Suddenly I have the urge to violate Godwin’s Law

Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”. That is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread often ends. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990, Godwin’s law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions. It is now applied to any threaded online discussion, such as Internet forums, chat rooms, and comment threads, as well as to speeches, articles, and other rhetoric where reductio ad Hitlerum occurs.

Basically you’re not supposed to compare your political opponents to Nazis. It’s almost always melodramatic, ahistorical, and usually wrong. But hey, why not? Drinking is bad for you too, but an occasional six-pack of Pabst never killed anybody. So let’s get started.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Schindler’s List. Spielberg is obviously a great director and the film was well made, but I felt that setting up the “good” capitalist as the hero was, as the millennial kiddies say on social media, “problematic.”

Oddly enough, however, reading about what’s happening to frail and elderly people in nursing homes during the current Coronavirus Pandemic is giving me new appreciation for the 1994 Best Picture winner. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Spielberg made a film about a “good” capitalist who spoke to the Nazis on their own, very capitalist, terms. He saved thousands of Jews by declaring them “essential workers.” Ben Shapiro, a far right wing ideologue and darling of the American ruling class, says the quiet part out loud. Under capitalism, frail elderly people are not “essential workers.” They can’t make us money, so let them die.

OK. I (a Protestant) have violated Godwin’s Law by calling Ben Shapiro, a Jew, a Nazi. Perhaps there’s a better comparison. After all, we Americans have committed plenty of atrocities of our own. We don’t really need the Germans to say “that’s really evil.” So let’s talk about “Manifest Destiny.”  Atun-Shei Films, a former tour guide at Gettysburg, runs one of the best history channels on YouTube. He talks a lot about the relationship between cannibalism in the old west and it’s relationship to Manifesto Destiny.

As ravenous Puritans and Anglo Saxons moved west and committed genocide against the Indians, they ate, consumed the land as surely as members of the Donner Party consumed one another. Cannabilism, and the cannibalistic nature of capitalism, is as American as apple, or perhaps some other kind of pie. And the idea is making a comeback. If the economy goes to hell, and we can’t quite work up the nerve to eat the rich, we may have to eat one another. I leave this here without comment. No, it’s not The Onion.


8 thoughts on “Suddenly I have the urge to violate Godwin’s Law

  1. John Thurloe

    That’s a completely stupid rule. People have ever demonized by shorthand those that threaten them. Papists, injuns, Satan, commies. A commonplace observation lacking significance.

    The elderly are a valuable commodity to the medical racketeers. Permanently locked down at very low cost, such are milked for big money providing worthless ‘treatments’. The longer the doctor parasites can drag out their miserable existence, oh how the money rolls in. Of course the management doesn’t pay for staff or decent food or to clean so they suffer casualties when a pathogen comes along. But, plenty of refills are available.

    As soon as there is no pot of money though, a senior in need of care and housing gets the boot. ‘Not our problem’. Liabilities like this are best terminated ASAP. Doctors have a cure for nothing. They profit from endless funded treatment. If there was ever a cure for a major disease the doctors would and have resisted it fiercely. Might put the worthless parasites out of work.

    The medical scum are milking this covidiocy to the nines. Just like they did with Swine Flu, SARS, cancer, heart disease. This is what ‘iatrogenesis’ is. Doctor Caused. Which the late Ivan Illich, M.D. popularized and which any health economist knows is standard operating procedure.

    But heaven forbid the fake news media would ever so inform the chumperie.

    1. srogouski Post author

      Care for the elderly is definitely a form of wealth extraction in the United States but it’s not really doctors profiting. It’s the insurance companies.

      The odd thing is that in practice I think most doctors would be fine with a Canadian style system of healthcare (where the medical industry is private but the government takes over the role of the insurance companies) but ideologically they all buy the same propaganda the media is feeding the rest of us.

      1. John Thurloe

        Doctoring is a contemptible guild monopoly racket. Physicians are complete swindlers with a cure for nothing. Canadian doctors are paid on fee-for-service just like their U.S. counterparts. When GDP for healthcare exceeds 20% with health indices dropping like stones and chronicity is over the top you have a criminal racket. With the practice of medicine a state permitted self-regulated monopoly that seals it.

        Of course the hospital business, which is like the private prison business is also to blame. The processed food parasites, Big Pharma, the regulators. They all have their snouts in the trough.

        Nurses, and other smaller and non-regulated health practitioners are not so culpable. They are not allowed at the feasting table and so do not profit from the systemic corruption.

