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Another Lesson Learned

I wrote a piece last night drawing some comparisons between Obama and Hitler. Not comparisons which deal with their goals, but comparisons with regards to how effective a charismatic person can be when playing to the masses.

Asking a mentor of mine for advice on the subject, he pointed out something called the "Godwin Rule". Never hearing of it, I looked it up. Here is the Wikipedia definition:

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

References to Godwin's Law often actually refer to a corollary of it which determines that the person who first makes an unwarranted reference to Nazi Germany or Hitler in an argument loses that argument automatically.

Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the reductio ad Hitlerum form.

The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that one arising is increasingly probable. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads and wiki talk pages.

It seems a proper rule to adhere to. How many times have we heard over the past 8 years the use of Nazi and Hitler references to improperly describe George Bush and his policies. These comparisons have done nothing but to diminish the true nature of Hitler and Nazi history.

Which brings me to my quandary.

While I believe a distinction can be made between the two men and their ambitions, in particular drawing comparisons to thier styles and circumstances without comparing the desired outcome of the two, I decided to follow the advice of my friend and not publish it.

It was a hard choice. I really wanted to. I felt a proper point was made in a way in which both subjects could be determined to be separate from eachother, while retaining an overall commonality to the broader sense.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

Another lesson learned.


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Comments (37)

Ok, I'll throw out the firs... (Below threshold)

Ok, I'll throw out the first pitch at this ballgame...

for 8 years Bush was accused of "stifling dissent"

how much dissent was actually "stifled"??? ZERO, nada, zip, nil, NONE! Hollywood even made a movie about him being assasinated!! And EVERYONE dog-piled on him! NO ONE was muzzled!

6 WEEKS into Obama's regime and the hand-writing is on the wall: some form of the "Fairness Doctrine" will in fact be enacted. Most likely from the FCC.

Bush took it for 8 years...and was accused of "stifling dissent". Obama can't handle it for 6 WEEKS...and he WILL stifle dissent!

Now the way they did it in Nazi Germany...

Shawn, go ahead and post it... (Below threshold)
davidt:

Shawn, go ahead and post it. Just change the wording to, "A comparison between Obama and another megalomaniac."

Give this one a try.... (Below threshold)
Paul_In_Houston:
Shaun,I am glad th... (Below threshold)
BPG:

Shaun,

I am glad that you've joined Wizbang and I do enjoy your posts. But by saying "I'm not going to make the Hitler" comparison, you have in fact violated Godwin's Law. :P

Although the comparison is interesting, relative to their respective oratorical skills.

THAT GUY is known to have p... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

THAT GUY is known to have practiced before giving major speeches. Even down to the gestures used while speaking. Don't know how much Obama practices, he has the advantage of the teleprompter.....and won't leave home without it. Otherwise, he's er..ahhh...er...ya know.....speechless.

You might also consider the effective use of backdrops (both were BIG with those).

The ADORATION of the crowds also fits.

Will Smith got himself into... (Below threshold)
Burt:

Will Smith got himself into trouble with the "gotcha" media a few years ago by making the comment that Hitler did not see himself as an evil person. Of course the media shortened that to "Will Smith said that Hitler was not evil". I pondered that for a while and then thought of Churchill's statement that history would be kind to him because he intended to write it. Then it struck me that if WWII had gone differently, Hitler would be revered as the father of a unified Europe--Much as George Washington is seen as the Father of the US.

Shawn, I've always felt tha... (Below threshold)

Shawn, I've always felt that comparisons to the Third Reich are legitimate if they can be backed up with historic fact. For example, all forms of socialism include elements of fascism, and I believe it's fair to compare elements and goals of the contemporary American progressive socialist movement with the Nazi ("National Socialist") and National Fascist movements of Germany and Italy during the 1930's.

On the other hand, the "tomorrow could be the next Third Reich" memes that circulated among liberal fever swamp blogs during the Bush Administration were simply laughable, especially if you know twentieth century history and the events that took place during the fall of the Wiemar Republic. Nothing like that ever happened in America during the years 2001 - 2008.

The problem arises when people use Nazi and Fascist as ad hominem insults to diminish the reputation of an individual without addressing the substance of his argument. To quote George Orwell (1944):

The word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'
May I suggest that the Godw... (Below threshold)
David:

May I suggest that the Godwin Rule be modified to any argument that refers to "Halliburton"?

