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Remember when Dissent used to be Patriotic?

Imagine, protesters comparing a president to Hitler and making death threats. But that was okay, because Bush was in the White House then.
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Any public protest of more than a couple dozen people is bound to have some crackpots who will carry signs with angry threats on them - threats that the sign-carrier may or may not be planning to follow through on. Obviously, such threats should be investigated and the person behind them ordered to cease and desist, and possibly monitored, as necessary - just as it should happen if someone publicly threatened to kill Joe Six-pack. The Hitler comparisons then were wrong, as are those now. The threats then were wrong, as are those now.

While such Hitler comparisons (but NOT the threats) are, and should be, protected speech, I wouldn't really categorize it as "dissent." Dissent ought to be detailed, fact-based, rational, and explanatory, not merely accusatory (thus "Keep the government's hands out of my Medicare" and the like don't really qualify as dissent - it's just nonsense).

I don't know about arrests during the Bush years (Bush & Co. weren't fans of due process, so perhaps detainees were held and tried in an off-the-books manner?), but something tells me that if the Secret Service and the White House advance office (under Bush) were expelling and arresting people for non-threatening t-shirts and bumper stickers, and maintaining an explicit policy just to keep peaceful protesters far (not just beyond shooting range) from Bush events, I would think that the Secret Service would also detain, arrest if warranted, and investigate any credible threat against former Pres. Bush. It wouldn't really make sense for the Secret Service (presumably a very non-partisan agency, but perhaps FoxNews has a conspiracy theory about that?) to consume time and resources on pre-emptively (hmmm...sounds familiar) busting and moving peaceful protesters and potential protesters at events and just shrugging off people with threatening anti-Bush signs.

It's amusing how the author of the zombietime report (your 2nd link) continually hedges his bets in case someone takes the time and energy to out-Google him (or, gasp, go beyond the internet):

"none of those Bush-threateners at protests was ever arrested, questioned, or investigated (at least as far as I could tell)."

"The key question is: Were any protesters ever arrested or questioned for displaying threatening messages about President Bush at a protest? And the answer is: No, not as far as I could tell."

But this guy's got his "liberal media bias!" axe to grind (yaaaaawn), so I wouldn't really expect him to go above and beyond what he can "tell" from his extensive searches of Freeper, Powerline, and Malkin forums.

It's not as though the Secret Service during the Bush years didn't keep America's high school students in line. I can think of no reason why they'd let serious assassination plotters go unquestioned or unhindered. Perhaps the Secret Service keeps some of its activities... secret?

It's not as though the Secret Service during the Bush years didn't keep America's high school students in line. I can think of no reason why they'd let serious assassination plotters go unquestioned or unhindered. Perhaps the Secret Service keeps some of its activities... secret?

This is a moronic post. There are two options her: (1) comparing Presidents to Hitler, etc., is, in the overwhelming majority cases wrong, isn't a form of dissent that equals patriotism etc. or (2) it might be well be fine - we'd have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

In the event of option (2) there is obviously nothing necessarily hypocritical about the liberal stance; it would all depend on the plausibility of the anti-Bush case versus the anti-Obama case. Bot since you don't make an argument for why it was plausible on instance and not the other, you evidently aren't taking option (2). So that leaves option (1). But in that case you're obviously just as bad, or worse, than the people you're criticizing: there's nothing more juvenile and moronic than saying "however bad I am, the guys I don't like did just the same thing"; that only means that by the same token any decent person must judge you both as repulsive.

Finally, I would add that the two cases aren't quite comparable in a crucial sense: basically, leading Democrats and Democratic politicians don't adopt the sort of rhetoric you're referring to. The only possible exception I can think of is in reference to Bush's torture program, which was indeed not just comparable to Nazis, Khmer Rouge or Mao, but on many points exactly the same, and even copied directly out of totalitarian handbooks. On the other hand, the Obama-as-Nazi sort of business is common among the country's most powerful Republicans, such as Rush Limbaugh, whom no Republican is ever able to criticize, for instance.

Regardless, the most important point is this: all your post boils down to is trying to defend right-wing behavior and rhetoric by saying "I know you are but what am I" - which does in fact express the intellectual-age level of most Republicans quite well, which is why there are only about 20% of Americans who identify with your party.

Here is a nice demonstration of Hitler being used by the Right. I'm not sure how one associates Obama's health care plan with Hitler, but hey - I also don't understand how people take Limbaugh seriously.

[Apologies for the previous double-post; I don't know how it happened]

Coming off of some of the posts subsequent to mine, I'd add that the situation where protesters are carrying loaded firearms is, clearly, a ratcheting-up of the menace factor. Were liberals always bringing loaded AR-15s to Bush events, but the liberal media was covering for them back then, too (so, where was FoxNews, the outlet that had no qualms with engaging in on-the-spot mocking of peaceful protesters back in '03? You'd think they would've loved to highlight a protester with a death threat against Pres. Bush)?

