27 September 2010

The Stupid Love Affair with Hyperbole

Dangerously inappropriate analogies have gained a sickening acceptance in this current cultural moment.  Obama proposes a 3% tax increase for the richest Americans and he's likened to Hitler.  A football "star" who in the span of 13 months has had $32 million deposited into his greedy coffers by the Washington Redskins likened his petulant reluctance to play in a 3-4 defense to a disavowal of enslavement.

These disgustingly hyperbolic analogies are disgraceful.  Even more criminal is the audacity of those perpetrating these shameful comparisons.   Stephen Schwarzman,  chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, a private equity and financial advisory firm -- whose net worth is $4.7 billion -- commiserated with his fellow plutocrats that a tax increase would be "like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939."  Albert Haynesworth, said football star, a symbol of our generation's "me-only" attitude, explained his displeasure in playing within the defensive scheme his coaches have implemented with inspired uncouth eloquence:

"I guess in this world we don't have a lot of people with, like, backbones. Just because somebody pay you money don't mean they'll make you do whatever they want or whatever. I mean, does that mean everything is for sale? I mean, I'm not for sale. Yeah, I signed the contract and got paid a lot of money, but ... that don't mean I'm for sale or a slave or whatever."

Now that's class.  Worse still, Mr. Schwarzman, a Jew, and Mr. Haynesworth, an African-American, chose to dishonor the very ancestors (their own) whose endurance through unspeakable horrors made it possible for these two ungrateful villains to occupy the highly enviable positions they are in today.  

The Holocaust and Slavery, without too much debate, represent just about the most despicable mass crimes in all of Human history.  Crimes that are so unimaginably horrific, they defy any comparisons short of mass genocide and human rights abuses on an extreme scale.

Even the Soviet propaganda machine, which filled the pages of Pravda (Truth) and other Iron Curtain publications with endless recriminations of The West's bourgeois depravity never dared to compare Churchill or Eisenhower to Der Führer.  How ridiculous that we find ourselves less sensible than the Main Administration for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press under the USSR Council of Ministers.

Ostensibly, this regrettably spotlights our stupid infatuation with hyperbole.  If something brings a modicum of pleasure, it's instantly loved, and inversely, a small inconvenience warrants hatred.  It's linguistic laziness, intellectual extremism really -- the rejection of thinking through how to appropriately describe what you feel and/or think about a certain subject, instead settling for the most abominable representation imaginable, simultaneously appealing to the most abhorrent denominator.

Clearly -- and thankfully -- I'm not the only person who has noticed and has been similarly disgusted by this odiously cynical behavior.  As The Daily Show's Jon Stewart smartly chose as a slogan for his upcoming Return to Sanity Rally, "I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler."

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