps necessary to correct McCullough's presumption that doctors in Nazi Germany were forced to euthanize people, perform abortions, and/or experiment on prisoners. McCullough is unconsciously aping the Nuremberg defense here: If I didn't follow orders, I would have risked being tossing into a concentration camp myself. In the context of the German military, this myth has been conclusively debunked by scholars like Christopher Browning. As it relates to the medical profession, there are a number of instances when doctors refused to participate in immoral experiments during the Third Reich, as cataloged by Robert Lifton in his book Nazi Doctors, and were not punished as a result.

Previous "Reductio ad Hitlerum" nominees here and here