Carrying a loaded gun to a presidential event, and holding a sign that directly references bloodshed ("It is time to water the Tree of Liberty" - from the Jefferson quote "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." that has become a right-wing militia staple, and was also on the shirt worn by home-grown right-wing terrorist Timoth McVeigh at the time he was arrested for the OKC bombing.) is a definite ratcheting-up of the threat factor.

But Jefferson's quote surely deserves consideration. The question is, how do we know when we have a tyrant in the White House? I wouldn't describe either Bush or Obama as tyrants, but if we were to put them on a spectrum from safe-to-dangerous for democracy, I think Bush would surely be closer to the dangerous end of things. (Just one tiny example, for starters, no time to make an exhaustive list here - Consider the recent admission by Ridge that there was a push to increase the terror threat-level on the eve of the '04 election) Surely not as bad as Hitler, and surely not a tyrant, but that still leaves plenty of room for being abysmal, horrible, and possibly quite dangerous. But the right, having nothing more than birth-certificate conspiracies and bogus claims of "death panels" and Obama's allegiance to Islam and that he's a socialist/communist/fascist by trying to reform health care, or with financial incentives to trade in our old cars (Here come the jack-booted bureaucrats!) they insist that Obama is, apparently, more dangerous than Bush ever was (assuming they even concede that Bush was a danger at all). Watch former Ashbrook honored guest-speaker Glenn Beck practically any night of the week to see him incite fear and terror in his viewers that Obama is taking America down the road to utter ruin.

But yes, dissent is and was patriotic. But bringing loaded guns to presidential events and making known references to violence, in wildly inappropriate contexts (Obama's not a tyrant, and isn't even being a particularly aggressive prez, esp. compared to the prior one), that is not dissent. It's just craziness, albeit craziness tacitly supported by the party currently out of power.

Any public protest of more than a couple dozen people is bound to have some crackpots who will carry signs with angry threats on them

The usual dishonest bullshit from the patheic Scanlon. Bush=Hitler was the standard argment made everywhere on the net for several years. You could find it on Kos, on TPM, in the pages of the MSM. We're not talking about a few lone crackpots here. The entire Democratic party went insane.

bringing loaded guns to presidential events ... is not dissent. It's just craziness

Exercising your constitutional rights is now "craziness". You really are a totalitarian thug.

You are also a rather stupid totalitarian thug, as nobody brought a loaded gun to a presidential event. But keep working on your Big Lie.

I don't know about arrests during the Bush years (Bush & Co. weren't fans of due process, so perhaps detainees were held and tried in an off-the-books manner?)

I don't know about arrests under Obama. The Dems contempt for the law is well known, so perhaps detainees are held and tried in an off-the-books manner. Hey, prove me wrong.

Exercising your constitutional rights is now "craziness". You really are a totalitarian thug.



Give it a rest, John. Bringing a gun to a Presidential event is stupid, even if done under the guise of exercising a constitutional right (sort of like your use of free speech).



Bush=Hitler was the standard argment made everywhere on the net for several years.



I don't know if that statement was just made in line with your willful ignorance or your habit of being melodramatic, but it completely blows Hitler/Bush comparisons out of proportion. That was the "standard argument"? Really?

Zeke, you are right, Democratic politicians don't imply that their critics are Nazis or call them evil-mongers. That would be wrong.

During the time of all the protests against taking down the murderous dictator Saddam Hussein, I happened to be near the city of losers San Francisco. Many of the signs at the protest included Bush is Hitler, etc. However the funniest most typical liberal protestor moment was when I saw a old, old school bus with nine old hippies on it heading on 580 to San Francisco. The bus had many signs on it including "The Peace Bus" and of course "Bush is Hitler". One of the signs said "No War for Oil". Of course it never occurred to the drugged out, washed up 60's love children on the bus that it only had nine people on it and it was probably getting about 4 miles to the gallon. Typical liberal. They would be more believeable if they were riding bikes to the "No War for Oil" protest and not a bus with nine people aboard getting 4 miles to the gallon.

Here is just the latest example of actual Repubs in power (not just some dude with a sign... and no gun) making absurd claims about Obama and turning the whole terrorism-patriotism axis on its head, as well:

"'Our democracy has never been threatened as much as it is today,' Herger said to a loud standing ovation."

Here's the real kicker, though, complete with some "real American" bona fides - this person was REALLY "born American"!:

"One speaker said he could trace his ancestors back to the Mayflower and said 'they did not arrive holding their hands out for help.'
'I am a proud right wing terrorist,' he declared to cheers. Herger praised the man’s attitude. 'Amen, God bless you,' Herger said with a broad smile. 'There is a great American.'"

