Author Topic: Godwin on Godwin's Law  (Read 1231 times)

Michael Slusser

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Godwin on Godwin's Law
« on: June 28, 2018, 10:43:21 AM »
A search of the ALPB Your Turn shows 30 references to Godwin's Law in the past five years. Today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Mike Godwin considers the question, "Does Godwin’s Law need to be updated? Repealed? I get asked this question from time to time because I’m the guy who came up with the law more than a quarter century ago."
http://www.startribune.com/is-it-time-to-reconsider-godwin-s-law-on-nazi-comparisons/486745301/

His closing paragraph:
By all means cite GL if you think some Nazi comparison is baseless or hyperbolic. But Godwin’s Law was never meant to block us from challenging the institutionalization of cruelty or the callousness of officials who claim to be just following the law. It definitely wasn’t meant to shield our leaders from being slammed for the current fashion of pitching falsehoods as fact. These behaviors, distressing as they are, may not yet add up to a new Reich, but please forgive me for worrying that they’re the “embryonic form” of a horror we hoped we had put behind us.

Peace,
Michael
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Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2018, 10:47:23 AM »
It's not surprising that Godwin would follow Godwin's Law.   ;)
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Michael Slusser

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2018, 11:35:18 AM »
It's not surprising that Godwin would follow Godwin's Law.   ;)
Godwin in this column points out that, while moving to comparisons with Hitler or Nazism can be a lazy substitute for rigorous analysis and argument, invoking Godwin's Law can be equally lazy.

Neither you nor I has invoked Godwin's Law on this board as a way of dismissing someone else's argument, if the Search function can be trusted.

Peace,
Michael
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David Garner

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2018, 12:18:05 PM »
You know who else shielded leaders from being slammed?

Hitler.

I'll just show myself out.
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MaddogLutheran

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2018, 01:41:38 PM »
I have found it more useful to read Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism.  Yes, believe it or not, I'm only just reading it for the first time.

His most cogent observation:  you cannot say it can't happen here, because it already has.  But we chose not to teach that in our public education, for reasons that become obvious when you find out what has already happened, and who was responsible for it.

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« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 02:01:02 PM by MaddogLutheran »
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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2018, 02:13:07 PM »
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Dan Fienen

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2018, 02:14:06 PM »
Another good book is Modern Fascism: The Threat to the Judeao-Christian View by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.
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MaddogLutheran

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2018, 02:37:26 PM »
Another good book is Modern Fascism: The Threat to the Judeao-Christian View by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.
That's the interesting thing about all this.  Progressivism had a strong Christian streak to it, with its ties to temperance and suffragette movements, and it's Calvinistic desire to bring God's kingdom to this world.  But then it evolved into the 1960's liberalism, where God was replaced by worship of the state, and traditional religion became a dangerous competitor which had to be eliminated.  Replacing one God with another, one morality with another.

The dirty secret of turn of the 20th century progressivism is that it spoke favorably of fascism and often the movements exchanged ideas and tactics, back when fascism was viewed as the future of human societal ordering, with liberal democracy viewed as a tired failure.  The idea that individualism was selfish and inevitably led to bad outcomes so that people should (made to) be thinking first of the collective good is not new or exclusive to communism.  Even though I learned the phrase in school, I was never taught the depth of meaning behind Warren Harding's "return to normalcy".  Far more than just the uncertainty of the Great War, it was a repudiation of the reordering of American society that the war had made possible, the original crisis opportunity not to be wasted.  But voters were not interested in continuing it, fortunately.

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« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 02:40:13 PM by MaddogLutheran »
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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2018, 02:55:05 PM »
It's not surprising that Godwin would follow Godwin's Law.   ;)
Godwin in this column points out that, while moving to comparisons with Hitler or Nazism can be a lazy substitute for rigorous analysis and argument, invoking Godwin's Law can be equally lazy.

Neither you nor I has invoked Godwin's Law on this board as a way of dismissing someone else's argument, if the Search function can be trusted.

