Sunday, June 26, 2005

Did a Conservative nominee call Layton a Nazi?

For those who missed it, the Conservative nominee in Edmonton-Centre (which is currently represented by Anne McLellan), Laurie Hawn has a blog in which he shares his thoughts on life and politics. Most of what he says is the sort of stuff that one would expect. His party's positions are advanced, those of the other parties criticized. That is only to be expected, and I think this new phenomenon of creating direct access to politicians is a good thing.

In a recent entry, A Conflict of Hypocrisies, Mr. Hawn accuses Jack Layton of hypocrisy:
Okay everyone, hands up all who think that the Duty National Socialist Leader, Jack Layton, would put himself at the back of the queue if he (or his wife) needed an MRI. I didn't think so.
This is, of course, a cheap shot. I have no idea what I would do in such circumstances, much less Mr. Layton. But politics is full of cheap shots. One might fire back that it is hypocritical to condemn others for doing something that you yourself advocate. But once we start that style of argument, we'd pretty quickly all be convicted of hypocrisy on some score.

So, what is the problem with this post? Hawn calls Jack Layton "the Duty National Socialist Leader". The National Socialists, in case you missed high school history and never watched the History Channel, were Hitler's party, and National Socialism his philosophy. The shortened form of 'National Socialist' is Nazi.

Admittedly, we have to put up with a lot of name calling in Canadian politics. We have recently heard a cabinet minister likened the conservative party to the Klu Klux Klan (he apologized); we've also heard the Liberal party likened to fictional serial killer, Hannibal Lector. But calling someone a Nazi--for failing some strange hypothetical hypocrisy test--is a new low.

Update. Mr. Hawn responds:
For the benefit of those who get their exercise jumping to conclusions and making leaps of logic, please allow me to clarify something from my blog "A Conflict of Hypocrisies". I refered to Jack Layton as the Duty National Socialist Leader. For those who like to "exercise", that meant that I was calling Jack Layton a Nazi, and that I was disrespecting all those who died at Hitler's hands.

Please settle down and park your misplaced indignation. "National" refers to Canada and "Socialist" refers to a political philosophy. Period. Dot. Stop. In no way did I intend those words to mean anything else. I'm sorry if capital letters confused some people. I have de-capitalized the description of Jack and changed the word "Duty" to "Canada's" to help them out.

For those who lectured me on history and defending democracy, back off. I spent more than thirty years and buried more than forty friends defending your right to yell at me. I hope that you enjoyed it, even though you are way off base. Now get back to work or go to the gym for some real exercise.

Update2 Here is my exchange with Mr. Hawn in his comments. As far as I'm concerned, this ends the matter.
buckets said...
Mr. Hawn, thank-you for your clarification. It seems to me, however, that you should be more careful with your choice of words in the future. How, really, could you have expect people to interpret your words in any other way? National Socialism is a historical phenomenon; it only means one thing. The NDP/CCF have been called socialists since the thirties; they've been a national party the whole time. But in my recollection no one has ever called them National Socialists. Why? Because those words, when put together, mean more than the sum of the parts.

Laurie Hawn said...
Point taken, buckets. Thanks.

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