I wrote a piece last night drawing some comparisons between Obama and Hitler. Not comparisons which deal with their goals, but comparisons with regards to how effective a charismatic person can be when playing to the masses.
Asking a mentor of mine for advice on the subject, he pointed out something called the “Godwin Rule”. Never hearing of it, I looked it up. Here is the Wikipedia definition:
Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
References to Godwin’s Law often actually refer to a corollary of it which determines that the person who first makes an unwarranted reference to Nazi Germany or Hitler in an argument loses that argument automatically.
Godwin’s Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the reductio ad Hitlerum form.
The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that one arising is increasingly probable. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. Although in one of its early forms Godwin’s Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads and wiki talk pages.
It seems a proper rule to adhere to. How many times have we heard over the past 8 years the use of Nazi and Hitler references to improperly describe George Bush and his policies. These comparisons have done nothing but to diminish the true nature of Hitler and Nazi history.
Which brings me to my quandary.
While I believe a distinction can be made between the two men and their ambitions, in particular drawing comparisons to thier styles and circumstances without comparing the desired outcome of the two, I decided to follow the advice of my friend and not publish it.
It was a hard choice. I really wanted to. I felt a proper point was made in a way in which both subjects could be determined to be separate from eachother, while retaining an overall commonality to the broader sense.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting.
Another lesson learned.