Friday, February 6, 2015

Rhetoric: "Comparing"

A common controversy in politics is for someone to be accused of "comparing" one thing to another.

The idea is that a "false equivalence" is being created, where two things are being treated as being morally on par when they aren't.

Of course we should be wary of treating different things as if they're the same. But there's a benign sense of "comparing" where we both compare and contrast the properties of two items.

And, even if someone says that two things are alike in a certain respect, that doesn't mean they're saying those two things are alike in all respects.

For instance, if I say kittens are to cats as puppies are to dogs, I'm not comparing cats to dogs in the sense of saying they're the same. Cats aren't dogs. I'm just saying cats bear the same relation to kittens that dogs bear to puppies.

So, when someone is accused of "comparing" A and B, make sure to listen carefully to what they're asserting, to be sure whether they're really saying something unacceptable.

During an exclusive Republican gathering here [Park City, UT] on Friday, billionaire mega-donor Meg Whitman challenged Paul Ryan over his endorsement of Donald Trump – and, in doing so, compared the presumptive GOP presidential nominee to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Whitman and Ryan are present for Experts and Enthusiasts, an annual summit convened here by Mitt Romney that brings together his top donors and major political figures. Part of the day’s program included a discussion session between Ryan and former broadcast journalist Campbell Brown.

At one point, according to two sources, during a question and answer session, Whitman, the billionaire chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard, challenged Ryan over his decision to support Trump. In framing the question, according to the sources, she compared Trump to past historical demagogues including Hitler and Mussolini.
-- Former gubernatorial candidate (R-CA) Meg Whitman, June 10, 2016, as related by Alex Isenstadt of Politico.

Comment: This is both "demagogue" and "comparing" rhetoric, though without direct quotes and context, it's hard to evaluate whether the rhetoric is appropriate.

"Muslims who support Trump is like chickens for Colonel Sanders, you know what I mean?"
-- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), May 24, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump. Trump had previously made comments to the effect that Muslims should briefly be barred from entering the country. Colonel Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a fast food business.

Comment: Ellison is comparing Muslims to chickens – though not in the sense of dehumanizing Muslims – and Trump to Sanders – though (I'm assuming) not in the sense that Trump is going to do violence to Muslims. Ellison is simply making the point that – just like chickens wouldn't be a fan of Sanders – Muslims wouldn't or shouldn't be a fan of Trump.

In his first interview since accepting an invitation to be the running mate of former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, Mr. Weld assailed Donald J. Trump over his call to round up and deport the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

“I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest,” Mr. Weld said Thursday.
-- Former Gov. William Weld (R-MA), May 19, 2016, as related in a story by Maggie Haberman and Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times.

Comment: Weld is comparing the policies of Trump to those of the Nazis. Both policies involve "rounding people up", but Trump has not advocated a pogrom against – i.e., killing – illegal immigrants, which is what Kristallnacht involved when it came to members of the Jewish faith (who were legal residents of Germany). In other words, Trump's policies are not the same as those of the Nazis when it comes to mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a stern public rebuke to the military deputy chief of staff.

Maj-Gen Yair Golan said on the eve of Thursday's annual Holocaust Day that he detected trends in Israeli society suggestive of "nauseating processes" that occurred in 1930s Nazi Germany.

Mr Netanyahu said the comments were outrageous, cheapened the Holocaust and caused harm to Israel.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said he had "total confidence" in Gen Golan.

"If there's something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it's the recognition of the nauseating processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then - 70, 80 and 90 years ago - and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016," the deputy chief of staff said on Wednesday.

"There is, after all, nothing easier and simpler than hating the foreigner... arousing fears and terrifying."

But Mr Netanyahu said Gen Golan's remarks were "utterly mistaken and unacceptable to me".
-- As related in a May 8, 2016, story by the BBC.

Comment: Golan is comparing modern-day Israel to Nazi Germany of the 1930s. In what sense, though, is he saying the two are the same? If the claim is that there is xenophobia both of them, then that's true, but it's equally true of most every country today. What is it about Israel today that makes it more like 1930s Nazi Germany than today's Germany?

"I think the electorate would be better served if we spent less time focused on the he said/she said back-and-forth of our politics. Because while fairness is the hallmark of good journalism, false equivalency all too often these days can be a fatal flaw. If I say that the world is round and someone else says it's flat, that's worth reporting, but you might also want to report on a bunch of scientific evidence that seems to support the notion that the world is round."
-- President Barack Obama, March 28, 2016.

Comment: Put in these terms, it is a platitude to say that two sides of a dispute shouldn't necessarily be covered equally: anyone who says the Earth is flat is simple wrong. However, political disputes (which are frequently moral disputes) are seldom that easily resolved by scientific evidence. Is Obama making a "comparing" or "only my opponent" mistake in complaining about "false equivalence"?

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto compared the language of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to that of dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in an interview published Monday, and said it has hurt U.S.-Mexico relations.

Asked about Trump, Pena Nieto complained to the Excelsior newspaper about "these strident expressions that seek to propose very simple solutions" and said that sort of language has led to "very fateful scenes in the history of humanity."

"That's the way Mussolini arrived and the way Hitler arrived," Pena Nieto said.
-- Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, March 7, 2016, as told by an Associated Press story.

Comment: This is "comparing" rhetoric.

Just left the caucus site. Some of the nastiest people I have ever been with. (Trump supporters). We have their hate and rage on tape. Others around them were embarrassed for them. It was scary and sad. … All candidates have someone speak for them at the caucus. In the middle of my speech Trump walked in. Thank God, I was just saying "Don't give in to hatred and rage. America is great because America is good. Anyone that plays to the worst part of us, your rage and anger is not helping us become good." I believe Trump, whether he knows it or not, is grooming brown shirts. Don't believe me, go to a caucus. He is even smaller in person than I remember. I think it is simply what he says that make him appear that way.
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, February 23, 2016.

Comment: Beck is comparing Trump supporters to Nazis.

Ted Cruz has a strong ground game in Iowa
-- Pundit Alexander Nazaryan, January 6, 2016, in a tweet including a photo of Nazis.

Comment: Nazaryan is demonizing Cruz, accusing him of being bigoted (or comparing him to bigots, perhaps comically) .

Putin slyly stirred America’s politics by saying Trump is “very talented,” adding that he welcomed Trump’s promise of “closer, deeper relations,” whatever that might mean, with Russia. Trump announced himself flattered to be “so nicely complimented” by a “highly respected” man: “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good.” When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Putin “kills journalists and political opponents and invades countries,” Trump replied that “at least he’s a leader.” Besides, Trump breezily asserted, “I think our country does plenty of killing also.” Two days later, Trump, who rarely feigns judiciousness, said: “It has not been proven that he’s killed reporters.” Well. Perhaps the 56 journalists murdered were coincidental victims of amazingly random violence that the former KGB operative’s police state is powerless to stop. It has, however, been “proven,” perhaps even to Trump’s exacting standards, that Putin has dismembered Ukraine. … Until now, Trump’s ever-more-exotic effusions have had an almost numbing effect. Almost. But by his embrace of Putin, and by postulating a slanderous moral equivalence — Putin kills journalists, the United States kills terrorists, what’s the big deal, or the difference? — Trump has forced conservatives to recognize their immediate priority.
-- Pundit George Will, December 23, 2015, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Comment: Will is accusing Trump of making a false equivalence between the U.S. and Putin's Russia.

