Alaska Notebook: Perspective, please

December 4, 2013 

Perspective

Maybe people need the drama.

It's not enough to argue about the nuts and bolts of Obamacare; somebody has to claim that Obama is trying to "destroy the country," and that we are heading down some dark socialist road. East Germany, here we come.

It's not enough to criticize the deal with Iran; we have to compare it to the Munich compromise and how Hitler bluffed the leaders of Britain and France into a craven policy of compromise.

And there's always the temptation to compare opponents and their policies to Nazis.

Spare us.

Does anyone this side of the lunatic fringe seriously believe that President Barack Obama is trying to destroy the country? And if he were, just how would he do so with Obamacare? It's a health insurance law, for crying out loud. Controversial, messy, jury still out? Sure. Onerous to some, a blessing to others? Check. But toxic to the United States of America? Please.

As for Iran, to this citizen it looks like we gave more than we got, did a deal we didn't have to do. But we should be careful with comparisons to the 1930s.

A friend and colleague suggests it's a sign of "lazy thinking." It's also a sure sign that rant has outrun reason. The only letter I ever wrote to the White House condemned the decision of President Ford not to meet with exiled Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Some saw Henry Kissinger's hand in this -- not wanting to rile the Soviets and disrupt detente.

I wrote that such had the "stench of Munich." Rant over reason, not to mention sloppy historical comparison, and the memory makes me wince. I got a polite letter in reply, assuring me that President Ford was familiar with Solzhenitsyn's views.

I still think Ford should have had Solzhenitsyn to the White House, no matter what the Soviets thought about it. But if I were to write such a letter today, I'd drop the Munich. Overuse -- and ignorant use -- has drained the comparison of its power. That's too bad, because there is a real lesson against the appeasement of tyranny and evil there.

Those who make such comparisons need to know what they're talking about. Obamacare doesn't signal the end of the Republic, and the Iran deal doesn't signal the fall of Israel. In the case of the former, we'll work it out. In the case of the latter, we need to keep a very sharp watch.

-- Frank Gerjevic

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