Peace,
Michael
Having had the chance to read the column you posted, I can share I take great offense at his invocation.  What is happening at the border is nothing like Nazism.  A fair definition of Nazism = fascism + Holocaust.  We are not exterminating people let alone putting them in concentration camps.  Unless we want to say that every refugee camp in the world is also one.  Just because the United States is a "rich" country doesn't mean anything short of housing refugees in a Holiday Inn Express is the moral equivalent of Dachau.  Refugees are being housed in temporary locations because the influx is overwhelming, not because of any inherent racism, just like during the last administration's border crisis.

If comparing someone to a Nazi has been so dumbed down as to mean they inflexibly follow political orders that are morally questionable, that hollows out the horror that was Nazi Germany.  But then, I guess that is the point of invoking Godwin's law in the first place.  :-\

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Michael Slusser

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2018, 03:02:43 PM »
Having had the chance to read the column you posted, I can share I take great offense at his invocation.  What is happening at the border is nothing like Nazism.  A fair definition of Nazism = fascism + Holocaust.  We are not exterminating people let alone putting them in concentration camps.  Unless we want to say that every refugee camp in the world is also one.  Just because the United States is a "rich" country doesn't mean anything short of housing refugees in a Holiday Inn Express is the moral equivalent of Dachau.  Refugees are being housed in temporary locations because the influx is overwhelming, not because of any inherent racism, just like during the last administration's border crisis.

If comparing someone to a Nazi has been so dumbed down as to mean they inflexibly follow political orders that are morally questionable, that hollows out the horror that was Nazi Germany.  But then, I guess that is the point of invoking Godwin's law in the first place.  :-\

Sterling Spatz
Godwin, in the column we're discussing, says,
Most recently, GL has been invoked in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy that resulted in the traumatic separation of would-be immigrants from their children, many of whom are now warehoused in tent cities or the occasional repurposed Walmart.

The response has been predictable: Debate for some people has been derailed by the trivial objection that, even if it is terrible to separate children from their parents, it’s not as awful as what the Nazis did. Or as bad as the slave trade. Or as bad as what the expansion of the U.S. westward did to American Indians. . . .

Take the argument that our treatment of those seeking asylum at our border, including children, is not as monstrous as institutionalized genocide. That may be true, but it’s not what you’d call a compelling defense.

The seeds of future horrors are sometimes visible in the first steps a government takes toward institutionalizing cruelty.


Peace,
Michael
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DCharlton

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2018, 03:16:58 PM »
I take it, then, that it's fair play to compare Iceland's and Denmark's use of abortion to eliminate Down's Syndrome people with Nazi Germany's euthanizing of disabled and mentally ill people. 
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 03:18:49 PM by DCharlton »
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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2018, 03:20:08 PM »
Having had the chance to read the column you posted, I can share I take great offense at his invocation.  What is happening at the border is nothing like Nazism.  A fair definition of Nazism = fascism + Holocaust.  We are not exterminating people let alone putting them in concentration camps.  Unless we want to say that every refugee camp in the world is also one.  Just because the United States is a "rich" country doesn't mean anything short of housing refugees in a Holiday Inn Express is the moral equivalent of Dachau.  Refugees are being housed in temporary locations because the influx is overwhelming, not because of any inherent racism, just like during the last administration's border crisis.

If comparing someone to a Nazi has been so dumbed down as to mean they inflexibly follow political orders that are morally questionable, that hollows out the horror that was Nazi Germany.  But then, I guess that is the point of invoking Godwin's law in the first place.  :-\

Sterling Spatz
Godwin, in the column we're discussing, says,
Most recently, GL has been invoked in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy that resulted in the traumatic separation of would-be immigrants from their children, many of whom are now warehoused in tent cities or the occasional repurposed Walmart.

The response has been predictable: Debate for some people has been derailed by the trivial objection that, even if it is terrible to separate children from their parents, it’s not as awful as what the Nazis did. Or as bad as the slave trade. Or as bad as what the expansion of the U.S. westward did to American Indians. . . .