Washington Post depicts Ted Cruz’s children as monkeys. And won’t apologize for it.
-- Pundit Moe Lane, December 23rd, 2015, referring to a Washington Post cartoon created by Ann Telnaes and published the previous day. The cartoon accused Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) of using his two daughters (aged 5 and 7) as "political props" by putting them in his campaign commercials. It did so with a drawing of Cruz as an organ grinder, and the children as monkeys held on leashes.

Comment: There are legitimate questions about whether children of politicians should be the target of political debate, or whether children should be involved in political campaigns; I leave those issues aside for now. Lane (and others, like Cruz himself) have accused Telnaes of denigrating Cruz's children, but I don't think that's correct. I think this is a case of mistaken "comparing" language. Telnaes wasn't saying that Cruz's children were literally monkeys – that would be a case of "subhuman" name-calling – rather, she said they were being used to garner attention for his political campaign, analogous (I imagine, "comically" exaggerated, as cartoonists' satire goes) to the way organ grinders would use monkeys to collect money.

Given Trump's knack for stealing the spotlight, it's easy to think he's alone in his Islamophobic views. That would be a mistake. The other GOP presidential hopefuls may not share Trump's penchant for rabble-rousing, but they're complicit in creating a deeply troubling atmosphere. And I'm not talking about the typical stand-on-the-sidelines sort of complicity. No, these Republican candidates are actively -- and dangerously -- bringing us back to scarier times with their fear-based proposals and angry rhetoric: … Ben Carson compared some Syrian refugees to dogs -- with "mad dogs" among them. Comparing people to animals is textbook propaganda, and it often leads to some pretty nasty places (think: "vermin," "blight," "eradicate"). Just imagine Carson's words blown up on a 20-foot poster. Marco Rubio equated Muslims to "Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party, but weren't violent themselves." Shameful. It was only last century that our elected leaders lumped Japanese Americans alongside our overseas enemies. The end result was internment camps, a concept that Trump refused to dismiss.
-- Pundit Donna Brazile, December 9, 2015, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump's proposal to temporarily halt Muslims from entering the U.S., as well as to remarks by Republican presidential contenders Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Comment: First, Brazile is accusing Trump of bigotry, and the Republican candidates more generally of fear-mongering. She also distorts what Carson and Rubio said: Carson did not "compare" Syrian refugees to dogs in the sense of dehumanizing them and saying they were no better than dogs. Rather, Carson said the fact that some terrorists might pose as refugees in order to enter and attack the U.S. shouldn't cause us to despise all refugees, in the same way that one dog with rabies shouldn't cause us to fear all dogs in general. More, Rubio did not "equate" Muslims with Nazis: rather, he said that there is a difference between violent and non-violent members of the Islamic faith, just as there is a difference between violent and non-violent members of any other religion or movement. 

"It's not just Donald Trump that has said that Muslims are unacceptable for admission to this country … Marco Rubio after the Paris attacks said not only that we should be considering internment, he actually suggested that maybe we should close down cafes and diners where Muslims gather, and in fact, compared them to the Nazi party."
-- Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, December 9, 2015, referring to remarks by Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Comment: Wasserman-Schultz is distorting Rubio's comments in a way that makes him appear bigoted. Rubio did not "compare" Muslims to Nazis in the sense of saying they were the same: rather, he said avoiding saying we're at war with "radical Islam" because we don't want to offend non-radical Muslims would be, "like saying we weren’t at war with Nazis because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party but weren’t violent themselves". Also, Rubio said any place where people are being inspired to violence should be shut down, he did not specify that it should only apply to Muslims.

"In 1620, a small band of pilgrims came to this continent, refugees who had fled persecution and violence in their native land. Nearly 400 years later, we remember their part in the American story -- and we honor the men and women who helped them in their time of need. … I've been touched by the generosity of the Americans who've written me letters and emails in recent weeks, offering to open their homes to refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIL. … Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims -- men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty's light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God's children are worthy of our compassion and care. That's part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth."
-- President Barack Obama, November 25, 2015.

Comment: Obama is comparing Syrian refugees to the Pilgrims in the sense that they left their home country in order to avoid violent religious persecution.

COL. TOM MOE, US AIR FORCE, VIETNAM POW: I would like anyone who is listening to consider some thoughts that I paraphrase from the words of German pastor Martin Niemöller. You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says he's going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it's OK to rough up black protesters because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists because you're not one. But think about this: if he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope that there's someone left to help you.

TEXT: Paid for by Kasich for America.
-- "Trump's Dangerous Rhetoric", a political ad released November 24, 2015, by Republican presidential contender Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), criticizing fellow Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: The paraphrasing of the famous words of Martin Niemöller – opposed the Nazis – was taken by some as "comparing" Trump to Adolf Hitler. The ad contains some distortions. First, Trump never said Muslims should have to register with the government (though he did – unacceptably – fail to reject the idea). Second, Trump never said he would round up all Hispanic immigrants; rather, he said he would deport all illegal immigrants (which means legal Hispanic immigrants would not be "rounded up", while many non-Hispanic immigrants who are here illegally would be "rounded up"). The implication that Trump is anti-Hispanic on this basis is therefore unfair. Third, while Trump did express approval at a protester being "roughed up" (which is unacceptable), he didn't justify this on the basis that the protester was black; the implication of bigotry is again unfair. Finally, Trump did not suppress journalists by – as the ad depicts – removing Jorge Ramos of Univision from a press conference. Ramos was disrupting the press event, not waiting to be called on before he spoke (as the other journalists were doing), and he was ultimately allowed back into the conference to question Trump. This hardly amounts to some sort of effort to stifle freedom of the press.

Eminent British scientist Richard Dawkins has drawn criticism on social media for what some say is an unfair comparison between Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teenager whose school project was mistaken for a bomb, and a young ISIS killer.

But Dawkins says he was merely drawing a parallel between their ages.

"HORRIFIED anyone thinks I could POSSIBLY liken Ahmed to a killer," Dawkins said in a tweet Wednesday. "My ONLY point of comparison was their AGES: kids not immune to criticism."

Dawkins, a leading voice in the atheist movement, was reacting to news that the Mohamed family was demanding $15 million in damages and an apology from city and school officials in Irving, Texas, over their treatment of the teen.

In September, the 14-year-old, who is Muslim, was detained, questioned and hauled off in handcuffs after bringing a handmade clock to school, which a teacher thought could have been a bomb.

"Don't call him 'clock boy' since he never made a clock. Hoax Boy, having hoaxed his way into the White House, now wants $15M in addition!" Dawkins tweeted Tuesday.

The evolutionary biologist has been vocal in his belief that the case -- which made Ahmed a cause célèbre, prompted the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed to trend, and led to a personal invitation to the White House from President Barack Obama -- was a "hoax."

He has repeatedly insisted that Ahmed did not make a clock but rather "took a clock out of its case and put it in a box," and has questioned the teen's motives in doing so.

