hitler image

Hitler is done. It’s over. Let it go.

This corner of the internet exists solely to tell you – YES YOU, Mr. or Mrs. I-just-used-Hitler/Nazis-in-my-argument-so-there – that you’re pathetic. You could do so much better. You could do Stalin. You could do Pol Pot. You could do Mussolini. You could do Mobutu Sese Seko. Any nominal non-Nazi, anyone but Adolf. It’s been 70 years since he died. Find a new piñata to flog, already, writers and politicians.

This goes beyond Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law merely states that the longer any internet-based argument goes on, the probability of someone bringing up the subject of Hitler/Nazis increases to 100%. That’s not so bad. This is Smith-Rowsey’s Law: if you bring up Hitler/Nazis, you’ve already lost the argument. Because if your level of thinking is that un-creative, you must not be able to grasp the nuances of domestic and foreign policy arguments. Oh sure, like a broken clock, you might be right twice a day, you may even be right that so-and-so resembles Der Fuhrer. But you still sound like my three-year-old, who, when I tell him he has to do something, he repeats, “but I don’t want to.” He may technically be right, but he has still lost the argument.

None of this is to excuse the horrific, epoch-shattering crimes committed by Hitler and the Nazis. Yes, those were some of the worst things ever to happen. Which is one reason that you, invoking them, look like Chicken Little discussing the relationship of the sky to gravity. In fact, there’s just about no case you can make with Nazis that you couldn’t make better with reference to another group.

To invoke Hitler as your one-and-only window on comparing the rest of the world to America is a little bit like traveling once a year, for 20 years, only to Paris, when you might have gone anywhere. Sure, Paris is superlative. But here’s you, who could have gone anywhere, settling for the same thing time after time. In this metaphor, all the people who can’t afford to go to Paris are comparable to all the people who don’t have writer jobs or outsized influence. They look at you as an example of how to expand horizons. Instead, you give them the same old-same old. Your only window on the world is in the shape of a swaztika.

Your argument tends to rest on one of two historical fallacies. 1) We recognized the evil of Hitler and stopped him, so we should recognize the evil of _____ and stop him too. But see, we didn’t really recognize the evil of Hitler; as late as November 1940, long after Hitler had rounded up Jews into ghettos, annexed most of Eastern Europe, and blitzed London, Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected on a promise to keep us out of that war. We didn’t know about the concentration camps until the war was over. 2) We didn’t recognize the evil of Hitler in time to stop him, so we should recognize the evil of _____ and stop him this time. But there have been dozens of leaders who have made Hitler-like moves before and since, and none of them had the power of German industry. Hitler and the Nazis were a singular phenomenon, and comparisons tend to obscure at least as often as they illuminate. Thus, you might instead deploy Mao Tse-Tung or Robert Mugabe or something else to show how well your arguments really hold up, instead of deploying the one boogeyman you figure can still scare people.

And the worst of it is: you’re a writer. You, person who just used Nazis/Hitler in an argument that all your followers just read. If you’re a politician, you know you’re always insisting on taking writing credit for things that your legislative aides have written. If you’re an actor or other kind of performer, you’re telling me that your imdb page (or whatever) doesn’t have any writing credits? PLEASE. You’re a writer. Your job is to re-purpose old ideas in exciting new ways, not to ring a bell that’s been ringing for seven decades.

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a master chef using white bread in a gourmet dish. It’s not that it’s going to poison anyone, it’s just stultifyingly boring.

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a musician doing a “bridge solo” on a triangle. No, not a theremin or timpani, those are cool. I’m talking about a triangle, the least interesting instrument on the planet. No matter how many ways you ping it, the sounds never rise to the level of sublime.

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a fashion designer wearing a light-blue-collared shirt and khakis – you know, the old uniform for every Blockbuster employee. No I am not saying Blockbuster employees resembled Nazis (they didn’t). I am saying that a writer using Nazi comparisons is making the least creative choice possible.

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a zookeeper showing off a yellow Labrador. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with an adorable yellow lab, but you sort of expect that a zookeeper can open our eyes to something that would change our point of view.

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a barista making a peppermint mocha for themselves to drink. I mean, sure, but couldn’t they do just a little better?

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a male Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officer asking his attractive twenty-something administrative assistant if she’d like to get a little drink after work today. Really? I mean, you have heard the word cliché before, right?

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a tech specialist telling you to solve your computer’s problem by turning it off and back on again. Perhaps it’s a bit like his/her supervisor, a tech guru, unveiling a PowerPoint presentation with no “effect” slides, no embedded media. Really? You know, there’s a reason Steve Jobs hated PowerPoint, and he’s hating your presentation from the grave.

A writer using Hitler/Nazi metaphors is like a horticulturalist giving you a beautiful Christmas gift of…a fern. Okay, ferns are fine. I mean, they’re all right. You just sort of thought that someone who grows plants for a living might have more of an imagination.

Just stop it already. Give it up. Free yourself from Nazi comparisons, and notice how much more sense you’re already making.

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