When any argument or discussion is refuted by one of my left-leaning friends with this word, I automatically claim rhetorical superiority and call the user down.


I'd like to hear more about... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

I'd like to hear more about Shawn's mentor since Shawn brought it up.
Even now, Bill Cosby, Andy Warhol, and Henry Willson are trying to out-jump each other in my clue bank.

"When any argument or discu... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"When any argument or discussion is refuted by one of my left-leaning friends with this word, I automatically claim rhetorical superiority and call the user down."
8. Posted by David

*tee-hee!*

Nice change of topic bryanD... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Nice change of topic bryanD.

Nice change of topic ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Nice change of topic David.

Fixed it for you.

You know, I was going to po... (Below threshold)
Brian:

You know, I was going to post a comment about how unsophisticated Shawn's articles are, but after reading about his restraint in not comparing Obama with Hitler, I decided not to post it.

For the record, the proper ... (Below threshold)
Trump:

For the record, the proper comparison for Obama is Stalin, not Hitler

By the way, Shawn, you need... (Below threshold)
Brian:

By the way, Shawn, you needn't worry about not comparing Obama and Hitler. There are already others doing it. And yes, you would have looked as cuckoo as they do.

More like Hess.... (Below threshold)
914:

More like Hess.

Im sorry... How Rude<... (Below threshold)
914:

Im sorry... How Rudeolph of Me.

You cannot reference Obama'... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

You cannot reference Obama's juglike ears. He's told the sycophants in the media not to.

You cannot compare Obama to a chimpanzee. The Washington Post will call you a racist if you do.

You cannot compare Obama to Hitler. A large global gasping noise will erupt if you do.

For example, it is impolite to refer to Mr. Obama as Chimpy McBama Hitler. Simply bad manners. Despite the undisputable fact that that's exactly how the left portrayed George Bush every day for eight years running.

But it is accurate to refer to him as a Socialist idiot racing to turn America inside out to feed his narrow-minded class resentments about his own country, weaken us internationally, and potentially plunge us into the worst Depression since the 1930's. It's unpleasant, but I think it is accurate.

1930s Germany vs 2010 US</p... (Below threshold)
retired military:

1930s Germany vs 2010 US

Charismatic leader - check
Stifling of dissent - check
Govt enemies list - check
hyperinflation - check (it is coming)
Vilificaiton of the jews (today they are called rich people, oil company, big businesses) - check
Almost total control of the press - check.

I'd like to hear more ab... (Below threshold)

I'd like to hear more about Shawn's mentor since Shawn brought it up. Even now, Bill Cosby, Andy Warhol, and Henry Willson are trying to out-jump each other in my clue bank.

No surprise there, BryanD. You've been overdrawn at the clue bank for so long, they closed your account and turned it over to collections.

J.

The Nazi analogy is nothing... (Below threshold)
Bob:

The Nazi analogy is nothing new in the case of government expansion and central economic planning.

From Wikipedia: The Road to Serfdom is a book written by Friedrich Hayek (recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1974), first published in 1944. ... Hayek's central thesis is that all forms of collectivism lead logically and inevitably to tyranny, and he used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries which had gone down "the road to serfdom" and reached tyranny.

Hayek argued that within a centrally planned economic system, the distribution and allocation of all resources and goods would devolve onto a small group, which would be incapable of processing all the information pertinent to the appropriate distribution of the resources and goods at the central planners' disposal. Disagreement about the practical implementation of any economic plan combined with the inadequacy of the central planners' resource management would invariably necessitate coercion in order for anything to be achieved.

Hayek further argued that the failure of central planning would be perceived by the public as an absence of sufficient power by the state to implement an otherwise good idea. Such a perception would lead the public to vote more power to the state, and would assist the rise to power of a "strong man" perceived to be capable of "getting the job done". After these developments Hayek argued that a country would be ineluctably driven into outright totalitarianism. For Hayek "the road to serfdom" inadvertently set upon by central planning, with its dismantling of the free market system, ends in the destruction of all individual economic and personal freedom.

