Godwin‘s Law Revisited

Godwin‘s Law is a sociological observation saying that every online discussion about politics will eventually lead to someone comparing someone else to Hitler. I have seen soooo many examples of this in the last few days, after Donald Trump won the US election.

There are several corollaries to Godwin’s law: One is that any discussion which reaches a comparison to Hitler is over at that point, and the person making the Hitler comparison loses the argument. And then there is the counterpoint that not all Hitler comparisons are ridiculous, and you can very well learn from historical parallels. That’s true, but unfortunately the depth of internet Hitler arguments is usually as deep as “Hitler was democratically elected” (which is true, but only part of the story).

Obama has actually killed a lot of people with his drone strikes, but nowhere near Hitler’s numbers of course, who de-populated eastern Europe in an unprecedented campaign of hate and murder. Trump has not killed anyone, just cheated some folks, and stoked xenophobic fears for the sake of gaining votes. Not nice at all, but lots of politicians do that, and it does not make you Hitler II. Both comparisons are completely ludicrous and inappropriate.

A quick Google search gives about 56,900,000 results for “Hitler Obama” and 29,000,000 for “Hitler Trump”. There are also some not very well done pieces of digital art to drive home the point.

trumphobamah

Given that Obama has been roughly demonized since 2007, and Trump for only about a year, that gives us estimated values of 6.32 and 29 10^6 InternetHitlers per year (MiH y-1) for Obama and Trump, respectively. What do these values tell us?

That a lot of people using the internet have rather shallow historical knowledge, or argue very lazy.

So, as someone who was born in the same country as Hitler (and who had to listen to quite some teasing due to that fact), I plead: Please please please stop these cringe-worthy comparisons. Now.

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