Godwin's law; "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." Yet as any online discussion grows longer, the probability of anything being mentioned approaches one. In fact, Godwin’s law itself seems to be invoked in discussion so often, that the new Godwin's law could even be stated to read; "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a reference to Godwin's law approaches one."
Yet Godwin’s law is an understandable proposition, because the probability of a reference to Hitler, or Nazism, may be higher than the probability of many other references. For Hitler and Fascism references and "comparisons" are not only popular, but also provocative, and extremely inflammatory.
Perhaps precisely because of this reason...
...the Far Right, of course, has frequently invoked the Nazi or Fascist term in referring to its political opponents -- namely, Independents, Moderate libertarian leaning Republicans or Democrats, Moderate Democrats, Liberals, and the strongly marginalized (and extremely small, wherever those seven people are) far Left. In other words, to the Far Right, well over half of our society are really little Nazis. And the number would be even greater if one included the large numbers of the remaining thirty five to forty five percent that have been bamboozled by all of the mindnumbing misinformation and rhetoric being passed off as fact and, even, "news" in some instances, to support positions and statements that they have absolutely no idea about.
Is all such talk meaningless? Perhaps not. Former Louisiana Governor and U.S. Senator and Huey Long, while perhaps a bit radical in his depression era ideas of wealth redistribution (although that does not disqualify him from being able to make astute observations), once said; "Fascism will come, in the name of fighting fascism."
Of course, still among the freest nations in the world, we are nowhere close to being a Fascist, or even totalitarian, nation.
But the movement we are slowly witnessing in America, toward a more authoritarian type of governing rule that certainly creeps a bit closer to those repressive norms, has been strongly accompanied by increasing claims by its biggest cheerleaders of how we are facing the threat of Fascism; whether it be in reference to radical extremist Islam fanatics bent upon depraved violence and destruction, or again, more hysterically but less commonly, in reference to mere Moderate Americans as passionate about their right to have and express their differing opinions, as the Far Right -- which likes to pretend and convince itself that it is the new center -- is about theirs.
With respect to Americans that may at worst appear indignantly self righteous about the correctness of their policy views -- a category into which the bulk of mere Liberals do not even consistently fall -- the Nazi term is of course not just outrageous and outlandish, but evinces such a fundamental misunderstanding of just what Democracy is that one wonders if it is but happenstance that it seems to coincide with our slow yet attendant evisceration of Democracy’s basic principles; an evisceration that is being achieved by the policies, governmental processes, and rhetoric, of this same Far Right that so likes to ascribe this term to others.
On the other hand, with respect to the culturally psychotic terrorists that seek to do us all great harm, the Fascism comparison is striking in its naivety. With WMD proliferation, the potential damage that international terrorism could conceivably cause knows almost no bounds. (Exceeded perhaps only by us, potentially, in our overzealous attempt to lash out without actually striking at it, turning countries against us in the process. Or, undermining our own principles internally in response.) It is a grave threat. But it is not Fascism. Yet the idea that it is, and that those who can not see this are themselves bordering on traitorous for their mere stupidity alone, has all but become the new unofficial motto of the Fox political commentary channel and unofficial inspiration for the success of the far Right Wing movement in America today.
The irony here is not yet quite palpable. But it begins to percolate just below the surface, as the roots of what we are becoming are slowly being sewn.
And it will continue to slowly grow, as if by a force seemingly of its own will, if those in Congress don’t rediscover the principles upon which America was based, as well as the need to articulate and adhere to them; if we Democrats and even Moderate Republicans don’t enunciate the messages that need to be conveyed, in a manner that a broad cross section of America, even amidst all the rabble of misinformation and rhetoric, can hear and understand loud and clear; if the media continues to not do its job; and if the increasingly informed blogospheree continues to persist in the belief that it is supplanting media itself as the base source of our societal perceptions, rather than supplementing and in most cases merely reinforcing the base beliefs of that small percentage of us that seek to learn more.
On the flip side of this Godwin's law coin, is of course the inevitable question of comparison of our rather unpopular leader, with that demonic figure Hitler himself. It is of course not just a strained, but almost a cruel comparison, rendered no better by the absurd charges that the far Right seems to levy against most of those who disagree with it; or even, by American standards, the somewhat extremist policies, backed by many in the far Right cabal that continues to largely frame the national debate surrounding many of these same issues, being carried out by his administration.
And in fact, most such comparisons, whether for holding Bush personally liable for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- when it was not directly at our hands but an unintended result of a very poorly prosecuted (and contemplated) policy to free that country from the grip of a tyrannical rule that left a power vacuum in its stead that we were ill equipped to manage; that in fact did so remove a brutal dictator; that was authorized by a majority vote of Congress, and which has been carried out at our expense and with emphasis on protecting Iraqis themselves, and when any conclusions staunchly to the contrary require, at a minimum, highly subjective and often speculative conclusions -- or even other, more fundamentally egregious acts, do, frankly, undermine credibility. People certainly have their right to them. But just as I argue that legislatively labeling the official army of a major foreign sovereign state as a "terrorist" organization undermines our necessary attempts to marginalize sovereignless, international terrorist cells as extreme, pathological, and wholly separate, in the eyes of the world (and whose cooperation we desperately need therein), this kind of seemingly shrill lashing out at our President as if he himself was some malevolent despot purposefully bent upon the destruction of the Iraq people, undermines the legitimacy of claims regarding what this almost radically right wing administration actually has managed to do in its seven short years.
And it brings up a very related question regarding the inevitable, if credibility undermining and somewhat generally outrageous "Hitler" comparison, that is nevertheless relevant.
In fact, this question bears close examination, regarding the path down which we are now traveling as a nation under what has become far right rule posed as moderate. (And which, in a game to accomplish that goal, thrives on labeling everything else around it that does not agree, as "Left," "Far Left," or , as in the case of leading Cheerleader Sean Hannity, simply in with terrorists and despots themselves.)
And it is this: While Bush is certainly no Hitler, and again, such an overall comparison is extreme, the present administration does aggressively mimic Hitler’s essential and in fact underlying claim that defense of the realm entitled him to repeatedly ignore the rule of law.
That claim goes against the very core of this nation’s founding principles, the very core of our Constitution, and the very core of our liberties regarding what we are as a nation.
And the questions it raises -- as even many Democrats and moderate Republicans, seemingly afraid of being mischaracterized as weak so are acting that way instead, and as a half asleep media, as it has in times of other countries’ structural breakdowns, serves as cheerleader rather than an independent check -- are simply not being sufficiently addressed.
Ultimately, we do get the government we deserve. And the lack of willingness to forthrightly address this question -- again amongst our leaders and particularly in the media, without ascribing shrill and irrelevant, and often highly misleading, partisan labels -- is a big part of the reason why we are, currently, getting exactly that.
Most governments do not become repressive because of a maniacal goal, as in the case of Hitler’s Germany. Most become repressive because of good intentions, a belief that unchecked power over people can be and will be handled as if by Angels (our country being founded upon the realistic premise that it can't be, and would not be), and usually some sort of fear or appeal to national chauvinism confused for patriotism. It is usually further enabled by continuing mediocrity and nationalistically parroted rhetoric in mainstream information sources, very similar to what we are seeing today, on the most fundamental of issues
The only way to change this is not just by writing about this continually on here, although it is an important start, but to begin to take proactive efforts to change the terms of the debate, focusing on ways to communicate this with a larger cross section of Americans in an effective, and non partisan appearing way, and to begin, via phone calls, memos, letters, emails and visits, armed with objective information and analysis, to firmly yet politely demand that Congress, and the media both, do its job.