My comment: If the economy rebounds within the next year, Obama will proclaim his "stimulus" package worked - and seek authorization for more such government spending. If the economy continues to tank, he will proclaim that the "stimulus" package was the right idea but just wasn't big enough. What we need is more government spending, economic planning, control of banks, financial markets, auto manufacturing, etc.

There will never be empirical evidence that will convince BHO and other true believer liberal-collectivists-socialists that less government is the answer to anything. They will always argue that more government will "solve" the "problem," whatever the problem is (economic downturn, the cost of health care, etc.). This does not make the President and his ilk Nazis or communists - but their programs lead to exactly the same end.

Bob - Excellent posting. It... (Below threshold)

Bob - Excellent posting. It is so good that will probably steal parts of it. (The ultimate compliment.)

I was in a discussion about starting a 3rd party (always a bad idea, I know, but the "Republican" title starts you so far in the hole). I wanted to express a concept for the party and I came up with Nationalist... as in Pride in America. But, I'm afraid the taint of National Socialism would bleed over.

Mr. Godwin was correct in that whenever you start to compare systems of government you will come up against the National Socialist model. It slops over a lot of topics that would be fair for discussion if they weren't "tainted" by association. SO yes, sometimes you must refrain.

"No surprise there, BryanD.... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"No surprise there, BryanD. You've been overdrawn at the clue bank for so long, they closed your account and turned it over to collections."
20. Posted by Jay Tea

Jay Tea,
The only clue of you at Contentions is the mountain of candy bar wrappers stuffed in the bottom of the waste basket in the Contentions mens' room.

Since Bob cites the great H... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Since Bob cites the great Hayek, I'll address this into the ether:
Two of the most egregious acts against the rights of American citizens (Ruby Ridge and Waco) were initiated by the senior Bush who also touted Hitler's sacred "New World Order".
The younger Bush, during his entire term in office, sought to weaken the foundation of the commonwealth by insinuating wedge elements into society to promote a new vision (new world order), namely the "Visa Express" program by which "AlQaeda" gained access (and protection via institutional CYA) and the open-borders program, a reverse Anschluss. Both have parallels in the mass pardon and release of all Nazi criminals (and criminal Nazis) and the institution of extranational Nazi cohorts across the Austrian border and cells within the Austrian military (see: Atta and Maxwell AFB)
It is a bi-partisan trend, true. But Republicans are always more successful due to the "squareness" of the Republican constituency, inculcated in the school of absolutes, which is to put self-examination on hold when engaged against the Other.

Who saw the executions on the overpass in NOLA before the tape was pulled? That was part of Bush's Katrina gun confiscation operation. Obama has not gone there. Yet. The Family Bush have a long record of it.

And don't get me stated on Prescott and Schacht and Union Bank.

bryand"Who saw the e... (Below threshold)
retired military:

bryand
"Who saw the executions on the overpass in NOLA before the tape was pulled? That was part of Bush's Katrina gun confiscation operation. Obama has not gone there. Yet. The Family Bush have a long record of it."

HUH??

Hey bryan why not join in the groups that are sueing to see Obama's birth certificate, you are in their league.

Two of the most egregiou... (Below threshold)

Two of the most egregious acts against the rights of American citizens (Ruby Ridge and Waco) were initiated by the senior Bush who also touted Hitler's sacred "New World Order".

Let's see... the Waco standoff started February 28, 1993, and ended on April 19. At that point, George H. W. Bush was busy arranging the grand conspiracy to avenge his electoral defeat by replacing President Clinton with his son -- a conspiracy that took seven and a half years to unfold.

Who saw the executions on the overpass in NOLA before the tape was pulled? That was part of Bush's Katrina gun confiscation operation.

Kanye Weat called, he wants his tinfoil hat back.

And don't get me stated on Prescott and Schacht and Union Bank.

Oh, come on. You don't need anyone to get you started. You'll start spouting your insane conspiracy theories at the drop of a nonexistent hat.

The more things change, the more things stay the same... you're still batshit crazy.

J.

Argh. Kanye WEST. ... (Below threshold)

Argh. Kanye WEST.

J.

No surprise there,... (Below threshold)
No surprise there, BryanD. You've been overdrawn at the clue bank for so long, they closed your account and turned it over to collections.

