Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hitler was so not a vegan

 Long before I abandoned my tottering deism I developed this personal maxim:

“Avoid all groups that dictate what you can eat”

I had developed this dogma in response to ongoing battles between vegans, vegetarians, and almost everyone else I knew in graduate school. I was ahead of my time with the idea that cultural ideology could effectively be boiled down to off-the-cuff one-liners.

When I moved to Kensington MD my quipy philosophy was often interpreted as a directed anti-kosher, and therefore anti-Semitic, statement. This misinterpretation helped me to throw out my deist sympathies. It made more sense to dispense with the irrational motivations for dietary restrictions than to rely on some special dogma. I must say that cleaning out my psychological shed by throwing out as many special purpose dogmas as I could find has been a very pleasant growth experience. I recommend it to everyone.

Though the vegan-vegetarian-omnivore arguments had many competing flavors there were a few persistent sour notes that would occasionally present themselves. My least favorite was:

“Hitler was a vegetarian”

I have been told many times: that once someone uses Hitler in an argument, that they have lost the argument. Despite knowing full well that the argument was lost I would continue at length after stating Hitler’s food preference. Perhaps once the argument can no longer fly I am incapable of looking away as it crashes and burns.

The tailspin would inevitably uncover some of the same elements:
  1. Hitler was not a vegan, and the vegans in the argument were sanctimonious about their epicurean superiority.
  2. That the attractive, but shockingly thin, vegetarian: “Would never allow lips that touched meat to touch her’s”.
  3. That Hitler was not a real vegetarian because of some failure to comply with some vegetarian code of conduct.
  4. That: “No I could not have their fries even though they might have been cooked in animal fat”

The fact that Hitler was a vegetarian has itself been debated. On the one hand people think he was a vegetarian because he said so, had his advisors say so, and was described as a vegetarian by credible sources. On the other hand there are several sources that describe him as a either a voluntary or unwitting meat eater. Some also point out that Hitler willingly had bull testicle extract injected into his buttocks, and that this was not very vegetarian of him.

What seems clear is that the holocaust had little to do with whatever Hitler’s menu choices were. I suppose an argument could be made that the bull-testicle injections caused some sort of Holocaust-contributing ‘roid rage, but I have not seen that theory developed to any extent.

The Vegans always maintained that if Hitler had given up eggs and cheese the holocaust would never have happened.

 Lately I have encountered increasingly vocal denouncements of atheism prefaced by a familiar statement:

“Hitler was an atheist”

Hitler did do some denouncing of organized religions; especially those religions that stood in his way. Those that did not, like the roman Catholics, were spared much of the Nazi’s wrath.

 Hitler also came out as an evangelical-sounding Christian when it suited him:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.
-Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

Sure there was a rich history of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe. Sure the blood libel and protocols of Zion may have been effective tools in informing the mob-motivating hate needed to buoy a demagogue. Sure the term “final solution” suggests that there were previous unsuccessful solutions. But none of this means that the Holocaust was not invented de-novo out of some new atheist philosophy loosely attributed to Hitler.

The Hitler-Atheist argument is worn threadbare. There are no elements of the premise that have not been examined and discarded. This is simply “Reductio ad Hitlerum”.

 I much prefer it when religious apologists simply hint at Hitler: 
People like Richard Dawkins have occasionally risen to rule nations, and the horrific consequences of their intolerance of religious expression and aggressive assertions of atheism are matter of historical record. It is a curious blindness which fails to perceive that it is the very presence of the Church that ensures the ‘tolerance for all religions’.” -- Archbishop Cranmer

That just seems so much more congenial; doncha think?


Joe said...

Eat no bean sprouts from Germany.

AtheistConnect said...

We love your blog. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

"The Vegans always maintained that if Hitler had given up eggs and cheese the holocaust would never have happened."

Wow, the amount of stupidity in this sentence is really quite astounding. I'm pretty sure most vegans know that the holocaust would have happend anyway whether he gave up animal products or not. Because educated people know that what you eat or don't eat doesn't make a person any less insane or evil.
But what do you expect from an atheist.

adult onset atheist said...

Actually Ms. Anonymous, a lightning-quick search of vegan literature will yield up many categorical statements about a how a vegan diet (especially a raw diet)will improve mental health.

Perhaps it was the way the vegans I was talking to used hyperbole in conversation that astounded you; you may just be missing this conversational tool? Perhaps you are being sarcastic, and I am missing it?