I wanted to hopefully bring a touch of clarity (call me the arrogant, self-appointed clarifier guy) which was discussed at Ken’s blog here – which was responding (among other things) to a post by Thinking Matters here.
The T.M. post title is “Atheists should not criticise Hitler” (emphasis mine), and Ken’s is “Atheists not allowed to criticise Hitler” (emphasis, again, mine). Ken also complains that the T.M. post argues that “atheists have no basis for their morality and therefore cannot criticise Hitler” (emphasis, yep, mine again).
These wordings (‘should not’, ‘cannot’ and ‘not allowed to’) matter immensely.
The phrases ‘should not’ and ‘not allowed to’ imply an ethical contradiction, whereas ‘cannot’ could mean inability or imply inconsistency with a principle or ethic.
Clearly, atheists are able to make criticisms of Hitler (I know some that do just that). And conversely, as Ken points out, some groups which claim a Christian identity (he cites two: Christian Identity and Kingdom Identity) clearly do fail to make criticisms – or even support! – Hitler. So clearly any statement made that atheists are not able to make criticisms of Hitler are false, and would rightly invite the retort about those ‘Christian’ groups which support him.
But clearly, the point was not about ability to make these claims, but rather their consistency with an ethical/moral framework.
Ethics/morals (and the principles/rules/guidelines/aphorisms/laws/etc. which express them) are inseparably tied to goals and values. So – the real question implied is most accurately/technically worded as: “Is criticism of Hitler consistent with the ethical/moral framework of atheism?”
Having identified the real question at issue, I think a proper response to the question would be, “Yes, precisely as consistent as support of Hitler would be with the ethical/moral framework of atheism.”
Christianity (and any other group which endorses prescriptive moral principles based on goals/values) has an ethical/moral framework which requires criticism of Hitler (and directly challenges those groups cited above).
Atheism, on the other hand (to my knowledge), has an ethical/moral framework which is (if I can say it like this) “prescriptively indifferent”, and therefore does not prescribe their criticism of Hitler any more (or less) than it prescribes their support of Hitler.
So then, whilst the atheist ‘can‘ (or ‘is allowed to’, etc.) react to Hitler with rage, delight or a shoulder shrug, the Christian who seeks to be subject to the prescriptive authority of Jesus’ teaching, absolutely must criticise Hitler.