look! nazis!25 Jun 2005
Nathan Newman has a knack for saying what I would say, were I not too lazy/busy to address issues like this Durbin thing that are generally so idiotic I can’t work up the motivation. He has some good commentary on why using the Nazis as a metaphorical basis for comparison of “evil” (for lack of a better word) is perfectly legitimate:
There is a simple reason why people jump to compare authoritarian and violent repression by any group to Nazi actions: it’s a non-contested standard of evil action that people instantly understand. Imagine if Durbin had said the American torture sounded like that of Mengistu’s regime in Ethiopia or General Ríos Montt’s in Guatamala’s. Most Americans wouldn’t even get the reference.
We live in a pluralistic culture that often lacks strong shared metaphors of evil. The Nazis are one of those few touchstones of shared understanding of evil and it would deny our language a strong metaphor to label actions so evil to deny its use. Which is really the point of the attack on Durbin: to normalize abuse and torture by US forces as a morally agnostic tool.
I have written about this before, with reference to the misapplication of Godwin’s Law:
Is invoking Godwin’s Law appropriate here? No. When discussing the call to war and making a case for the fervent nationalism, propagandizing, and racist rhetoric that has led us there, a parallel to the rise of Nazism is pretty fucking appropriate. I think the lessons we learned from World War II and Hitler’s reign of terror are a little too important to be excluded from discussion because of some stupid law about USENET trolling. Don’t be an idiot.