Calling A Spade
by Rev. Dustin Bartlett
Let’s all be clear about this – labeling a person whom you dislike or disagree with a “Nazi” is one of the most intellectually lazy things you can do. If you ever took a class in debate, you would know that there is a name for this logical fallacy – the Argumentum Ad Hominem. It refers to when a debater attacks the character of his opponent rather than the substance of his opponent’s argument. In our society, where Nazis and Hitler are largely regarded as the epitome of human wickedness, it’s become common place to answer those we disagree with by saying, “That’s exactly what Hitler what say!” or “That’s the kind of thing Hitler would do!” It’s so common place that there some have called this practice the Argumentum Ad Hitlerum.
And, as I said, this is intellectually lazy. If someone’s argument is wrong, you attack their argument and not their character. If someone’s opinion is based on a fallacy, then show them how it’s based on fallacy without making it personal. The rules of a debate were well understood by the ancient Greeks thousands of years ago; this isn’t anything new.
So we’re all crystal clear now, right? Thou shalt not call someone a Nazi just because you don’t like their political views.
That being said, when a person wears a swastika, or carries a flag with a swastika emblazoned on its center, or gives a Nazi-style Sieg Heil salute, or when they march in a crowd surrounded by others who are doing those things, then you can safely call that person a Nazi. As the old saying goes, “If it looks like a Nazi and it quacks like a Nazi, then it’s probably a Nazi.”
On August 12th, an neo-Nazi rally took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. There have been some members of the media, including an editorial writer with our local newspaper, who have tried to make the Charlottesville incident about whether or not there should be Confederate monuments in public places. While that was certainly the pretext of the alt-right demonstration, the outcry around Charlottesville and the need to strongly condemn one side – not both – for the disturbance has nothing to do with Civil War monuments.
In Charlottesville, marchers openly displayed not only Confederate flags, but flags bearing swastikas and the flag of the National Socialist Movement. Some wore KKK robes or symbols. They gave Nazi-style salutes. The chanted things like “Blood and Soil,” (an old Nazi rallying cry), “Jews will not replace us,” and “White Power!” The leaders of the rally, like its organizer, Jason Kessler, and guests David Duke (yes, that David Duke) and Richard Spencer have openly and publicly stated they believe the United States of America should be a whites-only nation.
One of these neo-Nazis drove his car into a crowd of counter protestors (an act that’s been clearly labeled as terrorism whenever an Islamic jihadist has done it), killing one woman.
We need to be clear about this. These people who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, many of whom were armed with guns, were literally Nazis. Not, “I don’t like your opinions on Confederate monuments so I’m going to call you a Nazi,” but actual, self-identifying white supremacist neo-Nazis.
The ideology of white supremacy and white nationalism is dangerous. It must be clearly and publicly condemned or else it will fester and spread. We have to call a spade a spade.
So let me, in my capacity as a Christian pastor and ordained minister of the church say this clearly and unequivocally: Racism is sin. White supremacy is sin. Terrorizing people is sin. It must be repented of and turned away from by both the individuals who hold these views and by our nation which has been slow to do so.
Christians need to stand up against all forms racism, discrimination, and hatred. Let this be our rallying cry:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.