"The majority of citizens came to the microphone to denounce the health care plan as 'socialist'"

Here's betting that the majority of those people at the microphone also developed their broad, deep knowledge of socialism by listening to someone else barking into a microphone? Quite likely, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity - or FoxNews in general...

"Although opposed to the Obama plan, several speakers said that family members had been forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills 'and that was with insurance.'


'There are many things we can do,' Herger responded without going into specifics."

"Speakers brought up subjects far afield of heath care that included illegal immigration and the carbon cap and trade bill recently passed by Congress. Herger called the cap and trade law 'environmental extremism.'
'Health care is not the only threat to our democracy,' Herger said."

So, there you have it, health care is now a "threat to democracy!" Enough said, Mr. Herger.

If Herger ever loses his seat, he could always be an NLT blogger.

There's a difference between protecting our American freedom and supporting Arab terrorism. I wouldn't expect Craig to understand that though.

And of course Democrats never said that Bush's policies were a "threat to democracy." Oh, wait. Well, surely that's an exception. So is this. And this. And maybe this.

Let me be clear: I don't like it when people compare American politicians to Hitler. Unless a president actually invades Canada or Mexico in search of Lebensraum, or starts exterminating racial or ethnic minorities, such comparisons are a lot of hot air. But I'm enough of a realist to know that ever since the 1930s Democrats and Republicans alike have demonized their opponents as Nazis, and they're not going to stop now. What I'm objecting to is all this outrage we're hearing from Democrats today, as if all this was something shockingly new.

I have no problem with the fake outrage from Democratic party hacks, internet trolls, and MSNBC news personalities. The double standards are what you would expect from them (and from their counterparts on the Republican right). What did grate was watching David Gregory open Meet The Press last week with a montage of protestors comparing the President to Nazis as if this is something new in our country's protest politics rather than a common trope for the last six or seven years. Not a healthy one, but the sudden solicitude for the dignity and good name of the presidential personage exposes much of the hypocrisy of the people who ignored slanders in the past and voice convenient outrage in the present.

Whoa, whoa, hold on there a minute, John Moser. You jumped right from the "well, so do Dems" line about use of the "threat to democracy" descriptor back to the Hitler accusations. Like I said, they're just not the same thing.

Well, I don't like the fast-and-loose Hitler comparisons either, so there's really no point in expounding further on that one (although there are plenty of fascistic symptoms to be watchful for that fall short of Lebensraum invasions and concentration camps, but that's another thing). I do like how you kept your options open by specifying that you don't like it when American politicians are compared to Hitler. I'll be more broad; I don't like it when any politician is compared to Hitler when the comparison is not apt.

But again, accuracy is the rub here. Did you actually read (skim?) the articles you linked to, or did they just come up in your search? Because there are valid, fact-based points in all of them. Even Hedges's piece, which I'm somewhat uncomfortable with because of his use of the "Christian fascism" tag, makes some solid points (The warning from Dr. Adams seems far from shrill or half-baked; his tale of the night-train journey is also compelling). Note that Hedges doesn't compare Bush to Hitler but relegates him merely to "no more than a weak transition figure."

The other three are also fact-based, pretty rational, and can't just be dismissed as invalid because they're from Dems.

I don't think it's so out there to say "An accurately informed public is the essence of our democracy. It is most essential on the ultimate question of peace or war." And the revelations of the Downing Street Memo are serious, not just trivia. The boys at Powerline will scoff, but that's not a benchmark we really want to set, is it?

The Salon/Lempinen piece (from 9/2003) is an odd choice to make your point with. Yes, he says that "It is essential to hold Bush and his allies accountable for their attacks on U.S. democracy," but he also spends considerable time on how leftists and liberals need to chill out and not badger Bush & Co. into a premature withdrawal from Iraq (fat chance of that, those millions in the street were just "focus groups" anyway - but for fun, let's compare numbers, the recent tea parties to then, shall we?), he says that all of the pre-invasion arguments against the war are now - poof! - "moot", and he also celebrates how "The torture chambers are closed." Whoops.

Woodward knows DC, got to understand the Bush administration, he's surely got a pretty good handle on the facts, be they complimentary or damning.

But, let's see the gray here. Saying something or someone presents a threat to democracy (of debatable magnitude) is not the same thing as saying someone is like Hitler. One can try to make a case that any prez is compromising democracy, but be honest, the cases for Bush doing so were/are much stronger than those against Obama. The "conservative" cases against Obama vary between silly and shrill. (The critiques from the left are far better)

Consider the recent admission by Ridge that there was a push to increase the terror threat-level on the eve of the '04 election)

Big deal. In 1942 FDR put pressure on the military to launch the invasion of North Africa right before Election Day. And those were only midterm elections.