Heh. As my teen-aged kids say, BURNNNNNNNNN!

So the longer the discussio... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

So the longer the discussion goes, etc, etc. Well how about if the discussion were to begin with a much older observation--namely, "if the shoe fits!"

Is the Kanye West compariso... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Is the Kanye West comparison meant to be an insult?

And no, George W. Bush doesn't care much about black people. He traded Sammy Sosa for a Nolan Ryan rookie card and a package of Pop Rocks.

Hyperbolist, I apologize. I... (Below threshold)

Hyperbolist, I apologize. I shoulda said "Spike Lee."

And for someone who doesn't care much about black people, Bush did a hell of a lot on behalf of Africa...

J.

"Let's see... the Waco stan... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Let's see... the Waco standoff started February 28, 1993, and ended on April 19."-jt

The Waco gun confiscation operation began in Spring 1992 (at the latest). Were you buried in cookie dough then? Please stick with clipping local stories. Nice seat belts post at Contentions, BTW. It took me back to the days of Tony Orlando and Dawn and "Whip Inflation Now". Thanks for representin'. *sigh*
Your a poster child for the H1B visa program: the "before" picture.

"The more things change, the more things stay the same... you're still batshit crazy."-jt

This assessment from the proud author of "naval fiction" consisting of men standing around and chatting while adjusting their trousers during WW2.
Have you ever seen a late, crappy, color episode of the Andy Griffith Show? The ones that revolve around Howard Sprague and that old fool repairman in the repairman's shop?
Add khaki and "sir" and you have JT's take on "naval fiction". Compelling...less funny, but compelling. (In a ZOMG kind of way.)

Oh, BryanD... you used to b... (Below threshold)

Oh, BryanD... you used to be so much BETTER.

(quickly checking... no, I'm just romanticizing things. You always were so lame.)

And worse, you're STEREOTYPING. I don't care for cookies, or cookie dough. Those are NOT my snacks of choice.

And my fiction story? You're still harping on that, flailing for something you can fling that might somehow wound me? Silly twit. Your disapproval is my goal -- I'd start to worry if you LIKED something I wrote.

God, you're so weak.

J.

Me to Shawn:"I'd l... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Me to Shawn:

"I'd like to hear more about Shawn's mentor since Shawn brought it up.
Even now, Bill Cosby, Andy Warhol, and Henry Willson are trying to out-jump each other in my clue bank.
9. Posted by bryanD"

Mildly witty, good natured, and on-topic.

You to me (#1):

"No surprise there, BryanD. You've been overdrawn at the clue bank for so long, they closed your account and turned it over to collections."
20. Posted by Jay Tea

Off-topic, sophomoric, and, in the end, hapless: See comment 33.

Me to someone else:

"Two of the most egregious acts against the rights of American citizens (Ruby Ridge and Waco) were initiated by the senior Bush who also touted Hitler's sacred "New World Order"

You to me:

"Let's see... the Waco standoff started February 28, 1993, and ended on April 19."

Fact: the federal ATF case AND operation (undercover informants, etc) was begun during the Bush41 Administration in 1992. I was and remain 100% correct.

PS. Please don't rely on Cliff Notes (Waco "Siege") while you are in the Oxbridge System.

Bryan, Waco was the first m... (Below threshold)

Bryan, Waco was the first major test of the Clinton administration, and of Attorney General Janet Reno -- and it is one they failed, catastrophically. Reno took personal responsibility for it.

No matter how you spin it, that's how it is.

And my first comment was not as off-topic as you make it.

J.

Whatever he may be, Obama i... (Below threshold)
Robin Goodfellow:

Whatever he may be, Obama is no fascist. One of the key elements of fascism is the use of paramilitary wings of political parties, the use of those forces in achieving power by mixing violence with politics, and the granting to those groups political sanction upon achieving power. Hitler had the SA, Mussolini had the brown shirts, etc.

There are certainly no shortage of routes to statism, but Obama is most certainly not on the route that Hitler took, not by a long shot.

There's really no way to av... (Below threshold)

There's really no way to avoid comparisons between Obama and Hitler. His followers are like mindless drones. He is wildly popular for no clearly explicable reason. Let's just hope Obama isn't as evil as Hitler.
http://www.rightklik.net/




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