Godwin's law is the principle that the longer that one engages in a political discourse the more likely someone will invoke a comparison to Hitler or the NAZIs. This is hardly surprising because when people engage in comparisons they often look for an extreme example of good or bad to hold up against the object or act being promoted or denigrated. And people resort to Hitler or NAZIism because there are simply few other examples that are so universally loathed. Almost no one is going to come to the defence of the NAZIs so a comparison of something or someone to NAZIism tends to make a nearly unassailable point.
However, it is interesting to me that there are many people who object on principle to comparing anyone or anything to the NAZIs. These people are often rabidly pro-Israel. This phenomenon seems to be rooted in the simple fact that, for reasons that are utterly beyond me, Zionists seem to want to have a monopoly on the status of being victims of genocide. It is as though if we make any comparison of anything or anyone to Hitler or the NAZIs, then somehow we have lessened or denigrated the suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust.
However, apart from being engaged in terrible acts of mass murder against a number of groups (including not only Jews but Romani, Homosexuals, communists, and socialists) the NAZI party was also a political party with a political strategy and a political agenda. It was a fascist agenda that they shared in various ways with the other Fascist parties of Europe including Mussilini's Fasci Rivoluzionari d'Azione Internazionalista, Franco's Falange Española, and a number of others. Given that simple fact, it would be intellectually dishonest to a priori ban any comparison with the NAZIs. It is, no doubt, a provocative comparison, and one that is sometimes used in a way that makes little sense. But it is an intellectually legitimate one nonetheless. The problem is, of course, that people are quick to assume that if I, for example, compare one part of a party's platform or strategy with the NAZIs' that I must necessarily be comparing all of their political platforms or strategies. This is simply wrong and nonsensical. I could, for example, quite easily compare certain strategies used by, say, the NAZIs in their fight for North Africa, with certain things that the Americans did in "Desert Storm," without trying to imply that this means that Hitler and Norman Schwarzkopf had identical political agendas.
Enter Nepean NDP Candidate Sean Devine. Mr. Devine recently tweeted this image for which he has received criticism from many quarters.
However, criticism of Mr. Devine's comparison doesn't take the form of rational critique or debate. Instead various political commentators simply call him names. Again, the implication here is that, for some reason, no one can ever do anything that makes a comparison with the NAZIs legitimate. However, in recents history it was the Conservatives (and John Baird in particular) who were so publicly guilty with comparing someone with the NAZIs when they repeatedly compared Russian leader Putin's action in Crimea with Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia. It is interesting to me that those who seem to be critical of Mr. Devine's comparison where loath to call out Mr. Baird for the same thing.
But here is the thing. In 1933 the NAZI Government did, in fact, institute the "Malicious Practices Act." And this act was directed squarely at Homosexuals, Jews, Romani, and other racialized or "undesirable" groups of people. Linguistically and strategically this act bares a haunting similarity to Harper's "Barbaric Practices" tip line. Furthermore, the Conservative Party is engaging in a similar kind of political strategy to the NAZI strategy; to wit, create fear of 'the other,' generate racial suspicion and hate with the clear intention of appearing as the nation's protector and savour. This does not necessarily mean that the Conservative Party of Canada has adopted an entirely NAZI program or strategy, but in this case they are clearly pulling a book out of Goebbels, and this is not, therefore, a specious comparison.
The Conservative Party of Canada has adopted a number of strategies that were central to the NAZI efforts, particularly their communications approach. Make a small number of points repeat them over and over and over, nothing you say has to be true - it only has to appear to be true, repeat a lie often enough and people will assume that it is a fact, never accept responsibility for your own failures - blame others, trade on fear and anger, scapegoat religious and social minorities, etc., etc. Other parties have, of course, adopted some of these too, but Harper has made Joseph Goebbels' approach everywhere in his political identity, and refined some of these techniques in modern ways.
To refuse to make these comparisons simply because a few people are irrationally offended by them is intellectually dishonest and would be wilful ignorance. I for one won't kowtow to a handful of mainstream commentators who wouldn't know a solid argument if it fell on them from the sky.