Craig, you're the one who brought "threat to democracy" into it when you cited Herger. So I Googled "Bush" and "threat to democracy." I offered specific examples of liberal commentators arguing that Bush's policies were a "threat to democracy."


The "conservative" cases against Obama vary between silly and shrill. (The critiques from the left are far better)

Which is exactly what I'd expect you to believe. What I don't understand is why you think we'd agree with you.

"Craig, you're the one who brought 'threat to democracy' into it when you cited Herger. So I Googled "Bush" and "threat to democracy." I offered specific examples of liberal commentators arguing that Bush's policies were a 'threat to democracy.'"

Yes, I brought "threat to democracy" into it to show that there's a substantive difference between making a case for that and just screaming "Hitler!" and drawing a moustache on whoever's face. Conservatives, in decrying Obama, are largely resorting to fact-free arguments and a whole lot of the Hitler-screaming.

"Which is exactly what I'd expect you to believe. What I don't understand is why you think we'd agree with you."

Oh - ssssnap! Well, to the extent that the right seems to be mired in a real fact-free zone at the moment, I don't expect agreement.

I don't know if that statement was just made in line with your willful ignorance or your habit of being melodramatic, but it completely blows Hitler/Bush comparisons out of proportion. That was the "standard argument"? Really?

Yes, Matty, really. Bush = Hitler was the standard argument, one you can see some people on the left even today having trouble distancng themselves from. See e.g. the pathetic Scanlon on this very thread.

Bringing a gun to a Presidential event is stupid


The only people "bringing a gun to a Presidential event" are the Secret Service, you simpering simpleton.

Yes, Matty, really. Bush = Hitler was the standard argument, one you can see some people on the left even today having trouble distancng themselves from. See e.g. Scanlon (who shows exemplary restraint in dealing with my nonsense, btw) on this very thread.

I don't know why I bother, but...

My comment #3: "The Hitler comparisons then were wrong, as are those now."

My comment #8: "(Bush's acts) Surely not as bad as Hitler, and surely not a tyrant, but that still leaves plenty of room for being abysmal, horrible, and possibly quite dangerous."

My comment #19: "I don't like the fast-and-loose Hitler comparisons either..."

Some people could stand to brush up on their reading comprehension.

Now we wouldn't want to dismiss these, just because they are conservative links.

Not all of the readers of Reason would describe themselves as conservatives, surely, and hopefully not conservative Republicans. There's a lot of Randian bluster in that piece, but it does describe Republicans as "intellectually bereft."

The Heritage claims are more garbage than anything else, many of them addressed handily here.

It is interesting that so few of these hypocracy claims come witht he words I was wrong then or they are right now.

OK, well I'm sorry. You're not going to have a readership of Huffington Post that is entirely liberal - point taken. The Heritage stuff is real right-wing, but they aren't making anything up. I'll check out your link, though.

I've got to sign off from this thread with this gem (fans of Lucianne Goldberg's son be warned - you probably won't understand this).

While such Hitler comparisons (but NOT the threats) are, and should be, protected speech, I wouldn't really categorize it as "dissent." Dissent ought to be detailed, fact-based, rational, and explanatory, not merely accusatory (thus "Keep the government's hands out of my Medicare" and the like don't really qualify as dissent - it's just nonsense).

We are aware that there is plenty of, as you define it, dissent out there, then: here, here, and here.

Now we wouldn't want to dismiss these, just because they are conservative links. They are pretty fact based and rational. I am getting just a little bit tired of everyone acting like the town-hallers represent the right generally.

Ok, I lied. One final (no, really) thing from me.

Here are the numerical results from a Google search I conducted this morning:

Search for "Bush Hitler" produced 7,300,000 results.

Search for "Obama Hitler" produced 10,800,000 results (and keep in mind, he's only 8 months into his presidency). That's 3.5 million more results.

It should also be kept in mind that some of those Bush-Hitler results stem from the Prescott Bush (Dubya's grandfather) issue.

I wonder if those search hits aren't skewed by the media's recent discovery that some people accuse presidents of being like Hitler?

(oh yeah...it's that liberally-biased media forcing people to make blogs and photoshopped pic sites and youtube vids comparing whoever to Hitler. My toast fell on the floor - butter-side down - this morning; damn that liberal media!)

Scanlon: You misinterpret what I say; of course there are liberal motors that drive the Hitler mania, but if you think FoxNews isn't just as interested in this phenomena as well, you're mistaken. Contrary to popular belief, there is a conservative organ that is starting to pipe up as well -- but both did so less in the Bush years. I don't think that's liberal bias so much as the way 'politics' has been playing out.

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