Before we keep going, I need to make sure we’re all on the same page: Nazism is bad and Hitler was terrible. I shouldn’t need to explain why that’s the case, so I’m just going to take it as a given that we all agree on that front.
You see what I did there? What I just invoked is an internet adage known as “Godwin’s Law”. Coined by American attorney and author Mike Godwin, it asserts that if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler. And this is not a good thing most of the time, as you may have guessed.
By demonising an opposing point of view through comparing it to the most destructive and reviled ideology on the planet, one avoids any actual discussion of an idea’s faults or benefits. It’s supposed to be a sort of silver bullet to shut down ideological opponents, but it’s actually just a desperate way of validating your own point of view within a much more complicated issue.
But, as is often the case with useful terms brought forth by the internet, Godwin’s Law is being abused by some. Or, rather, it’s being used disingenuously. To illustrate this, once again, I’m turning to everyone’s favourite spray-tanned Muppet as an example: Donald Trump.
Donald Trump was the subject of various invocations of Godwin’s Law during his acid trip of a campaign, and he continues to be compared to Hitler now that he’s been “elected” President through what I can only assume to be a combination of opportunistic fear-mongering and devil magic.
Obviously, it’s disingenuous and simplistic to say that Donald Trump is “literally Hitler” or “an actual Nazi”. What is not disingenuous is to point out the similarities between, for instance, Hitler’s ascension to power And how he preyed on the uglier, ultranationalistic, antisemitic impulses to push his agenda, and Donald Trump’s own nationalist rhetoric.
I guess my point is that it’s not inherently a bad thing to invoke Godwin’s Law, but there needs to be an intellectually sound reason to do so. And if that is the case, it is not disingenuous to compare somebody to Hitler if there is a reason to do so.
With that said, I’d like to end by saying that Justin Trudeau is reforming the Hitler Youth and holding meetings in his basement. WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!!!!!!!1!!11!!!