So, it’s wrong to liken President Obama to Hitler. Maybe even racist. Certainly beyond the pale, regardless.
On the other hand, likening everyone who opposes Barack Obama to Nazis, stormtroopers, and Jew-killers is totally unproblematic.
Jeff Goldstein, linking to the same Reason article, hits on exactly the same idea that I wrote about a few days ago (and which is also linked above):
In other words, Kiteley isn’t so much “alarmed” by the rhetoric of the “right wing”; instead, he is being alarmed by the anti-Tea Party propaganda his “intellectual” brethren have been peddling. And it is not America he fears for. It is himself. [emphasis in original]
The scare tactics on both sides (and I think Goldstein does himself a small disservice by not conceding that the right is just as susceptible as the left to this sort of rhetoric) are not meant to actually convince anyone. They’re intended to reinforce already-held opinions. Frank Rich doesn’t compare the Tea Parties to Kristallnacht (no, really) to sway independent voters or even to smear the right (though such side-effects are always welcome).
What he’s really trying to do is scare liberals and progressives by reinforcing the idea that “the right” really is a motley assortment of Brownshirt-wannabes, and is therefore frightening and intellectually illegitimate.