Who was the rhetorical stand-in for evil before Hitler?


ESPN dropped singer Hank Williams Jr. from its Monday Night Football telecast after he publicly compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler on Monday.

This is from 2011. Does anyone remember the just sputtering hatred of Hank Williams, Jr. for Obama? For years, he builds up this goodwill as the Are You Ready For Some Football Guy, then that. He didn’t even get to what exactly the guy apparently did. Just the name was enough. Very like saying Pharoah, Hitler, Saddaam, or Satan.

I can (kind of) understand that kind of visceral dislike. But when I say Cheney that way, it’s for a valid reason. After Hitler, Dick Cheney is the undisputed rhetorical human embodiment of evil.

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The Pharaoh of Exodus, who chose to endure 10 plagues rather than let the Hebrew people go.

Huh, that’s funny. Even ignoring the fact that Exodus never happened, it’s a strange choice.

Sure, he refused, but then partway into the story, the pharaoh tried to relent, and YHWH just mindraped him into returning to the role of a stubborn ruler.

And in the end, instead of harming the one person in the story who actually had a say in the matter, he takes it out on all the firstborn sons of people who had no say in the matter or not.

The YHWH of Exodus seems like an exponentially bigger bastard than the Pharaoh.


Aren’t you cute?

I was well aware of the tradition of using Exodus in negro spirituals - for obvious reasons. Never knew white folks applied it to each other as well Interesting stuff!

So what I’m hearing is that comparing people to Hitler is going to stick around for another 3000 years.

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I would have guessed Napoleon myself. I remember a character in War and Peace calling Napoleon the Antichrist in a way that reminded me of modern fundamentalists throwing the accusation around at people like Obama today. Napoleon’s probably got a better claim to the title


Related question: what was the best thing since sliced bread, before sliced bread?

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Attila the Hun never got much good press.

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Jane Austen



Andy Dick



That one depends on perspective. For some people he was a great leader and king.

That same applies to a great many of the historical leaders that people look back on fondly.

Particularly for the Russians – and the Spanish (think of Goya’s painting of French soldiers shooting Spanish civilians). In the English speaking world, we sometimes romanticize Napoleon (the guy did have style, and supported the arts and sciences, even if he did fill the Louvre with plunder), but he probably was the worst thing for Europe until Hitler and Stalin.

Napoleon kept a fair share of admirers in many places. I give some points since the British used Boney as a bogeyman to frighten children, though, as the Romans did with Hannibal many centuries before.

That’s my excuse to repost this, which seems appropriate:


Seriously though, the stand-in for the Nazis was the Jews. Through the use of propaganda and psychological projection, the Nazis blamed the Jews for everything that the Nazis planned to do. They accused the Jews of a global campaign of racial genocide and enslavement. Having “exposed” this vast “conspiracy” they had already mapped out their own strategy because it was just a case of let’s-do-it-to-them-before-they do-it-to-us-because-that’s-what-they-deserve. These paranoid fantasies were an excuse for preemptive war (yes I know). If Hitler were around today he would be calling the Jews “Nazis” while the National Socialist would be calling themselves something like “The Love And Free Puppies Party.”

Right wing nut jobs (RWNJ), neoconfederates, and neofascists, like to use the frame that “Hitler was a leftist,” which is pretty similar to what the Nazis said about their critics. And people who say “Hitler was a leftist” seems to include very large numbers of Holocaust deniers.


I live in Switzerland where they do not have sliced bread (I kid you not). I have asked this same question and answer is their saying is: “The best thing since the soup spoon.”


It is so easy to forget that default, normal, and proper thinking until say the 60s was to hate Jews; it was strange and creepy to most people if you didn’t. The nazi party was, strange now to hear, well regarded by the remaining intellectuals after they had driven out the large percentage of Jews in that group. Well into the enlightenment in Europe it was often officially ok to oppress, murder, rape, kidnap, and force convert Jews. America may not have been as strident in their hatred for Jews but it was there, there was big debate in my wife’s aunt’s sorority in 1958 at University of Oregon over allowing her as the first Jew to be admitted. My mother in law three years later at the same school actually woke one night to find a few drunk girls with flashlights looking for the sawed off horns in her hair.
It sounds so insane that most people will just not accept it, Jews were the real living perfectly innocent boogymen that people used to frighten both children and adults.


Knock on wood.

Caligula? Nero? King John? Dicky 3?

Antisemitism in the US got knocked back on Pearl Harbor Day. Until then, the Nazi-funded German American Bund was fairly popular in the US, even holding a rally that filled Madison Square Garden. They tried to adopt a super-patriot image of American flags and huge images of George Washington, but their loyalty was to the Nazis. After Pearl Harbor, some of them were interred and Bund property (including a number of summer camps) was confiscated.

And of course WW2 gave the US the Jewish cream of the crop as we got people like Einstein.

However, there are still elaborate and rabid antisemitic conspiracy theories regarding “political correctness” and “The Frankfurt School.” Supposedly a handful of Jewish refugee sociologists conquered America back in the 1960s. Pat Buchanan and Pat Boone wrote books on this, see also Anders Breivik’s terrorist manifesto.