Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

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thresholds and absolutes

"Hitler's economic policies cannot be divorced from his great policies of virulent anti-Semitism, racism and genocide," Hirschhaut wrote in a letter to the bank. "There are really no circumstances under which Hitler should be held as a good model." (here)

Which is a rather interesting statement, in itself. Can we actually not hold up someone as a good model for one facet of his life and a bad model for another facet of his life? It seems ludicrous to say it's an all-or-nothing deal. There's evidence that JFK was a notorious womanizer - if this is true, does it imply that we're not allowed to look up to his other accomplishments? Of course, JFK is considered fundamentally good whereas Hitler is considered fundamentally bad. But this would seem to imply that if we're not allowed to look up to Hitler's economic policies, we're also not allowed to look down on JFK's womanizing. Or maybe it's not a symmetrical case - if it's not, what's the difference?

Even so, there's obviously a rather large matter of degree between JFK and Hitler. But this implies that there's a point at which the "crossover" happens, at which it's no longer morally acceptable to look up to someone for their good parts. This brings up a rather curious question - where *is* this crossover? What's the balance point of good and evil, and why is it there specifically? Would we be allowed to praise Hitler's economic policies if he'd only killed a few people? What if he hadn't killed anyone at all, but had simply proclaimed that Jewish people were evil? I seem to remember a scandal in the US government involving a politician running for government with an anti-black campaign - if this person had also done a significant amount of good, would this good be nullified based solely on what they did to get into office?

Put simply - can Hitler's economic policies be divorced from anti-Semitism? If not, why not?
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