When Twitter users chided the 74-year-old scientist for "picking on a kid," he responded by tweeting a link to a news story about a child ISIS killer.

"'But he's only a kid.' Yes, a 'kid' old enough to sue for $15M those whom he hoaxed. And how old is this 'kid'?" tweeted Dawkins, linking to a story about a young ISIS killer beheading a victim.
-- Responses to pundit Richard Dawkins, November 24, 2015, as related in a November 25, 2015, story by Tim Hume of CNN.

Comment: Dawkins is being accused of "comparing" Ahmed to a young terrorist in the sense of accusing Ahmed of being violent; Dawkins insists he was only comparing them in terms of age (in the spirit of arguing that teenage children should be held responsible for their actions).

TEXT: Republicans keep saying the same thing.

RUBIO: We are at war with radical Islam.

JEB BUSH: Radical Islamic terrorism.

TEXT: Equating Islam, all Muslims, with terrorists…

TRUMP: We do have a problem radical Muslims.

CARSON: Radical Islamic jihadists.

CRUZ: Radical Islamic terrorism.

TEXT: It’s oversimplification. And it’s wrong. But don’t take our word for it.

GEORGE BUSH: We do not fight against Islam, we fight against evil.

GEORGE BUSH: The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.

GEORGE BUSH: That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.

TEXT: Inciting fear isn’t presidential.
-- Democratic Party political ad, retrieved November 24, 2015. The ad quotes Republican presidential contenders former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump, as well as former President George W. Bush.

Comment: The ad is accusing Republicans of fear-mongering. It is also falsely accusing Republicans (perhaps via code words?) of equating Islam and Muslims with terrorism and terrorists, thereby demonizing them as bigots. Being opposed to radical Islam doesn't mean being opposed to all Muslims, any more than being opposed to corrupt police officers means being opposed to all police officers. Citing George Bush – a Republican – seems like a faulty appeal to authority, perhaps an argument ad hostes. (Plus, the ad cites George Bush selectively: he denounced Islamic radicalism.) 

HILLYARD: Mr. Trump, why would Muslim databases not be the same thing as requiring Jews to register in Nazi Germany? What would be the difference? Is there a difference between the two?

TRUMP: Who are you with?

HILLYARD: I’m with NBC News. Is there a difference between requiring Muslims to register and Jews in Nazi Germany?

TRUMP: You tell me. You tell me.

HILLYARD: Do you believe –

TRUMP: Why don’t you tell me?

HILLYARD: Do you believe there is?

TRUMP: You tell me.

HILLYARD: Should Muslims be, I mean, fearful? Will there be consequences if they don’t register?
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, November 20, 2015, being questioned by Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News. Trump had faced several questions in the preceding days about whether he thought American Muslims should be registered with the government.

Comment: Hillyard is proposing whether registering American Muslims is comparable to what Jews had to do in Nazi Germany, with the understanding that millions Jews in Nazi Germany were eventually sent to concentration camps, victims of the Holocaust. Trump likely finds the implication of genocide unfair – which is probably why he ultimately ignores Hillyard – but Trump doesn't reject the idea of a database. Despite several discussions on the topic – and despite Trump's insistence that other people (not Trump himself) were raising the idea of a database for registering American Muslims – Trump passed up on plenty of opportunities to reject the idea by simply saying, "No, I won't register Muslims" or to accept it by saying, "Yes, I would register Muslims." In other words, Trump simply evades the question and doesn't answer it.

At the moment, Republican rhetoric is spiraling out of control. Donald Trump, for example, is open to a “database system” to track Muslims. “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he said. And in an interview with Yahoo News, Trump said that “we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago,” with regards to surveillance of Muslims. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, likewise, wants a religious test for refugees: We’ll accept the Christians and reject the Muslims. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t as extreme — although he’s open to monitoring any place that spreads “radicalism” — but he believes the Western world is in a fight against “radical Islam,” and is bewildered by those who don’t follow his labeling. “I don’t understand it,” said Rubio when asked about Hillary Clinton’s pointed refusal to use the term in the last Democratic presidential debate. “That would be like saying we weren’t at war with the Nazis, because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi Party but weren’t violent themselves,” he said, comparing Islam — a vast religion with 1.6 billion adherents — to Nazism.
-- Pundit Jamelle Bouie, November 20, 2015, criticizing Republican presidential contenders Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump for their remarks on Syrian refugees.

Comment: Bouie is accusing Cruz and Trump of being "extreme". He is also accusing Rubio of comparing Islam to Nazism, but this is a distortion: Rubio is saying radical Islam stands to Muslims as Nazism stands to Germans. As such, he is comparing Nazism to radical Islam, not to Muslims in general.

Ben Carson likened Syrian refugees fleeing the country’s bloody civil war and Islamic State violence to dogs on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters following a campaign stop in Mobile, Alabama, Carson stressed that the United States wants smart leaders who care about people, but noted there should always be a balance between safety and humanitarian concerns.

“For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably gonna put your children out of the way,” Carson said. “Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination.”

Continuing his analogy, the Republican presidential candidate said that screening refugees is like questioning how you protect your children, even though you love dogs and will call the Humane Society to take the dog away to reestablish a safe environment.

“By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly,” he added. “Who are the people who wanna come in here and hurt us and wanna destroy us? Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out in the neighborhood knowing that that was going on, it’s foolish for us to accept people if we cannot have the appropriate type of screening.”
-- Republican presidential contender Ben Carson, November 19, 2015, as related in a story by Nolan D. McCaskill of Politico.

Comment: McCaskill is using "comparing" rhetoric, but Carson isn't comparing dogs and refugees in an unfavorable way: he's merely saying that, in the same way you want to screen dogs to make sure they don't have rabies, you want to screen refugees to make sure there aren't any terrorists hiding among them; and that, just as you wouldn't treat all dogs the same way you treat a dog with rabies, you wouldn't think of all refugees the same way you treat terrorists who might be hiding among them.

FINEMAN: The House needs a dictatorial leader, or nothing will ever happen. And the Tea Party people understandably don’t like that if the person in charge is a moderate that doesn’t agree with them politically. So, Paul Ryan has enough conservative chops that he can sort of try to unify the whole party. But, he’s going to be spending all his time trying to deal with these Tea Party people. What he’s probably going to have to do, if in fact he gets in, is stage some kind of fight with them and defeat them, or take away their power, or go after them. I don’t know if he’s got the guts to do that. I don’t know if he’s got the numbers to do it.

KORNHEISER: Are they like ISIS trying to establish a Caliphate here?

FINEMAN: Yes! Yes! That’s a very good analogy! Without the violence obviously, but they are, yes, they are a rejectionist front. They don't want to legislate. They think legislation is capitulation.
-- Sportscaster Tony Kornheiser and pundit Howard Fineman, October 23, 2015, discussing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his prospects to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Comment: Fineman is demonizing the Tea Party members of Congress by comparing them to ISIS (or even the House Speaker to a dictator). The Tea Party members aren't trying to set up anything like what ISIS wants – with or without violence – and they don't reject all legislating, they just don't like certain legislation that others are supporting. They aren't obstructionists who simply want to stop everything. When a president vetoes legislation, does that make them a "rejectionist"? Much of what Fineman is saying sounds exaggerated.

