When talking about current American politics, does Godwin's Law apply?

Godwin’s Law- as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches certainty.

I think that, considering what is happening currently in the U.S., (the attempts to deny election results and the open fraud used to do so, the somewhat successful attempts to restrict voting by certain classes of people, the erosion of rights once thought firmly entrenched in law, the open calls of violence, the vilification of the concept of democracy etc.) a valid comparison to pre-war Nazi Germany can now be made and therefore Godwin’s Law does not apply.
What say you?

I think that if they’re acting like Nazis, then the comparison is apt, including the advice Whatever you think the Germans should have done in 1933 is what you should be doing right now.

Do you think that they are acting like Nazis?

A lot of them are, especially with the involvement of the militias. A lot of politicians are acting in some ways like Nazis, in some ways like Soviets, and in some ways like mafiosos. And they may also act in some ways like Americans. I don’t shy away from the comparisons, and I don’t respect any arguments that insist I must.

I think it’s clear that whether or not they claim to following the Nazi philosophy (to the extent it was an ideology for some rather than a means to hold power) they are sufficiently similar in scope, outlook and intent for the comparison to be utterly valid.

Such at MTG’s recent statements that of course this is a Christian nation and only Christian (Republicans) are real Americans. And all enemies of the state must be dealt with like the treasonous scum they are! (only the most minor paraphrasing and editorializing here). For various flavors of the current GOP, you can substitute White, Male, or something else for the ‘Christian’ but it’s all the same: One group is the only TRUE representative of Gods/States/Founder’s will, and the rest are leper-outcast-unclean and should be Purged, at which point, God/The State/Economy will rain down blessings on the chosen people.

To be clear, it’s not like there hasn’t been strong elements of this in political manipulation for decades, but most the obfuscation, dog-whistles, or othering has been done away with, to a degree I don’t think we’ve clearly seen since, say, the McCarthy era. But since the hate and entitlement has settled all the way down to the most base of the base, it isn’t going to be dealt with by a repudiation of the leader or trend-setter anymore I’m afraid…


Wait, does Godwin’s Law only apply if the comparison is considered incorrect or hyperbolic? I suppose by inference it may be, but I’ve never heard any such sub-clause applied to the definition.

Just for the record, I do agree that a valid comparison to pre-war Nazi Germany can be made to the current state of American politics. I was reading Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts”, a historical account of the rise of Nazism in the 30s from the point of view of the family of the American Ambassador to Germany, while it was still the early days of the trump administration. The parallels between those early trump days and the tactics of the early 30s Nazis in the book were scarily similar.

Godwin agrees with you.

Everyone behaves like Nazis to some extent. Hitler liked dogs, so do I.

The trick is when or if it actually crosses the line. The problem is that, by the time any society gets to the point where Godwin’s Law becomes a real, reasonable stance to hold, “Hitler” and “Nazis” will have been so thoroughly over-invoked by then that it’s fully watered down. People will say Nazi/Hitler long, long before Godwin’s Law becomes a realistic and reasonable comparison.

In spite of the overwhelming temptation some have to rant about their enemies using Nazi analogies, there are insurmountable impediments to effective and acceptable Godwinism.

  • as reprehensibly as some American politicians have behaved, their actions do not remotely come close to what the Nazis did. Making such comparisons desensitizes people to the true meaning of Nazism.*

  • it’s a grave insult to the memory of millions who suffered and died under Nazi rule to compare their experiences to (for instance) impediments to voting and restrictions on abortion rights.

The Godwin Game is a losing one.

*the sting of being labeled “Nazi” has faded, not just due to ignorance of history but also because such attacks have become so diluted of meaning.

The trouble is that you think we cannot compare our political situation to that of the Nazis because we do not yet have deathcamps and the like. Nazis existed long before things got that bad-They didn’t pop into existence in the early '40s and valid comparisons to Germany in the '30s can be made.

If comparisons can be made to the behavior of others they should be, there have been other vicious tyrants. Trouble is, there aren’t that many of the horrors of the Nazi regime conducted that are recognized by name. Godwin is also highlighting that these discussions over time break down into basic arguments of good vs. evil. Guess who usually gets to represent evil. He’s like the speed of light of evil that can’t be exceeded.

Does defecating in the US Capitol count as burning the Reichstag?

How about when one side compares themselves to the Nazis? Like literally holding the biggest Republican conference in the nation on a stage literally shaped like the symbol of the American Nazi party? Or waving German Swastika flags, or calling the people who do so “good people”? Or saying “Diversity is weakness; we are a nationalistic movement”?

Probably closer to the Beer Hall Putsch.

Are those your pronouns? :wink:

Good point.

What can I say, for all it’s faults, I’m a fan of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (well, at least the first set).

And it’s always been a useful summary of the traits ascribed to the ‘other’ in our society, as long as you don’t take the leper part literally.

What if it is an armadillo? Can’t be too careful.

[hijack] I don’t think I’ve read those in over 30 years. Every so often, I think about re-reading, then I remember that my copy of Lord Foul’s Bane disappeared. Looked at your Wiki link; I didn’t realize there was a THIRD series! Damn, now I really should re-read the first 6 so that I can read the last 3![/hijack]