Reductio Ad Benitum

The 8th post on the Journal of American Greatness originally published in February, 2016.

Gawker is congratulating itself for having “tricked” (their word) Trump into re-tweeting quotes from Mussolini.

The quotes themselves don’t seem all that outrageous.  E.g., “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” There’s doubt that Mussolini actually originated this one.  But even if he had, how is this sentiment any different from Achilles’ preference for an early death and immortal glory over a long life in obscurity (Iliad IX 410-417)?  Would these same leftist scolds impugn Trump for re-tweeting Homer?  Probably, as books of that kind are close to being banned in the West, and already must carry “trigger warnings” at our universities.

Well over a half century ago, Leo Strauss diagnosed a new strain of intellectual corruption: the “reductio ad Hitlerum.” Strauss cautioned that “a view is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Hitler” (Natural Right and History, pp. 42-43).  Nearly two-thirds of a century on, our intellectual discourse is significantly stupider than what Strauss diagnosed.  Thankfully, the Journal of American Greatness is here to rectify that.


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