Ben Carson is hoping to awaken black voters to his campaign with a message of economic empowerment, saying the black community has been done a disservice by heeding political power overtures from Democrats.

Speaking to a small group of black leaders and activists last week, the retired neurosurgeon, who is surging in polling in the Republican presidential race, said he believes black Americans bring more power through the size of their bank account than by putting their “fist in the air.”

Mr. Carson said he generally shies away from focusing on race: “I say that’s because I’m a neurosurgeon, because everyone’s brain looks the same and it works the same way.”

But he said black voters should step beyond their allegiance to the Democratic Party.

“The Democrat Party, of course, is the party of the KKK. Of Jim Crow laws. And perhaps just as bad right now, of servitude. ‘Now you do this, and we’ll take care of you, pat you on the head, take care of all your needs.’ Which keeps people believing that’s what they actually need,” Mr. Carson told the small group.
-- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, as related by a September 29, 2015, Washington Times story by Stephen Dinan.

Comment: Carson is demonizing the Democratic Party using guilt by association. Yes, the Democratic Party used to support racist policies, but they don't anymore. More, it is an exaggeration to compare the plight of African-Americans today to their situation under Jim Crow laws and say the two are "perhaps just as bad"; they are nowhere near as bad as one another.

RUSH: A couple more audio sound bites. … During the Trump appearance there, it happened on Bloomberg TV today, Market Makers. Erik Schatzker is the host, and he's talking with the Bloomberg Wall Street reporter, Max Abelson about a recent Bloomberg story, how Trump invented Trump.

SCHATZKER: Trump seems to have learned the same lesson that folks like -- I don't want to equate them, I'm just drawing a comparison -- that Rush Limbaugh learned. The more you say something, even if it isn't true, the more people believe it is true.

ABELSON: Well, that's definitely probably a very profound American reality, but, on the other hand, I will say that Rush Limbaugh -- actually, I was just about to say Rush Limbaugh is not a businessman in the same sense Donald Trump is, but maybe the Excellence in Broadcasting, is that what Rush Limbaugh's company is called? I think it is.

SCHATZKER: He certainly is successful --

ABELSON: He probably has a real company. But Donald Trump, to be fair, though, has put up huge buildings.

RUSH: These guys are comparing me to Trump, "But Limbaugh doesn't have buildings and Trump has buildings. He's still an impresario, but Trump has learned what Limbaugh learned," and then they get this BS about say something often enough, it doesn't matter whether it's true. You in this audience know full well that everything said on this program is researched to be the truth, and if we screw it up, we correct it. Besides that, these guys forgot about the EIB building in Midtown Manhattan.
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, September 3, 2015, on remarks by Schatzker and Abelson made earlier that day about Limbaugh and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Schatzker and Abelson are comparing Trump and Limbaugh in at least one respect, accusing them of both indulging in "big lie" behavior.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's call for the mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally as well as their American-born children bears similarities to a large-scale removal that many Mexican-American families faced 85 years ago.
-- From an August 30, 2015, Associated Press article by Russell Contreras.

Comment: Contreras is comparing Trump's call to deport illegal immigrants with the Mexican Repatriation of 1929-36. Of course there are similarities between the two, but there are also differences (say, in terms of due process).

WALLACE: You're getting blowback this weekend because you suggested that we should track foreigners who were in this country on visas and they overstay them the same way that FedEx tracks packages. And critics are saying, "People aren't packages".

CHRISTIE: They're not, but what my point was this is once again a situation where the private sector laps us in the government with the use of technology. Let's use the same type of technology to make sure that 40 percent of the 11 million people here illegally don't overstay their visas. If FedEx can do it, why can't we use the same technology to do it?
-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), August 30, 2015, during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Comment: Wallace is pointing out that Christie is being accused of "comparing" human beings (i.e., immigrants) to packages. Christie is explaining that he only means that they can be treated alike in the sense that they can be tracked similarly upon entering the country. He is not dehumanizing them.

Two anonymous gunmen launched a hit-and-run attack on an Islamic State radio station inside Mosul, the group’s stronghold, a Kurdish official said Saturday.

Al-Bayan radio network airs a news/talk format and broadcasts in Arabic, Kurdish, English, French and Russian. The ISIS radio station has been framed as “highly professional” and compared to NPR and the BBC for tone and quality.
-- From an August 30, 2015, article on RUDAW.

Comment: This is a "comparison" I'm sure NPR and the BBC would rather not have made, but it's clear they're being likened to Islamic State's radio network in terms of production, not ideology.

"Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be President of the United States, yet espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century for America. We are going forward. We are not going back."
-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, August 27, 2015.

Comment: This is "extremist" and "out of touch" rhetoric. In addition, in comparing Republicans to terrorists or those who "don't want to live in the modern world", Clinton is demonizing Republicans.

It's said ONLY 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, ONLY 7% of Germans Were Nazis. How'd that go?
-- From a meme retweeted by ESPN analyst Curt Schilling, August 25, 2015. CNN's link to the story was titled, "ESPN analyst compares Muslims to Nazis".

Comment: First, the meme uses "extremist" rhetoric. Second, CNN used "comparing" rhetoric in describing the text of the meme. Technically, the meme isn't comparing Muslims to Nazis; rather, it is comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis, and comparing Muslims in general to Germans. (Whether the percentages cited by the meme are accurate is a separate issue.) In likening extremist Muslims to Nazis, the meme is describing them as a group that should be opposed by violence.

Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore accused Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker of “literally” tightening the noose around African-Americans Monday.

Moore, who is black and represents the city of Milwaukee, Wisc., made the comments during a conference call with reporters timed to coincide with the Wisconsin Governor’s arrival in South Carolina.

According to a local Fox affiliate, the policies Moore believe are comparable to lynching are “Walker’s opposition to raising the minimum wage, requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, and requiring drug testing for public aid recipient…”
-- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), August 24, 2015, as related in a story by Alex Griswold of Mediaite. Her remarks referred to Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Comment: Moore is demonizing Walker with language that invokes racism. She is using violent rhetoric, likening (or "comparing") Walker's political positions to a racist lynching.

For those reflexive Trump supporters who believe that he must understand economics because he’s made a lot of money, I ask if you would support George Soros’s economic policy proposals for the same reason.
-- Pundit Ross Kaminsky, August 18, 2015. Kaminsky was referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Soros is a billionaire whose views on economics are often opposed to Trump's.

Comment: Kaminsky is pointing out that the argument for Trump's expertise is a flawed appeal to authority. In a sense, this is also "comparing" rhetoric: the argument that supports Trump's expertise equally supports Soros' (often opposed) expertise.

HOROWITZ: In your speech yesterday, you seem to compare Republicans who are against this deal to some of the hardliners in Iran, who are chanting “death to America” in the streets. But I think many people want to know, there’s also Democrats you know who are on the fence about this deal. And what would you say to them?

