What did Neville Chamberlain do? The meaning of appeasement

"You keep using this word," Inigo Montoya says in the Princess Bride. "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Right-wing pundits use the word "appeasement" with regularity, and at least one -- talk show yakker Kevin James -- objectively doesn't know. In an appearance on Chris Matthews' Hardball show, James tried to equate Barack Obama's plan to open diplomatic channels with Iran to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler.

Trouble is, he didn't know what Chamberlain actually did, as this painful video and transcript make clear.

Chris Matthews is often objectionable himself, but he hits the absolutely correct distinction here. Talking to the enemy? Not appeasement. Giving them half of Czechoslovakia? Appeasement.

Plenty of lessons to be had here. That's one of them. The other is this: if you're going to call somebody out for doing the "exact same thing" as a historical figure, maybe hit Wikipedia to find out what that historical figure did first.

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