Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Yet another group of absurd debaters

with 7 comments

(Remark: Apart from Creationism, religion has hardly ever been a topic on this blog, so I take the opportunity to stress that my opinion of religion and typical religious organisations is mostly negative. I am, however, also a believer in fair debate based on arguments, facts, and reasoning—not, even be it against things of religion, cheap rhetoric, misrepresentations, and insults.)

Following up on the tags of my latest post, I encountered a blog entry calling the Pope a “card carrying Nazi”e. Having repeatedly seen this faulty (and, probaly, libelous) claim made based on his membership in Hitler Jugend, I left a correction:

The Pope is by no means a card-carrying Nazi. To quote from Wikipedia:

> Following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth — as membership was required by law for all 14-year old German boys after December 1939[9] — but was an unenthusiastic member who refused to attend meetings.[10] His father was an enemy of Nazism, believing it conflicted with the Catholic faith.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Ratzingerw )

The reply was a confounding:

I think his anti-gay and anti-woman edicts state exactly what he is!

(I note, with an eye on later comments, that no reservation was added that “nazi” had been intended in a metaphorical sense. In addition, “card-carrying” does speak against a metaphorical use, and points to a formal membership or, in an extended sense, very strong support on an ideological level.)

I will leave the question whether the Pope is anti-gay and anti-woman aside (but I do make the reservation that it is not uncommon for PC groups to have extremely broad and unfair definitions of terms like these). However, as I continued,

[e]ven if someone makes anti-X edicts, that does not automatically make him a Nazi. Raising taxes does not make a US president a communist, for that matter.

The reply:

I’m sorry that you completely missed the entire point of the original post. Your defense of the Pope and segue of comparing raising taxes and communism and the US president are rather confusing.


  1. How a switch is made to ad hominem.

  2. How the sub-issue actually under discussion is dropped, with neither a concessation nor any arguments as to why the issue is not conceded.

  3. How an incorrect claim (in context: accusation) that I would be defending the Pope is made, although I have so far merely pointed to a factually incorrect statement (respectively, an extraordinary statement that would require extraordinary proof).

  4. How an analogy showing why the attribution of Nazism over anti-X claims is absurd is dismissed and (likely) deliberately misinterpreted as an attempt to “segue” to an irrelevant topic.

I stand by my answer:

It seems rather that you miss the point of my commment: There is no indication that Pope is now or has ever been a Nazi. If you dislike and want to criticize him or his action, use factual arguments—not unwarranted and irrelevant accusations. (In particular, accusations that many victims of WWII or the Holocaust could see as offensive for trivializing their experiences. Your complaint about a possible gay–nazi comparison [the topic of the original post] becomes very hypocritical in this light.)

The following reply from another commenter (webwordwarrior), I found both rude and highly misleading—and, as with several similar comments, far-going claims about the Pope were made without any kind of support:

Mr. Eriksson – the other commenters have been very patient with you. Why do you insist on playing these silly word games? The man may or may not have been a literal Nazi. (Given how many new revelations and records keep emerging from that regime, I think it’s safe to say we’ll never know.) Whatever the case, his actions since becoming a well-known Cardinal are so anti-human (child, woman, gay, Muslim, take your pick) that he’s at least Nazi-like. The metaphor may be strong, perhaps even incendiary, but his abuse of power to oppress deserves no better.

Again, I stand by my answer—except in as far as it is overly polite.

With all due respect, your claims that I would be playing word games when I rectify a repeated and unfounded accusation (I note that the “Hitler Jugend” connection has often been used to imply a very literal “the Pope is a Nazi”) and that the other commenters have been patient (after three brief and factual comments from me, all entirely justified) borders on the ridiculous.

As for what the Pope has or has not done since, I cannot speak with authority—I tend to leave religious issues to those who actually are religious. However, none of it is on par with starting a global war or the Holocaust; nor is there any justification in making an ideological association. (Further, AFAIK, most or all of it has been basically re-affirming the previous position of the Catholic Church.)

In the (at the time of writing) last comment, the highly offensive and tiresome white-hetero-men-are-privileged–everyone-else-is-a-victim claim rears its ugly head again:

Those of us being targeted by the Pope don’t have the luxury of not paying attention to him, as you seem to have. With all due respect, you speak as though you come from the privilege of being white, male, and heterosexual. If this is indeed correct, you are the power structure of the world.

