Quite frequently when people engage in political arguments, they get increasingly aggressive. At some point they almost always use an analogy that is so completely useless and yet overused that when it is used online it has been memeingfully associated with a name — Godwin’s Law — which states that the longer an argument goes on online, the more likely that someone will invoke a Nazi analogy.

The problem with invoking the Nazi analogy is that it is almost always poorly formed and reasoned. A teacher, for example, recently called the president of the Texas Tea Party a Nazi because he said that he would deport illegal immigrant students.

This is an interesting comparison however completely wrong. What the teacher wants to do is to deport illegal immigrants from the country. What the Nazis did was to commit genocide against everyone who was at the time legally living in the country that did not fit the Nazi party definition of what a pure citizen should be. Somehow this does not seem remotely analagous.

Then we have the case of Hank Williams Junior whose music has graced Monday Night Football for over twenty years. He compared Obama playing golf with the Republican opposition leader to Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu. Another misplaced example for more or less the same reason as above. Obama and the Republican opposition leader do not agree on many issues but they fundamentally want the same thing which is a fiscally healthy United States, where citizens are more happy than unhappy with the economy and their country.

Hitler, on the other hand, would have wanted to murder Netanyahu and every single person in the State of Israel. Another poor example goes down the drain.

There are very few examples of using the Nazi label that are remotely applicable because it is quite rare in history that a person rises up and aims to wipe out an entire people off the face of the earth the way that Adolf Hitler did. Comparing other people to him is in a way cheapening the sad events that led up to the second World War.

Don’t cheapen the deaths of millions of people through meaningless analogies that easily fall under mild scrutiny.

8 Comments

  1. Excellent article, Gordon. The Hank Williams, Jr. thing is especially strange. First, because he was fired and didn’t apologize — second because the next day he wrote a retort song about getting fired for merely expressing his feelings.

      1. He also has a legacy to honor and protect. He failed the goodwill of his father’s music with that ridiculous stunt. If he’d immediately apologized, he would not have lost his gig. Instead, he just proved what he bigot he has been all along.

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