Take the argument that our treatment of those seeking asylum at our border, including children, is not as monstrous as institutionalized genocide. That may be true, but it’s not what you’d call a compelling defense.

The seeds of future horrors are sometimes visible in the first steps a government takes toward institutionalizing cruelty.


Peace,
Michael
Thanks for highlighting that, because that's exactly what I find objectionable.  Because it is most certainly true that none of those things are as monstrous as institutional genocide, and to suggest that they are the first steps down that path is obscene.  Just as obscene as comparing Japanese-American internment during World War II with Trump's immigration executive order.  It makes no sense to compare something heinous to something less benign.  Yet Godwin seems to be demanding just that.  Are you as well, Father Michael?

As I wrote previously, nobody was interesting in making similar comparisons in 2014, when the Obama administration allowed federal agencies to put refugees in cages.  This is not a defense of that, or Trump today.  I object when people make useful objections to further their tribe.  The Obama fanboys on twitter who mistakenly posted pictures of refugees in cages from 2014 as examples of current Trump policy today but embarrassingly had to backtrack yet stuck to their narrative.  If I had known about that in 2014 I might have objected, but since I never saw it reported, I was unaware.  Funny that.

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2018, 03:22:00 PM »
Having had the chance to read the column you posted, I can share I take great offense at his invocation.  What is happening at the border is nothing like Nazism.  A fair definition of Nazism = fascism + Holocaust.  We are not exterminating people let alone putting them in concentration camps.  Unless we want to say that every refugee camp in the world is also one.  Just because the United States is a "rich" country doesn't mean anything short of housing refugees in a Holiday Inn Express is the moral equivalent of Dachau.  Refugees are being housed in temporary locations because the influx is overwhelming, not because of any inherent racism, just like during the last administration's border crisis.

If comparing someone to a Nazi has been so dumbed down as to mean they inflexibly follow political orders that are morally questionable, that hollows out the horror that was Nazi Germany.  But then, I guess that is the point of invoking Godwin's law in the first place.  :-\

Sterling Spatz
Godwin, in the column we're discussing, says,
Most recently, GL has been invoked in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy that resulted in the traumatic separation of would-be immigrants from their children, many of whom are now warehoused in tent cities or the occasional repurposed Walmart.

The response has been predictable: Debate for some people has been derailed by the trivial objection that, even if it is terrible to separate children from their parents, it’s not as awful as what the Nazis did. Or as bad as the slave trade. Or as bad as what the expansion of the U.S. westward did to American Indians. . . .

Take the argument that our treatment of those seeking asylum at our border, including children, is not as monstrous as institutionalized genocide. That may be true, but it’s not what you’d call a compelling defense.

The seeds of future horrors are sometimes visible in the first steps a government takes toward institutionalizing cruelty.


Peace,
Michael


While I agree that we should absolutely find a way to keep these families together, Godwin’s column is dishonest. The government did not separate families that sought asylum at our border.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2018, 03:50:21 PM »
If we are supposed to start comparing the detention of asylum seekers sneaking into the US to the internment camps during WW II for Japanese Americans, let’s get a realistic picture of what those camps were like.  Let’s also compare those to the camps run by the Japanese during WW II for POWs and civilians.  Similarly the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and the Gulags of Stalin.  The policy of separating families was not good, but to say it’s the same as these others is excessive and demeans the suffering of those other horrors and cheapens the complaints of current detainees.  If suffering must be like the victims of the Nazis or Soviets to be noticed, where does that leave those who suffer, but suffer less. 


It reminds me of those who complain that Christians are being persecuted in the US.  I agree that as counter-cultural we at times have hardships and have reason to stick up for our rights.  But let’s maintain a sense of proportion.  Compared to the persecution that Christians face in the Middle East and places in Africa, we are much less bad off.
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Charles Austin

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Re: Godwin on Godwin's Law
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2018, 04:35:33 PM »
Well, there I agree with you, Pastor Fienen! The concentration camps we run and have run in the past were a lot better than those run by the Germans or Japanese or Russians. Some of ours might even get three or four stars.
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