There are so many things wrong with such statements that it boggles my mind that anyone can take them seriously—even apart from their common use (as above) as an unethical and misleading ad hominem. Consider e.g. the extreme over-generalisation and factual error that is contained in grouping all white (etc.) men into one homogeneous group and further painting this group as privileged—where most are not. (Indeed, a very strong case can be made that women form a more privileged group in many countries, including, definitely, Sweden and, likely, the US.) Alternatively, take the fact that the resulting minority is a fairly small one: After each special-interest group has had its say, we speak of non-Hispanic White, straight, Christian, Anglo-Saxon, middle-class, non-immigrant, whatnot, men. In the end, we have a small fraction of the population allegedly dominating the world.

By and large, this offensive claim is not one iota better than various racist, anti-gay, whatnot, sentiments—and, in this, it is one of the most widespread hypocrisies of our day.

Looking specifically at the quote above, an additional concern is what need “us” actually has to pay attention to the Pope: His influence on non-Catholic countries is limited, even other varieties of Christianity (let alone secular institutions) have very different ideas on many issues, and particular notice is only relevant when and where he changes the Church’s take on various issues. His opinions will have a very limited impact on the lifes of even a black homosexual woman in the US, Canada, and most of the rest of the world. The situation is possibly different in e.g. Mexico, but now we mostly talk countries where being a non-Hispanic White is no advantage. Even here in Cologne, one of Catolicism’s historically most important cities, it is common to see same-sex couples holding hands or even kissing in public—and hardly anyone even takes notice anymore.


Written by michaeleriksson

January 9, 2011 at 8:15 am

7 Responses

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  1. Mr. Eriksson,

    Imagine my surprise at finding myself quoted on your blog as a result of a spirited discussion that took place on another site. Please excuse my presumption, but I feel obligated to disagree with you once again.

    You express great concern about the over-reaching of political correctness in current-day debate. Having re-read the original post and the thread of comments in which you participated, I stand by my comments that day.

    The phrase “card-carrying” aside (a minor if nettlesome point), the use of the term Nazi to describe the Pope can certainly be read as metaphorical. It is truly unfortunate that Ratzinger’s biographical overlap with the HitlerJugend results in a confusing conflation of term which is abused by some writers. In this case, however, there are three important, mitigating points.

    First, the Nazi analogy was made by Ms. LeMay, who is the primary subject of the post in question. This framework sets up the metaphor.

    Next, the second paragraph of the post deconstructs Ms. LeMay’s analogy, further strengthening the sense of Nazi as metaphor.

    Third, in the comment thread, the writer of the post makes it clear that he refers to the Pope as a Nazi on the basis of his behavior. Liturgical or otherwise, Pope Benedict has expressed a clear desire to see homosexuality stamped out. Hitler did the same. The metaphor stands.

    At the end of your post, you make a statement that I think bring you into the realm of “absurd debater.” Your claim that being white, male, and heterosexual carries no privilege is shockingly blind. In the United States (where the original post was written), women and minorities make routinely smaller wages for similar work. Leadership positions are disproportianately held by white men. Based on my limited research, the same is true throughout the Western Hemisphere. (Hispanic is an ethnic distinction, not a racial one, so your Mexico analogy fails.)

    You also question the Pope’s influence on two fronts. First, that we can only be concerned with how he changes the position of the Church. I firmly disagree. He is the unquestioned leader of the Church and has the authority to undo the great wrongs done to the gay community. He chooses not to do so. Second, the Catholic church was a major financial contributor to Proposition 8 in California, a measure that destroyed marriage equality in that state. The influence of the church was keenly felt by millions of gay Americans in that regard.

    Please take greater care not to let an obsession with a single fact overcome your ability to interpret an entire post in context. Please be more aware of your privilege and the comfort you derive therefrom.

    Lex (webwordwarrior) Kahn


    January 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    • Why are you surprised? Analysis of faulty arguments and extremist positions is nothing unusual—and you should have received an automatic “pingback” notification as the post was published. Your complaints on the original thread about not having received a separate notification are far more surprising—as is the fact that you took more than two weeks to answer…

      As for your mitigating points:

      o The first may be partially valid, but need not be: We have a quote several instances removed and possibly out of context.

