Godwin’s Law in Norfolk: How do you Nazi the difference?

by | Nov 26, 2014 | POLITICS

In modern discourse, “Reductio ad Hitlerum” refers to that highly effective debate move where someone compares their conversation partner’s opinions or actions to Hitler, or more broadly the Nazis.


In modern discourse, “Reductio ad Hitlerum” refers to that highly effective debate move where someone compares their conversation partner’s opinions or actions to Hitler, or more broadly the Nazis.

It’s such a standard play that it got a silly fake-Latin name and goes by another name in Internet threads: Godwin’s Law, or more accurately, the first corollary to Godwin’s Law.

Yesterday, some members of Norfolk’s Ghent community decided to express their feelings about Obama’s recent immigration policy announcement by hoisting a glaring red and black Nazi flag.

Their thinking (one presumes), is that Obama is overstepping his executive power by taking the aforementioned actions on immigration, which is a totalitarian thing to do, just like Hitler was, and so we may as well just accept that we live in Nazi Germany now, and therefore they decided fly that ironic flag they had sitting in the attic (which does call the question about why they owned the thing in the first place–I’m hoping it was for a kid’s school project).

I’m not going to go into the reasons why this is a crazy-bananas absurd train of logic. That is for other, more reasonable, more poised people to do. One woman, in fact, did calmly and bravely do exactly that, and filmed the whole conversation she had with the couple as they removed the flag from their porch. She did the very best thing that a person could do with such rudeness, which was to stick to reason and compassion, and I am proud that we have people like her in our community.

Ultimately, the most productive thing we (“we” here being rational people who don’t throw Nazi comparisons around when we can avoid it) could do would be to engage these people in dialogue and try to reach some mutual understanding. I am given to neither productivity nor poise, but I DO like charts, so let’s explore:

This post originally ran on AltDaily – Norfolk’s awesome alternative blog

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner is the former editor of GayRVA and RVAMag from 2013 - 2017. He’s now the Richmond Bureau Chief for Radio IQ, a state-wide NPR outlet based in Roanoke. You can reach him at BradKutnerNPR@gmail.com




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