OBAMA: Well, I’m talking to them all the time. And first of all, remember what I said was, that, it’s the hardliners in Iran who are most opposed to this deal. And I said in that sense, they’re making common cause with those who were opposed to this deal here. I didn’t say that they were equivalent. And I think that what you see are people who are assuming confrontation is inevitable and are unwilling to seize the possibility that we could shape an agreement that doesn’t solve all conflicts, but that does solve a very serious problem without resort to war. And what I have said to Democrats who are still trying to figure things out is, just read what’s in the text. Listen to the arguments. See what counter arguments exist on the other side. There are going to be some Democrats who end up opposing this deal, partly because as I said yesterday in the speech, the affinity that we all feel towards the state of Israel is profound, it’s deep. And you know when Israel is opposed to something a lot of Democrats, as well as Republicans, pay attention. The difference though, is that most of the Democratic senators have taken the time to actually read the bill and listen to the arguments. A sizeable proportion of the Republicans were opposed before the ink was even dry on the deal before it was even posted, and that gives you sense of the degree to which this is driven by partisan politics or ideology as opposed to analysis.
-- President Barack Obama, from an interview with Mic's Jake Horowitz released on August 10, 2015.

Comment: Obama is trying to qualify his "comparing" rhetoric, saying he doesn't mean to imply that Republicans and Iranian hardliners are "equivalent". So, would it be fair to say Obama has made "common cause" with Ayatollah Khamenei (in supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, or at least the negotiations) and Saddam Hussein (in opposing the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq), so long as it's understood we don't mean Obama is "equivalent" to Khamenei and Hussein? Or would that still be demonizing?

"I recognize that resorting to force may be tempting in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of Iran. It is offensive. It is incendiary. We do take it seriously. But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to taunts, or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.) In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)"
-- President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015, speaking on the proposed deal on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: First, Obama is knocking over a straw man: who has ever said that all Iranians want "Death to America"? Rather, the concern is that Iran's rulers chant it, or at the very least allow and encourage others to do so. Second, Obama is demonizing Republican opponents of the Iran deal via guilt by association or "comparing" rhetoric, saying that since Republicans and Iranian hardliners both oppose the nuclear deal, they have made "common cause". (Obama made the same assertion in March of the same year.) But just because GOP senators – like hardliners in Iran – are opposed to the nuclear deal currently in the works doesn't mean they agree with hardliners in Iran on everything. It doesn't even mean the GOP senators oppose the nuclear deal for the same reasons at the hardliners in Iran. Consider the same argument being turned on Obama: he, like Iran, is in favor of fighting the Islamic State (aka, ISIS). Does that mean he agrees with Iran on all other things, and supports Iran's position on terrorism or it's killing of US troops in Iraq in 2007-2008? Of course it doesn't. Did Obama make common cause with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, given that both of them opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq? Did Obama make common cause with Cuban dictators Fidel and Raul Castro when he agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba? Lastly, the audience seems to endorse Obama's rhetoric with their applause, though their laughter might indicate some of them think it is meant comedically.

"This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."
-- Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), July 26, 2015. Huckabee was referring to the deal on Iran's nuclear program endorsed by President Barack Obama.

Comment: Huckabee is invoking the Holocaust, predicting that the Iranian nuclear deal will be as deadly to Jews (in this case, the ones living in Israel) as the massacres by the Nazis. This is a prediction, so it's technically unclear whether it's true or false, but it seems likely to be an exaggeration. If it's so obvious that the deal is apocalyptically bad, then why – according to Huckabee – would Obama endorse it? Because Obama is evil or stupid? Or is this instead a violent metaphor on Huckabee's part, a "comparing" of the Iranian deal with the Holocaust?

GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush lumped together Donald Trump and President Barack Obama Monday while lamenting that some Republicans prey on others' fears and angst.

"Whether it's Donald Trump or Barack Obama, their rhetoric of divisiveness is wrong," Bush said in Council Bluffs, Iowa, according to a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday.

"That Bush is willing to equate Trump to Obama, the most consequential president of my lifetime, is disgusting. How can we take anything Bush has to say seriously when he says hogwash like this," said Pablo Manriquez, a Democratic Party spokesman.
-- From a July 14, 2015, NBC News story by Suzanne Gamboa.

Comment: Manriquez is accusing Bush of "comparing" Trump and Obama. But Bush was not equating the two or their rhetoric. Bush was simply saying that divisive rhetoric should be protested, regardless of who it comes from: when Trump says something divisive, it should be criticized, and when Obama says something divisive, it should also be criticized. (It's not clear what Bush counts as "divisive" rhetoric, and whether both Obama and Bush are guilty of it.)

HARWOOD: Have you seen some of the quotations from people on Wall Street, people in business? Some have even likened the progressive Democratic crusade to Hitler's Germany hunting down the Jews.

SANDERS: It's sick. And I think these people are so greedy, they're so out of touch with reality, that they can come up and say that. They think they own the world. What a disgusting remark. I'm sorry to have to tell them, they live in the United States, they benefit from the United States, we have kids who are hungry in this country. We have people who are working two, three, four jobs, who can't send their kids to college. You know what? Sorry, you're all going to have to pay your fair share of taxes. If my memory is correct, when radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.

HARWOOD: When you think about 90 percent, you don't think that's obviously too high?

SANDERS: No. That's not 90 percent of your income, you know? That's the marginal. I'm sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I'm not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it's the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you.

HARWOOD: It came out in disclosure forms the other day that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, in the last 16 months, have made $30 million. What does that kind of money do to a politician's perspective on the struggles you were just talking about? Does it make it difficult for recipients of that kind of income to take on the system?

SANDERS: Well, theoretically, you could be a multibillionaire and, in fact, be very concerned about the issues of working people. Theoretically, that's true. I think sometimes what can happen is that—it's not just the Clintons—when you hustle money like that, you don't sit in restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you're spending—I don't know what they spend—hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That's the world that you're accustomed to, and that's the world view that you adopt. You're not worrying about a kid three blocks away from here whose mom can't afford to feed him. So yes, I think that can isolate you—that type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), posted May 26, 2015, during interview with CNBC's John Harwood.

Comment: First, there's no citation provided for Harwood's claim that today's progressive movement has been compared to the Nazis hunting down Jews, but such a comparison would require clarification at the very least, given that people on Wall Street aren't being sent to concentration camps. Second, Sanders engages in "out of touch" rhetoric. Third, Sanders believes it's unfair to call his tax policy "radical" given that it is no different from the tax policy in place under President Eisenhower. But he does think it's fair to disparage opponents of his tax policy "nut types". Lastly, Sanders engages in "you don't know what it's like" rhetoric.

