October 19, 2008

Penny Führer Thoughts

From AOL Sports: Holtz Apologizes for Hitler Remark
ESPN analyst Lou Holtz apologized on air Saturday for mentioning Adolf Hitler during a college football studio show the previous night.
I'm sorry, he's in trouble for mentioning Hitler? What is this, the Ahmadinejad school of broadcasting? I think it's okay to acknowledge that the most notorious dictator in history actually existed. Sure, maybe a college sports broadcast is not the most tasteful or cogent place to do so, but let's be honest: where else are the people watching going to learn about world history?

What Holtz actually said was
You know, Hitler was a great leader, too
which, okay, does sound bad, I'll admit. But if you look at it in context, it's actually a valid point that's been made in many respectable intellectual arenas before.

Holtz isn't saying that Hitler was a good leader in that he accomplished good things while he was in power (in the same way that we might say, for instance, that George W. Bush is a bad leader) — he's saying that Hitler was a good leader qua leader; he was good at getting people to follow him. And that's true and worth remembering, if only so that we know not to do everything that the first charismatic guy with a moustache who comes along tells us to do (I'm looking at you, Geraldo).

So give Holtz a break. Inappropriate timing is not a crime — it's just inappropriate. And if we punished it every time it happened, well, this blog would be out of business, for a start. And nobody wants that, do they? (At least, not until I've reported on manscaping.)

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