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.