      Even so, there is no need to stoop to a lower level, nor is justified to pick an individual opinion from a Catholic and paint it as the Catholic Church’s opinion (or the Pope’s personal). If we look at all the “madcap” things various low-level Democrats and Republicans have said…

      o The second speaks against your own right to use the expression metaphorically: When did the Pope or the Church kill gays and Jews? If it has been done at all: Certainly, not in the reasonably modern era; certainly, not during Ratzinger or his predecessor; certainly, not after the second Vatican council (which in many ways was the defining point for the modern Church).

      o The third is equally weak: Firstly, there was much more to Hitler than a wish to stamp out homosexuality, making your argument highly misleading. Secondly, if Ratzinger has such a view, then it is certainly in the sense of healing a perceived deficiency—not of exterminating homosexuals in gas chambers.

      Your further claims like “women and minorities make routinely smaller wages for similar work” miss several important points. I note that a hypothetical unfair advantage for one group does not justify a blanket claim that every member of that group would be privileged. Further that your supporting claims are at least partially faulty; notably, women do not earn smaller wages for equal work (“similar” is to vague a claim, opening the doors for undue manipulation of fact). See e.g. https://michaeleriksson.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/the-%e2%80%9c77-cents-on-the-dollar%e2%80%9d-fraud/ and the links from there. Further yet, to the degree that these claims may be true, they merely prove unequal outcomes—they do not prove unequal opportunities. Indeed, differences in outcomes can almost entirely be explained by inborn differences between different persons, e.g. by the fact that women have a smaller standard deviation where IQ/g is concerned or that women tend to prioritize family over careers.

      Your claim that I am in “obsession with a single fact”, etc., is both incorrect and misleading. I note in particular, that I made one brief correction—which resulted in a series of logical errors and unfair claims from your camp that needed response. Your further claims about privilege are, frankly, idiotic—you do not know me and your unfounded speculations do your own credibility more harm than it does mine.

      Finally, I note that you on the original thread have now made several very odd statements, including pre-supposing, for no descernible reason, that your comment would be censored—within a very short time-frame after commenting here. These to do you no credit whatsoever. (I state for the record that normal moderation times on this blog regularly go into several days because I have not visited it. Other blogs often take weeks. You complain within the hour…)


      January 24, 2011 at 2:45 am

  2. Forgive my tone but you are a flaming jackass. We have to wait for people to be shoved into gas chambers to consider someone’s behavior to be unacceptable?!?! My family burned in WWII. How dare you protect someone who takes the first steps down that road? I’m done with you and your absurdly academic defense of abject hatred.


    January 24, 2011 at 4:03 am

    • There is a gigantic difference between “unacceptable” and “Nazi”. If you want to call someone a Nazi, you have to have something better to come with than a disagreement in and distortion of opinion.

      As for being a jackass,you are yourself a far better example of this: Unfair attacks and argumentation, distortions of other positions, a lack of reasoning, whatnot.


      January 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

  3. Mr. Eriksson,
    I was hoping not to play this card, but you have forced my hand here. As someone who lost most of my family in the Holocaust, I can certainly point my finger at YOU as one of the academic Weimar Republicans that allowed the Nazis to trample Europe and burn MY family. I have no other use for you here, save that you offer an apology. You show the true presumption and privilege of a white heterosexual man in his ivory tower.
    Yours in contempt,
    The Jew

    Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

    January 24, 2011 at 4:14 am

    • You should have not played that card—it is not a card to play against someone who was born thirty years after the war ended and in a neutral country. If you want to apply some form of inherited sin, you have no reasonable argument. If you want to compare my statements above with the insufficient resistance towards Hitler, you engage in a very grave distortion.

      Finally, stop with this bullshit about white privilege. It is a mark of dishonest argumentation and/or a deeply flawed world-view—one that is not only fundamentally flawed, but which is also closer to what Hitler expresses about Jews than what the Church expresses about homosexuals.(A longer entry on this is in planning.)


      January 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm

  4. […] have had a post on the myth of white male privilege in the planning since January. The preliminary, late-running, product is now present on my website, having grown too long for the […]

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