Continued, continued by aemathisphd (10/12/11) ⇌ (@jayn0t)
You write, "Since I didn't answer 'yes' to both questions, I don't need to answer this question. In fact, I don't need to answer it anyway. Instead, I will ask another question: why is the Sieg Heil salute regarded as particularly offensive, compared with, say, the salute of the US Air Force, which has surely killed at least as many people as the Nazi regime?"
Well, two issues here:
(1) There's no specific salute for the US Air Force, or most military organizations, for that matter, so the question strikes me as vaguely irrelevant. That being said...
(2) I assume the question, rather, is why the Nazis are more offensive than the US Air Force.
Making that assumption, I'll note that i read your pamphlet on anti-fascism, with which I had some rather large complaints. The one that's relevant here is this notion that fascism, and particularly National Socialism, is not an inherently "worse" form of government. Part of what, I think, leads to this conclusion on your part is your belief that murdering Jews in camps with poison gas is of the same "value" (for lack of a better term) as murdering Germans in Dresden or elsewhere with fire bombing.
From the standpoint of the victims, you're quite correct. Dead is dead, and if all human beings are of equal value (again, not a great word), then no murder is "worse" than another. True enough.
The problem, the way I look at it, is from the standpoint of the murderers. The intent of the USAF and RAF in, e.g., bombing Dresden was not to eradicate the German people from the continent of Europe. Thus, the action does not amount to genocide. The killing of Jews in Europe during the same period by the Nazis and their allies did amount to genocide, in part because of the matter of intent.
Part of understanding what I mean is based on an understanding of what genocide actually is. Using a fairly strict set of criteria, genocide ends up being a relatively rare thing. ("Acts of genocide" are far more common, but still not as common as alleged.) Probably only the Ottoman Turks vis-à-vis the Armenians of Anatolia and the Hutu Power clique of Rwanda vis-à-vis that country's Tutsi minority in 1994 qualify as equivalent events in history to the actions taken by Nazi Germany against the Jews (and Gypsies, it bears mentioning).
That's one reason why what the Nazis did during the war is worse than what the USAF or RAF did. Of course, your mileage may vary on that point, but that's one reason why at least I find a Sieg Heil salute far more offensive that, say, "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder" (the song of the USAF).
Also, although it's a lesser point, we accept, as human beings, that civilan populations will die as a consequence of war. Ergo, we can feel badly that German civilians were killed during WWII, and we should note that there was little or no excuse to kill these civilians in the manner that they were killed, particularly given how close the war was to ending in, say, February 1945, when Dresden was bombed. However, that was also not a consideration for the Nazis in bombing London (or Rotterdam or Warsaw), nor was it the U.S.'s concern in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Japanese in bombing Nanjing. I think you catch my drift.
We do not, however, accept it as a normal consequence of war that one of the combatants will deliberately target a trans-national, or for that matter a national or subnational, ethnic, religious, linguistic, or other "organic" group of people for mass murder. That's another point that makes what the Nazis did far worse.
If you want a comparable point in American history, then point to the U.S. treatment of the Lakota and related tribes, but drawing a moral equivalence between the Nazis' behavior during WWII and virtually any other combatant, with the possible exceptions of the Japanese in limited instances and the Soviets in the first and last year of the war (in Poland and the Baltics and in Germany, respectively), is, I think, wrong-headed.