President Obama criticized Senator McCain for putting less store in Secretary of State John Kerry’s interpretation of the tentative nuclear agreement with Iran than in the interpretation offered by Ayatollah Khamenei. Fair enough. The senator’s comment was derisive and I’m sure he expected the administration to object. That said, McCain’s remarks were hardly an example of partisanship that “crossed all boundaries,” as Obama labeled them, especially when the president would make a much more offensive comparison moments later. … The president offered the most indefensible calumny in this debate in the very same statement in which he denounced Senator McCain. He likened domestic critics of the agreement to hardliners in Iran. Those Iranian hardliners oppress an entire nation. They persecute women, gays, dissidents, and religious minorities. They murder children in the streets of Tehran. They provided weapons that were used to kill American soldiers in Iraq. They are terrorists, who killed innocent Jews in Argentina, and tried to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington. They killed hundreds of Marines in Lebanon. They help Bashar al-Assad murder hundreds of thousands of Syrians. They control Hezbollah and Hamas. They are the implacable enemies of the U.S. and our allies and of every political ideal Americans have shed blood to defend. Obama compared those murderous tyrants to Americans who worry the deal won’t prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He compared them to freely elected American officials, some of whom, like John Kerry and John McCain, served our country in war, and don’t want to make it easier for Iran to commit more crimes against humanity and to dominate a greater expanse of the Middle East. That is a real example of partisanship that “crossed all boundaries.” And if Obama ever decides to be the kind of president he promised to be—a president who abhors tactics that aggravate the nation’s political divisions—he will apologize for it.
-- Pundit Mark Salter, April 13, 2015. Salter was criticizing remarks made by President Barack Obama on April 11, 2015, though it's not clear (to me, at least) what portion of Obama's remarks Salter is referring to.

Comment: Salter is accusing Obama of "comparing" critics of the proposed deal on Iran's nuclear program with the ruling Iranian regime.

"The inevitability mantle that Hillary Clinton wears so heavily, as it did in 2008, ends up being a magnet for opposition … She’s Vladimir Putin compared to Jim Webb or Martin O’Malley. Her access is controlled. The message is controlled."
-- Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian, posted March 24, 2015.

Comment: This is "comparing" rhetoric.

"He doesn't like Congress. He's got his pen and his phone. And when Congress doesn't do what he says he's off doing his best Benito Mussolini. He doesn't like Netanyahu. Netanyahu just won in a landslide; Obama's never won in a landslide. The American people rose up in November and told Obama how they are disgusted with his programs and his policies. And what did he do? He turned around and spat in our faces. And he does the same in 2010 when they lose the House of Representatives. Obama has more ability to work with dictators and genocidal types than he does with people who are elected democratically. The fact of the matter is, Sean, I want to say this and this is important. Eric Holder said that this nation is full of cowards because we won't have a discussion about race. Well, I think this nation needs to have a discussion about what's going on in this White House and this administration about anti-Semitism. Because this White House and it's reaching out to Sharpton, the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, all these radical nut jobs and groups, their policies which are -- it's not just Netanyahu. They're willing to throw Israel over the side for the Islam regime in Tehran. This president's former relationships with [Rashid] Khalidi, the professor in Columbia now, with Wright the so-called reverend from Chicago. This president has a lot to answer for, and his conduct is contemptible. And I don't care how many liberal Democrat donors -- hold on now. I don't care how many liberal Democrat donors he has who are Jewish. He can hide behind them all he wants. But Mr. Holder, Mr. Obama, let's have a national discussion about the anti-Semitism that reeks from your administration."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, March 18, 2015, appearing on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News.

Comment: In what sense is Levin comparing President Barack Obama with Italian dictator Mussolini that doesn't amount to demonizing? Levin is also issuing "Americans want" rhetoric regarding the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014, insisting that Obama has no mandate for what he is doing. Calling someone anti-Semitic is basically an accusation of racism. Finally, Levin is accusing Obama of guilt by association, for Obama's links to Rev. Al Sharpton, Rashid Khalidi, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and others.

The kindest thing that can be said of Netanyahu’s attempt to equate Iran with the medieval barbarians of Islamic State, and to dismiss the fact that Iranian help today furthers America’s strategic priority of defeating those knife-wielding slayers, is that it was an implausible stretch. Of course Netanyahu mentioned the Persian viceroy Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jews, but not Cyrus of Persia, who ended the Babylonian exile of the Jews. The prime minister’s obsessive Iran demonization runs on selective history. The Islamic Republic is repressive. It is hostile to Israel, underwrites Hezbollah and has sponsored terrorism. Its human rights record is abject. The regime is wedded to anti-Americanism (unlike the 80 million people of Iran, many of whom are drawn to America). But the most important diplomacy is conducted with enemies. Given Iran’s mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle, there is no better outcome for Israel and the world than the successful conclusion of the tough deal sought by Obama; one involving the intensive verification over an extended period of a much-reduced enrichment program that assures that Iran is kept at least one year away from any potential “breakout” to bomb manufacture. One word did not appear in Netanyahu’s speech: Palestine. The statelessness of the Palestinians is the real long-term threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Iran has often been a cleverly manipulated distraction from this fact. Among foreign leaders, nobody has been invited to address Congress more often than Netanyahu. He now stands equal at the top of the table along with Winston Churchill. Behind Netanyahu trail Nelson Mandela and Yitzhak Rabin. That’s a pretty devastating commentary on the state of contemporary American political culture and the very notion of leadership.
-- Pundit Roger Cohen, March 6, 2015, remarking on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech that day to the United States Congress regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Cohen is accusing Netanyahu of "comparing" Iran to ISIS. Cohen is also using "distraction" rhetoric.

WALLACE: You're [sic] big appeal, and you could see it here at CPAC, is the fact that you took on and beat the public worker unions in Wisconsin. But this week, you seemed to compare that to taking on ISIS.


WALKER: If I could take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.


WALLACE: Governor, isn't there a big difference between protesters and terrorists?

WALKER: There is, absolutely. And I -- I made that clear. And I want to make it clear right now. I'm not comparing those two entities. What I meant was, it was about leadership. The leadership we provided under extremely difficult circumstances, arguably, the most difficult of any governor in the country, and maybe in -- in recent times, in taking on the challenge of not just the protesters, but everything we had to do the last four years in stepping up and fighting the leadership to move our state forward. To me, I apply that to saying if I were to run and if I were to win and be commander-in-chief, I believe that kind of leadership is what's necessary to take on radical Islamic terrorism.
-- Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), March 1, 2015, during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. The conversation concerned remarks made by Walker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 26, 2015.

Comment: Wallace is accusing Walker of "comparing" ISIS militants with protesters who support labor rights. Walker makes clear that he only meant that leadership is needed in dealing with both, not that the two groups present the same threat (which they obviously don't). A fuller quote of Walker from CPAC is: "I want a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil. We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message, not only that we will protect American soil, but do not take this upon freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world."

"Comparing the events of today to the events of 1000 years ago, how does that make sense to any thinking human being?"
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, February 27, 2015, on his radio show. Beck is referring to remarks made by President Barack Obama in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 2015.

Comment: Obama didn't "compare" today's Islamic terrorists with the Christian Crusaders, at least not in the sense of equating the two. Rather, he said that if the former violence shows that Islam is fundamentally violent, then the latter violence proves the same about Christianity. So Beck's accusation is a distortion.

Many were left flat-footed and with jaws dropped after the president’s remarks at the recent National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, where he let the Islamic terrorists know that he is keeping their actions in context. Obama felt compelled to equate today’s Islamic terrorist butchers to the Christian Crusaders of 900 years ago. It was just another example of how the president appears willing to try to understand — if not justify — the actions of those who hate America. When the president is slow to condemn our enemies, it raises doubts about what he really thinks of their case against America.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, February 23, 2015. Rogers is referring to remarks made by President Barack Obama in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 2015.

