Pride and the “Reductio ad Hitlerum” Argument

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Today’s blog post is a follow up from the most recent episode of Last Week with Matthew Handley. Click to here to lisen.

Yesterday on Last Week, I discussed the story of a straight pride parade that took place in Modesto, California a week ago.  During this parade, which was more of a protest than a parade, gay pride protestors arrived to show their disgust and dismay at those participating in the straight pride parade.  Fortunately, the protests remained peaceful and no one was injured or arrested, but it is worth noting that this is a trend we are starting to see in other areas of the country.  The organizer of the straight pride parade, Don Grundmann, said he hopes that chapters of the organization, the National Straight Pride Coalition, open across the country.

The mission of the National Straight Pride Coalition, according to their website, is to prevent “the current and future generations of all races and colors from being destroyed by the inherent malevolence of the Homosexual Movement.”  The LGBT community protestors were not affiliated with an organization, according to news reports.

There are a few points I would like to discuss here.  First, I would like to pick apart a terrible argument (but since it is not really an argument, we could call it a strategy) that is constantly made by the left.  Whenever someone disagrees with a leftist, the leftist combats with a fallacious “tu quoque” argument an “ad hominem” attack, or the new incredibly fallacious strategy which I am calling “reductio ad Hitlerum.” And second, I’ll talk about what these have to do with this straight pride parade and include some thoughts on pride in general.

First, I’ll discuss the fallacy of “tu quoque.”  The phrase “tu quoque” is from Latin and it means “and you too” or “you also.”  A textbook example of this is “It ok that Republicans gerrymander states, Democrats do it too” or, for a more recent example, “Joshua Harris, who wrote books on love is getting divorced.  Therefore, it is acceptable to get divorced.”  As you can see, this argument does not hold up because what one man does, does not determine the morality of everyone. 

Usually this type of fallacy will come up when an argument has gotten very heated and emotions are high.  As you can expect, this is typical for most leftists (at least those who protest) because the truth is what we feel and you cannot tell someone else otherwise, and if you do, you’re a white supremacist.

This brings me to my next fallacy, the “ad hominem.”  This is frequently thrown around by people on both the right and the left.  In an “ad hominem” fallacy, one person attacks the character of another person rather than the argument.  An example would be this: Socialist Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said on Twitter last Friday (in part), “1. I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 0 are my constituents.”  Fox News host Laura Ingram responded, ““Fewer” than 20 accounts….”  To which Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responded “See? You’re a neo-Nazi fan favorite and I don’t block you for defending white supremacist viewpoints and mocking gun violence survivors.” 

There are a few problems with this interaction.  First, Ingram wasn’t even arguing with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez; she was simply repeating something that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez already said.  But even still, that invoked a comparison to Nazis.  Now, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez could make an argument about the second accusations flung at Ingram, but she has yet to post these on Twitter.  You may have noticed the habit among the left to fling the “Nazi” or “Hitler” accusation at some people and this brings me to my third point.

There is a (sorta) new trend among the left to reduce opponents to Hitler.  Hitler, agreeably, is one of the most evil and hated men in human history, so to compare your opponent to Hitler is espeically demeaning. I have called this fallacy “reductio ad Hitlerum” or the “Hitler had a dog” argument.  In this fallacy, one person claims that because someone who did something evil previously also did something else, and you do the same second thing, you are therefore just like the first person.  That’s a little too wordy.  Here’s an example: Hitler had a dog.  You have a dog.  You are therefore the same as Hitler.  Ben Shaprio said it best on his radio show (defending himself from this fallacy!) on Friday.  Two op-eds in the Washington Post were written about him and the “respectable right,” one of which claimed that because Shapiro appeals to logic and facts, and because former slave holders in the antebellum south also appealed to logic and facts, it is there for wrong to appeal to logic and facts and Shapiro is the same as a former slaver holder. Another example is the now tired comparison between President Trump and Hitler. People lob this accusation at President Trump all the time. “You know who else said things sort of similar to this? Hitler,” implying that President Trump is the new Hitler.    This “reductio ad Hitlerum” argument is both a false equation and an “ad hominem.”  It equates two things that aren’t related and then also attacks the character of the other person. 

So why did I mention the straight pride protest in Modesto, California?  I mentioned it because articles were written about with headlines such as, “White supremacists are planning another ‘Straight Pride Parade’ in California” (from LGBTQNation).  The white supremacist accusation comes from a report about the organization “Super Happy Fun America” (yes that’s actually their name) hosting a straight pride parade in Boston, Massachusetts, with former Breitbart contributor Milo Yiannopoulos acting as the grand marshall.  Some have accused Yiannopoulos of white supremacist views because of statements he made in the past. 

Super Happy Fun America and the National Straight Pride Coalition are not affiliated with each other.  They have never worked with each other.  However, one hosted a parade and another a protest in favor of the same thing.  According to LGBTQNation, because the National Straight Pride Coalition is in favor of the same things as Super Happy Fun America, and Super Happy Fun America was affiliated with someone who is accused of white supremacist views, the National Straight Pride Coalition must also be white supremacist. 

As you can see, this doesn’t make any sense when you use logic. 

Now, I would like to point out that, while I agree that there is a biased against Christians and a movement (I would go as far as to say an agenda) to suppress heterosexual culture and Christian morality, I do not condone the use of the word “pride” in the message of describing heterosexuality. 

Every group now is “proud” of whatever they’re advocating for.  You have gay pride, straight pride, shout your abortion, everything under the sun people are proud for.  But is it Christian to be proud?  St. Thomas Aquinas argues against that when he says, “it is evident that man’s first sin was pride” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, Question 63, Article 1) when discussing the fall of man in Genesis.  Even took the fruit because she wanted to make her own decisions and “be as Gods” (Genesis 3:5). 

In addition to this, it says in the Letter of St. James, “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (James 4:6).  Proverbs 11:2 says, “Where pride is, there also shall be reproach: but where humility is, there also is wisdom.”  Jesus Christ, God himself, humbled himself to take on our human form (Philippians 2:7-8). The list from Scripture goes on and on.  We are called to be humble.  It is ok and right to be impressed with our accomplishments, but we must remember to order ourselves to the greater glory of God. 

While I am grateful I don’t have to struggle with homosexual tendencies, I wouldn’t say I’m proud to be straight.  Rather, I would say I am glad I can better order myself to God’s plan with the blessings he gave me. 

We must be able to defend our beliefs and values, just in a way that can change hearts and minds. (Here’s a hint: shouting in peoples faces that “they’re not welcome here” doesn’t do that) But at the same time, we must also be able to combat against fallacious and absurd arguments and accusations that will inevitably be thrown in our direction. Be bold, stand up to them!

Don’t worry I’ll still advocate for Christian morality, sexual ethics, and culture, but we don’t need to be screaming about how proud we are.  We’re called to be humble.

Be bold.  Be Catholic.

Matthew

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