Because having a second child has produced an unanticipated multiplier effect on the amount of time required to complete a variety of non-blogging-related tasks, I missed this spot of weirdness when it was first discussed at David Kaiser’s History Unfolding. Apparently, an e-mail falsely attributed to Kaiser has been circulating since November:
The fraudulent email attributing an article that compares President Obama to Adolf Hitler to me is still circulating by the thousands in emails around the nation, and during the last 24 hours I have gotten three phone calls about it, including one from a conservative Buffalo radio talk show host who wanted to get me on the air to discuss it. To those new visitors (and there seem to be many every day) who have reached this spot because of it, let me say at once that I did not write it, do not agree with it, and would appreciate you hitting “reply all” to the email that you received and letting everyone know this.
As Kaiser points out, Snopes has an entry on the subject, from which we learn that one of the original sources for the e-mail seems to have been an Atlas Shrugs post (which was itself quoting an evidently much ballyhooed comment deposited at another wingnut blog a few days after the election. The author of the comment claims to be a professional historian who has written “15 books in six languages”; by way of comparison, I have recorded an array of musical albums that have been released by several major labels. I also own a mansion and a yacht.)
In any event, the essay is about as sophisticated as you’d expect from something that receives Pam Geller’s enthusiastic assent — a stream of observations about the slow, painful decline of America, duct-taped together with assertions in the key of Glenn Beck to the effect that Barack Obama is the apotheosis of liberal fascism. It’s also an outstanding example of the convergence of the Barnum Effect and Godwin’s Law, a mating that allows any public figure to be recast as a Hitlerian proptotype, provided that the criteria are drawn broadly enough. It’s hard to fathom how the essay wound up being attributed to Kaiser — or to Tim Wood, another historian who apparently also receives undeserved credit for these non-thoughts — but I suppose any minute now I’ll be receiving a thoughtful, forwarded e-mail commentary written by a law professor from, say, the University of Tennessee.