        The rotten state of nutrition and medicine will play a significant role in the demise of the United States. An aeging population, ever sicker in more frightening ways, with a greedy system that’s run out of gas. Fat, lazy and stupid.

        1. srogouski Post author

          Canadian doctors are paid on fee-for-service just like their U.S. counterparts.

          Right. Healthcare is capitalist but the insurance industry is nationalized. It’s not perfect but it does cut out the worst abuses of the America system.

          FWIW, everybody in my father’s family lived into their 80s and 90s and never needed to be put into a nursing home. And the average male height was like 6’2″. Superior Lithuanian genes.

          Sadly I take after the Swiss side of my family and I can’t even make watches or chocolate. Still though, except for getting my skull cracked a few years ago when a driver opened a car door on my bike, I’ve largely managed to avoid the healthcare system.

    2. srogouski Post author

      That’s a completely stupid rule. People have ever demonized by shorthand those that threaten them. Papists, injuns, Satan, commies. A commonplace observation lacking significance.

      Well, in 2020 Americans aren’t threatened at all by genocidal German nationalism. They weren’t much threatened by it in 1941 either. Unassimilated German immigrants in New Jersey in 1940 who joined the German American Bund got the shit kicked out of them by the local gangsters even at the height of the America First Movement. Phillip Roth’s novel and the new TV miniseries are both pretty fanciful.

      So the process by which Hitler (and not say King Leopold or Sir Richard Temple )has become a secular stand in for the devil is interesting. I suppose it’s a way for Americans to avoid confronting Native American genocide or Anglo American imperialism. Nobody in the English speaking world likes to talk about this.

      Temple tried to determine the minimum amount of food Indians could survive on. In his experiments, “strapping fine fellows” were starved until they resembled “little more than animated skeletons … utterly unfit for any work”, he noted. In the labour camps he set up, inmates were given fewer daily calories than in the Buchenwald concentration camp 80 years later

      Now that the Democratic Party has been fully coopted by Bush-era neoconservatves (Sanders’s loss represents the final expulsion of liberals from the Democratic Party) Russian (and to some extent Polish and Hungarian nationalism) has became the stand in for Nazism (as well as communism). Anybody rich, reactionary suburban Democrats don’t like is now a National Bolshevik.

      Anybody the Republicans don’t like continues to be a Muslim. Of course things get confusing. Republicans in 2003 were perfectly fine with destroying the secular government of Iraq and creating ISIS (which the Democrats then proceeded to use against Syria). Democrats (and liberals in Canada) claim to hate reactionary eastern and central European nationalism (or so they say) but they’re rather fond of reactionary Ukrainian nationalism. The Canadian government even has the descendant of Ukrainian Nazis close to the inner circles of power.

      I suppose liberals will suspect me of being a “secret Russian” for quoting this.

      Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Mykhailo Khomiak in Ukrainian, had been a journalist before World War II, and during the war in Nazi-occupied Poland edited a periodical, Krakivs’ki visti (News of Krakow), supervised directly by the Nazi authorities.[15] After Chomiak’s death in 1984, John-Paul Himka, a professor of history at the University of Alberta, who was Chomiak’s son-in-law (and also Freeland’s uncle by marriage), used Chomiak’s records, including old issues of the journal, as the basis of several scholarly papers.[16][17] However, Chomiak’s background was not well known to the general public, and it was considered newsworthy when some Russian-affiliated websites publicized it at the time Freeland was appointed to the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.[18][19][20] Freeland and others have claimed that the circulation of news in 2017 regarding her grandfather’s connection to Nazism was the result of a Russian disinformation campaign.[21][15]

      Basically these days German Nazis hardly exist (except for a few weird extremists), Polish, Russian and Hungarian (I won’t say “Nazis” but “reactionary nationalists” are bad bad bad) and Ukrainian Nazis get a pass.

      English Nazis of course were vanquished when the most evil Nazi of them all (Jeremy Corbyn) was replaced as the head of the Labor Party by a hardcore neoliberal and Zionist.

      English Nazis have always been rather silly anyway.

      1. John Thurloe

        I lived deep in the heartland of the Toronto Ukrainian ghetto. I went to school with the children of murderers. The story on Freeland is actually much worse than the truth of what you write.

        1. srogouski Post author

          I still remember the Village Voice making fun of Ukrainian Nazis in the late 80s.

          “Those two old Ukrainians sitting on the bench? Better watch out, one of them might be a freedom fighter against the Judeo Bolshevik menace.”

  2. Pingback: Suddenly I have the urge to violate Godwin’s Law — Writers Without Money – Chicago FEEDBACK Film Festival

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