Comment: First, Obama didn't equate (or, "compare") today's Islamic terrorists with the Christian Crusaders: rather, he said that if the former violence shows that Islam is fundamentally violent, then the latter violence proves the same about Christianity. So Rogers' accusation is a distortion. Second, trying to understand terrorist acts against America can simply be an effort to explain and predict terrorism, and need not be the same as justifying terrorism. Explaining is not the same as justifying., and Rogers is demonizing Obama to suggest otherwise. (Also, isn't pointing out the Islamic affiliation of many terrorists – as Rogers does – an effort to explain, understand, and/or predict terrorist acts, yet without justifying them?)

At the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Obama made a reference to Christianity that infuriated some conservatives.

Speaking in general, Mr. Obama began by condemning zealots who hijack religion “for their own murderous ends.” He cited the recent massacre at a Pakistani school carried out by the Taliban, the assault on Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris perpetrated by radical Islamists, and the terrible murders carried out by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS or ISIS).

Then the president said this: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."

This did not go down well with right-leaning pundits.

“ISIS chops off heads, incinerates hostages, kills gays, enslaves girls. Obama: Blame the Crusades,” tweeted Michelle Malkin, conservative talker and author.

Right-side radio host Rush Limbaugh made the Christianity reference the subject of one of his segments on Thursday’s show.

“Why would you attempt to downplay Islamist extremism?” Mr. Limbaugh said. “Why would you attempt to put in perspective the actions taken today by Al Qaeda and ISIS and Boko Haram and the Khorasan Group and all of the rest of them by claiming that just as many atrocities have taken place in the name of Christ?”

The president specifically noted that the violent acts of Islam are carried out by “twisted” individuals. But his reference to Christianity, the Crusades, and Jim Crow was less about individuals and more about the religion as a whole, writes Noah Rothman at the right-leaning Hot Air.

“The president, and many of his allies on the left, frequently trip over themselves to emphasize – correctly, as it happens – that ISIS’s acts of brutality are not archetypical Islamic behavior.... But to assert this and in the same breath suggest that Christianity was also a violent, expansionist religion a mere 800 years ago is a contradiction. Why make this comparison if ISIS is not representative of Islam?” Mr. Rothman writes.
-- From a Christian Science Monitor story, February 5, 2015, by Peter Grier titled "Why did Obama compare Crusades to Islamic State at prayer breakfast?" The story concerns President Barack Obama's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier that day.

Comment: This is an instance of "comparing" rhetoric. Obama does not compare Christianity and Islam in the sense of equating the two and saying one is just as good or bad as the other. Nor does he say that the Christian Crusades are just as bad as ISIS. Rather, Obama is arguing that, if acts of violence done in the name of Islam are sufficient to taint the faith itself – rather than be seen as a distortion of Islam – then the same argument applies to Christianity and every other religion that has a history of violence. Obama is arguing that neither Christianity nor Islam is inherently bad, that they only result in such violence when they are "twisted". At no point did Obama say the violence of the Crusades is responsible for the violence of ISIS, that is a distortion on Malkin's part. Rothman's assertion, like Malkin's is also a straw man: nothing in Obama's argument relies on ISIS being representative of all Islam, only that they be people who are distorting Islam. Yet another straw man is Limbaugh's allegation that Obama said "just as many atrocities" have taken place in the name of Christianity as Islam, which Obama never said. Obama himself, however, is guilty of knocking over a straw man, too: much of the current criticism against Islam isn't based on the notion that Islam is inherently worse than Christianity. Rather, it's based on the observation that, these days, Islam is much more likely than Christianity and other religions to be "twisted and distorted" to justify violence.

Possible Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says homosexuality is a lifestyle choice like drinking and swearing — which is why he can accept friends who are gay, despite his religious convictions.

"People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle," Huckabee said in an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "I don't shut people out of my circle or out of my life because they have a different point of view. I don't drink alcohol, but gosh — a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do. You know, I don't use profanity, but believe me, I've got a lot of friends who do. Some people really like classical music and ballet and opera — it's not my cup of tea."
-- Yahoo News story, posted February 1, 2015, by Dylan Stableford, entitled "Huckabee compares being gay to drinking, swearing".

Comment: Huckabee is "comparing" being gay to drinking and swearing (and liking classical music and ballet and opera) – not by saying that they are alike in all respects – but in the sense that they are lifestyle choices that won't cause him to reject people.

Seth Rogen responded to the outrage incited by a series of tweets he wrote regarding the film "American Sniper" in a statement issued exclusively to the Associated Press on Thursday, saying it wasn't his intent to offend anyone or to say anything with political implications.

The actor and filmmaker, fresh off of the whirlwind, Sony-hack-addled release of his film "The Interview," was thrown back into the spotlight Sunday when he tweeted that "American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that's showing in the third act of (Inglourious) Basterds."

Quentin Tarantino's 2009 revenge fantasy film shows clips from a fake propaganda movie about a skilled Nazi sniper.

Online outlets including Fox News Insider, the Daily Caller and Brietbart concluded that Rogen's intent was to liken Clint Eastwood's fact-based drama about the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle to "Nazi propaganda."

On Monday, Rogen went back to Twitter to clarify that he "actually liked" Eastwood's film and that he wasn't comparing the two at all.

Conservative blogs, however, were not appeased. Celebrities like Dean Cain and Kid Rock joined in to publicly criticize Rogen, too.

In his statement Thursday, Rogen reiterated that the movie only reminded him of the other "because they both involved plots about the most lethal of snipers."

He went on to explain that he would never compare the film to Nazi propaganda, and that he has nothing against Kyle or veterans in general.
-- Associated Press story, posted January 23, 2015, by Lindsey Bahr.

Comment: Rogen is insisting that he was "comparing" the two movies only in the sense that they are both about snipers, not in the sense that they should both be viewed disparagingly as propaganda.

The New York Daily News blasted Howard Stern and called him an “idiot” Tuesday after the radio host compared the Sony hacking assault, in which embarrassing emails and other papers were released, to the terrorist attack on 9/11 that left almost 3,000 people dead.

The front page newspaper headline declared the self-described “King of all Media” as the “Cringe of all Media” and on the inside pages it published a photo of Stern next to a picture of the World Trade Center towers on fire.

“Hey Howard… this is 9/11, idiot,” the copy blared.

Stern was discussing the cyber-attack Monday with guests Seth Rogen and James Franco who star in the aforementioned Sony comedy which some say may have been the impetus for the hacking. In the movie, Franco and Rogen book an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and are then tasked by the CIA with assassinating him.

“This attack is no different than a 9/11-type attack," Stern said. "They stole this material. It probably was North Korea. It’s outrageous. The president should have announced immediately we’re under attack."
-- The San Diego Union-Tribune story, posted December 16, 2014, by Debbi Baker.

Comment: Stern was "comparing" the Sony hack with 9/11 in the sense that he believes they should both be treated as acts of war, not that they were both as deadly. The New York Daily News is name-calling, saying that Stern is an "idiot".

