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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Apt Analogies Can't Die

 What is behind the widespread attempts to discourage, if not to banish entirely the use of analogies that refer to the activities of the Nazis and their advocates in Germany in the 1930's and '40's?   What causes people to attack instances of what they call, among other names, "Hitlerization of the discourse?"  Why is Godwin's Law regarded by some to be as valid as, say, those laws of physics that were postulated by Isaac Newton about gravity and the like and have successfully withstood the tests of centuries?  
I'm not referring to the sense in which Godwin put his proposition, which was that sooner or later in any online discussion, analogies to the Nazis would be made.  I mean instead the use that is generally made of his observation now, as a way of saying that anyone making such an analogy has automatically lost the argument, and all ears should be closed to that person at once and forever?

It matters that though the Nazi armies were at length destroyed, their concepts were not, and their actions went far beyond the aspirations of a particular political party in one middle-sized European country during several decades in the mid-20th century.  ("Middle-sized" that is, except when the Germans went on the march, which they did several times starting in 1870, when it was always amazing how they could suddenly expand into being a very large country indeed!) The Nazi beliefs turned out to be the purest and most easily understood form of the aspirations of many other groups from then on, to put various other groups of people, usually but not always pigmented more generously than they, into huge, secure prisons of several kinds and also into the ground, as can be seen from many things that are happening now, in the United States as often as anywhere else.

A country that relies so much on a book that was written over 2,000 years ago, and on a Constitution that is now over 250 years old has no business treating toxic events that happened such a relatively short time ago as if they had never happened at all and that are instead still serving as heady inspirations to many who spend all their time oiling their guns and sharpening knives. 

It is interesting that the originator of Godwin's Law, Mike Godwin, is still very much around and that ever since he formulated his law, 26 years ago, he has monitored the way it is often cited, and he doesn't seem to support the practice of using it as a decisive sledge hammer, though that might not be obvious from the title of his article that appeared in the Washington Post in December 2015, which was, "Sure, Go Ahead and Call Trump a Fascist, but Just Be Sure That You Know What You're Talking About."

I think, however, that my point still holds and that concepts like "fascism" and "Nazi" long ago got past the confines of events in the Second World War, so that today they are as general as the terms "good" and "bad."  And Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Mussolini, and the others have never "belonged" solely to their victims, as some people seem to think.  They are concerns of all humanity, and of all later times.

No matter how often analogies are used, if they are apt they are good analogies and highly resistant to arbitrary executions.


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