Abraham Lincoln’s name is frequently invoked as one the greatest — if not the greatest — leaders ever produced on American soil.
Adolf Hitler’s name is frequently invoked as one of the worst — if not the worst — human beings ever produced on Planet Earth, a man worthy of enough scorn that his name is a colloquial benchmark for what constitutes evil (i.e., “That guy sucks, but he’s no Adolf Hitler”).
Aside from being born in the same century, these two men would seem to have very little in common, unless you’re asking North Carolina lawmaker Larry Pittman.
The Republican General Assembly member from Cabarrus County this week called the 16th president “the same sort (of) tyrant” as Adolf Hitler,” according to the Charlotte Observer.
Pittman made the comparison on Facebook while responding to a commenter who was critical of legislation the lawmaker has introduced that seeks to bring an end to same-sex marriage in North Carolina, the Observer reported.
Pittman’s bill maintains that the “U.S. Supreme Court overstepped with its 2015 ruling that effectively voided an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution forbidding same-sex marriage,” according to the Associated Press.
Pittman appeared to be arguing that the definition of marriage should be left to the states, the Observer reported, when he wrote that North Carolina should ignore same-sex marriage “in spite of the opinion of a federal court.”
“And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it?” he added. “Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.”
Pittman did not respond to requests for comment from The Post.
Now, as you may suspect, Pittman is not alone in his assessment of Lincoln in the Deep South, where the Civil War is often called the “War of Northern Aggression.”
And while his Lincoln/Hitler comparison may sound absurd, the argument that Pittman is trying to make is based on the 10th Amendment, which says the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution and that all remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.
It was the Southern states’ attempt to secede, based on the 10th Amendment argument — and Lincoln’s actions to prevent that — that resulted in the Civil War.
And the 10th Amendment argument has been used repeatedly against federal legislation and court actions, such as school desegregation and the Civil Rights Act. (Other amendments and clauses in the Constitution have been used as the basis of arguments made in support of federal laws and regulations, defeating those challenges based on the 10th Amendment.)
Pittman’s comments arrived a day after another prominent Republican dropped a widely criticized Hitler comparison.
While discussing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the weapons were so heinous that even Adolf Hitler did not even use them during World War II, according to The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson and Ashley Parker.
Hitler — as the media quickly pointed out — killed millions of Jews using gas chambers.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a, you know, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said. “So you have to if you’re Russia, ask yourself: Is this a country that you, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with? You have previously signed onto international agreements, rightfully acknowledging that the use of chemical weapons should be out of bounds by every country.”
Johnson and Parker reported that, in an attempt to clarify his comments, Spicer then said Hitler took Jews “into the Holocaust center” but that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.”