"You know what Tom Wolf won't do? He will never support a law forcing women to undergo an invasive ultrasound procedure. He will never tell PA women stop complaining, you just have to close your eyes. He will never compare the marriage of two loving and committed partners to incest. I love Pennsylvania, and I believe Pennsylvania has had enough of shame and blame, enough of divisive politics, enough of dismissive politicians. It is time for the kind of fresh start Tom Wolf offers."
-- Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY), posted on October 10, 2014.

Comment: Clinton was apparently referring to statements by Wolf's competitor in the 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, Gov. Tom Corbett, and declaring that Corbett was saying incest is no different from same-sex marriage. Clinton is also using "unify the country" rhetoric.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz invoked strong language Wednesday to attack Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on women’s issues, saying the Republican “has given women the back of his hand.”

“Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality,” Wasserman Schultz said at a round-table discussion in Milwaukee, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Florida Democratic representative continued, extending her comments to the GOP.

“What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch,” Wasserman Schultz said.
-- Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), September 3, 2014, as related in a story by Lucy McCalmont of Politico.

Comment: Wasserman Schultz's description of Walker is violent rhetoric. It is certainly false if it is literal. It's likely intended as metaphorical, or "comparing" rhetoric that nonetheless demonizes Walker.

In an interview broadcast on October 4, 2013, Corbett was on WHP-TV in Harrisburg when an anchor asked a question regarding a member of his staff comparing the union of gay couples to that of 12 year-old children. Corbett replied: "It was an inappropriate analogy, you know." "I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?" Later Friday, Corbett issued a statement saying his "words were not intended to offend anyone" and apologizing if they did. His office said the interview was taped Monday. "I explained that current Pennsylvania statute delineates categories of individuals unable to obtain a marriage license," he said. "As an example, I cited siblings as one such category, which is clearly defined in state law. My intent was to provide an example of these categories." He said the legal status of same-sex marriage will be decided with "respect and compassion shown to all sides." A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage on May 20, 2014.
-- Wikipedia synopsis of October 2013 and May 2014 events (synopsis retrieved February 6, 2015) involving Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA).

Comment: Corbett insists that he wasn't "comparing" gay marriage to under-age marriage or incestuous in all respects, but only in the sense that they (at the time) were unable to obtain a marriage license in Pennsylvania.

The shame of our nation, Rush Limbaugh, hit a new low today by comparing the IRS scandal to the Holocaust.

Transcript via Rush Limbaugh:

LIMBAUGH: Folks, here's the thing, I guess, that gets me. I mentioned Herbert Meyer. We interviewed him for the Limbaugh Letter a few short months ago.

He said whether you believe it or not, there is not one document linking Adolf Hitler to the holocaust. Adolf Hitler never put it on paper what he intended to do. There is no smoking gun. And yet what happened? We know that the Nazis engaged in the Holocaust. Herb Meyer's point was that the people Hitler hired didn't have to be told. They didn't have to be given instructions. All they had to do was listen to what Hitler was saying. All they had to do was listen to what his objectives were. And he said the same thing's happening here with this administration. He went to great pains to say: I'm not calling this administration a bunch of Nazis. I'm just using this as an illustration. I know people will get my point if I use something this notorious, the Nazi regime.

It's a point that I've made here about the IRS. They say, "Well, you can't link it in to Obama." You don't need to link Obama to it. He hired these people. Lois Lerner and everybody at the IRS who's doing this is doing everything they can to please Obama. There's not gonna be a smoking gun, but you don't need a smoking gun to know where this administration's doing what it's doing.
-- Pundit Jason Easley June 7, 2013, on PoliticusUSA, referring to comments made by pundit Rush Limbaugh that day.

Comment: Limbaugh isn't comparing the Holocaust to the IRS scandal (in which part of the IRS under Lois Lerner was accused of hampering the tax filings of conservative organizations) in the sense that they were equally bad: obviously, no one in the IRS scandal died, while the Holocaust killed millions. Rather, Limbaugh is saying that they are alike in the sense that Hitler never explicitly ordered the Holocaust, but his followers knew that Hitler wanted the killings carried out. Limbaugh is claiming (or Meyer is; neither Limbaugh nor Meyer provides any real evidence) that the IRS targeting was carried out by people who "knew" what President Barack Obama wanted the targeting to happen, even though Obama never explicitly ordered it.

On Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel program Tuesday night, while discussing same-sex marriage, Dr. Ben Carson made the point that if we change the definition of marriage for homosexuals, what’s to stop NAMBLA or those into bestiality from demanding the same. … [Carson] did the interview rounds on cable Friday, including Andrea Mitchell’s show on MSNBC and Wolf Blitzer’s on CNN. In both appearances, Carson apologized for what he said and made clear that he wasn’t comparing gay couples to pedophiles or those erotically charged by animals. His point was that God defined what marriage is, not man, and if man changes that definition, it can lead to anything. Carson also said he was in favor of giving same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, short of marriage.
-- Breitbart News story, posted March 29, 2013, by John Nolte.

Comment: Carson is "comparing" homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality in the sense that he believes God has declared all these things to be wrong, so if you contravene God's law on one of these things, what objection is there to doing the same for the others? Of course, many of the people supporting same-sex marriage reject Carson's view of the nature of morality and right and wrong, and so don't believe allowing same-sex marriage has the logical implications that Carson suggests.

As the nation's top court prepares to tackle the contentious issue of same-sex marriage, one of its most conservative justices defended past writings linking bans on homosexual sodomy to bans on sex with animals and murder.

Speaking at Princeton Monday, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said his previous comments, made in multiple Supreme Court dissents, were effective in making the argument that legislatures should be able to ban behavior deemed immoral.

When a questioner who identified as gay asked whether making such comparisons was necessary, Scalia said "I don't think it's necessary but I think it's effective."

"If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder, can we have it against these other things?" Scalia asked, according to an audio recording provided to CNN by someone who attended the event, which was meant to promote Scalia's new book, "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts." The website of Princeton's department of communications said more than 700 people attended the session.

Scalia said his dissents were meant to be "a reduction to the absurd," not a comparison between homosexual acts and murder.
-- CNN Political Ticker story, posted December 11, 2012, by Kevin Liptak.

Comment: Scalia's reference to "a reduction to the absurd" is a reference to a kind of argument – reductio ad absurdum – in which you reject a certain proposition because it has unacceptable (i.e., "absurd") logical implications. Scalia is claiming that certain arguments supporting same-sex marriage and decriminalizing homosexuality have unacceptable implications. That is, Scalia believes that such arguments would force us to conclude that incest and bestiality (and even murder) are also acceptable. In this sense, he is "comparing" same-sex marriage and homosexuality to incest and bestiality and murder; that is, certain arguments permitting the former also permit the latter, which is absurd, so those arguments must be rejected. Now, it's open for debate whether any (let alone all) of the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage and homosexuality actually do support incest and bestiality and murder, as well.

"Lt. Gov. Brian Calley repeatedly gaveled for order during the Senate debate as Democrats attacked the legislation to applause from protesters in the galley. At one point, a man shouted, "Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler! That's what you people are." He was quickly escorted out."
-- Tribune wire report, December 7, 2012, "Michigan GOP approves right to work amid union protests".

Comment: The man referred to by the report is demonizing Republicans, saying they are as bad as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)

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