My last word on Belafonte
That was until a commenter named Nathan said this, presumably to defend Belafonte's remarks:
Hitler did make use of some Jews in his government...He referenced a post of his and then went on to point out a comment about Erhard Milch, a high ranking official in the Luftwaffe was supposedly half-Jewish because his father, Anton Milch, was rumored to be Jewish. Never mind that it's not entirely clear that Anton Milch was Jewish. In 1935, while Milch was still State Secretary of the Reich Aviation Ministry, his mother signed an affadavit claiming stating that Milch's biological father was in fact her uncle, Karl Braüer, allowing him to be issued a German Blood Certificate and prompting his boss Hermann Goering's famous quote, "I will decide who is and is not a Jew." Milch later became a Field Marshal after the fall of France.
Nathan then went on to attack a straw man, defending Belafonte thusly:
But if the comparison is metaphorically harsh, it's hardly inaccurate to refer to Jewish functionaries of the Third Reich.
The only inaccuracy in Belfonte's statement is "high up" in the hierarchy.
Unfortunately, it is quite true that quite a few Jews agreed to act as agents for the Third Reich in administering the Jewish ghettoes and executing Hitler's administrative orders among the Jews. Some may have thought they were doing fellow Jews a favor, by having it humanely done by fellow religionists rather than by the Gestapo directly, but there is no question that Jews were functionaries in the hierarchy of the Third Reich.
A Field Marshal who probably was half-Jewish (but may not have been and in any case did not view himself as Jewish) and Jewish collaborators are the best examples he can come up with to defend Belafonte's hyperbole, after being forced to admit that Belafonte was wrong about Jews being "high up in the hierarchy"? Rather thin gruel for a defense. Nathan's argument is a massive nonsequitur that nothing to do with what Belafonte actually said. Belafonte wasn't talking about "functionaries." He was talking about "Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich." There's a big difference. Forgive me if I interpret "high up in the hierarchy" to mean, oh, "high up in the hierarchy," you know, the guys who actually ran things and conceived the Holocaust. Jewish collaborators were low-level agents who had no real power in the Third Reich other than over their own subjugated people. They only followed orders and got their people to follow Nazi orders as well, whether out of fear, greed, a desire to "soften the blow" on their people, or a desire to save their own skins, motivations of collaborationists with conquerers since time immemorial.
The point is not even that it shows that there were evil Jews, but that many people of a particular group collaborate with the enemy of that people for a host of mundane, careerist and other reasons. And they aren't sanctified by being part of the overall group that's being victimized.
Which I think was Belefonte's point. If you are going to justify Bush's policies towards black people, pointing to a few black faces in the administration doesn't prove anything.
Any way you cut it, Belafonte joins the ranks of those guilty of rhetorical excess deserving of a fisking, courtesy of the Hitler zombie, ranks including James Dobson, Michael Ruse, and Charlie Rangel, among others. The Hitler zombie does not discriminate on the basis of race or political leanings, given that conservatives and liberals both like to use bad Hitler/Nazi analogies. Now, I'll conclude with the Arthur Caplan brilliantly summing up the problems with argumentum ad Nazium a couple of weeks ago, and his comments, although aimed at rhetorical excesses used in bioethics, also apply here:
Sadly, too often those who draw an analogy between current behavior and what the Nazis did do not know what they are talking about. The Nazi analogy is equivalent to dropping a nuclear bomb in ethical battles about science and medicine. Because its misuse diminishes the horror done by Nazi scientists and doctors to their victims, it is ethically incumbent upon those who invoke the Nazi analogy to understand what they are claiming.