‘Comparisons to Hitler no taboo’, Mike Godwin says

This 17 April 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Yale professor: Why it’s useful to compare Trump to Hitler

Timothy Snyder is the author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” and the Levin professor of history at Yale University. Snyder explains how comparing Trump to Hitler can be useful despite the differences.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant, 3 May 2019 (re-translation from Dutch into English, so maybe different from English original):

Godwin’s Law was never intended to ban comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis, writes the inventor, Mike Godwin. However, be careful, do not equate lightly. …

Part of the reason why discussions about Hitler, Godwin’s Law etc. go wrong is people not differentiating between equating and comparing. In a comparison, one may find both differences and similarities.

As the man who came up with Godwin;s Law almost thirty years ago – I can say with certainty that my Law was never intended to prevent anyone from making meaningful comparisons between current events and events of the last century associated with Hitler, the Nazis or the Holocaust. …

In the US, Godwin’s Law has been referred, not entirely unjustifiably, in response to the Trump government immigration policy, which has led to the traumatic separation of prospective immigrants from their children. The unnecessary cruelty of this policy is not only crystal clear, but it also clearly serves a purpose – our government acts so cruelly to discourage refugees. It came as no surprise that the CIA and NSA former director, Michael Hayden, made the comparison on Twitter in June last year between this policy and how the Nazis treated children in German concentration camps (also an example of intentional cruelty as a policy). …

Some on the right are accusing me of political correctness because I said on Twitter that it is OK to compare the white nationalists who rampaged in Charlottesville in 2017 with Nazis. …

Take the argument that the treatment of asylum seekers, including children, on the US American border is not as monstrous as institutionalized genocide. That may be true, but it is not exactly a strong argument. The (insincere) argument that the government only enforces immigration laws also looks suspiciously like “Befehl ist Befehl“. That is a defense that did not apply in the 1940s, and still does not today. …

Feel free to call in the Law if you think that some comparison with the Nazis is unfounded, unnecessarily inflammatory or highly exaggerated. But the Godwin’s Law has never been intended to prevent us from protesting against policies of cruelty, and against heartlessness of officials who claim that they are merely implementing the law. And certainly not to protect our leaders against strong criticism when they try to sell untruths as facts. Such disturbing behavior – seen with figures such as Trump, Putin, Duterte, Orbán, Salvini and Bolsonaro – may not be a prelude to a new Reich, but I am still concerned that it could be the “embryonic form” of a horror that we hoped was behind us. …

I think the best way to avoid a future Holocaust is not to avoid Holocaust comparisons. We had better ensure that such comparisons are meaningful and make sense.

5 thoughts on “‘Comparisons to Hitler no taboo’, Mike Godwin says

  1. Pingback: United States Donald Trump Youth scandals | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  4. Pingback: ‘Trump Hitler-like’, 100-year-old Holocaust survivor says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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