# Nazi analogies

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 “” I wonder if there will come a time when Nazis will become primarily known for the ridiculous analogies people make using them and not genocide. —rupucis[1]

Nazi analogies are fallacies that use the extremely negative perception that Hitler and National Socialism (Nazism) have in the modern world to boost someone's opinions.

• Reductio ad Hitlerum is, basically, the premise that "everything Hitler supported must be bad and everything Hitler was against must be good". Hitler's opinions serve as the sole parameter to judge something's desirability or morality. The reason this is idiotic is because Hitler wore pants, so by this logic wearing pants makes you a fascist.
• Godwin’s Law, itself a response to reductio ad Hitlerum, asserts that the longer an online discussion grows, the greater are the odds of someone mentioning Hitler or the Nazis. It is something you can verify by yourself and that demonstrates how common such analogies are.

Those are also known by other names, such as argumentum ad Nazium (a pun on argumentum ad nauseam) or "playing the Hitler/Nazi Card".

## Origins

Mike Godwin in 2017
 “”‘Who was it that said: "Whenver[sic] somebody starts mentioning Nazis on USENET, you know the discussion has gone on too long"?'.. I said it. Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies: As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. —Michael Godwin in 1991, one of the earliest invocations[2]

Reductio ad Hitlerum was coined in 1951 by neoconservative progenitor Leo Strauss,[3][4]:42-43

 “”Unfortunately, it does not go without saying that in our examination we must avoid the fallacy that the last decades has frequently been used as a substitute for the reductio ad absurdum: the reductio ad Hitlerum. A view that is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Hitler.

Godwin's Law was formulated by attorney Mike Godwin, former general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, in the 1990s, and states:[5]

 “”As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

## How it works

Everyone I Don't Like is Hitler: If only we hadn't all grown up with this book.
 “”It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except there's just one degree, and Kevin Bacon is Hitler! —Lewis Black[6]:105

When a Hitler or Nazi comparison is made, it may be an extended analogy fallacy.[7]

P1: Hitler's final solution would have put an end to overpopulation.
P2: Person X wants to use birth control to solve the problem of overpopulation.
C: Therefore person X is like Hitler.

Or it could be an ad hominem attack such as saying, "You are just like Hitler and therefore whatever you are arguing for is wrong," without having any reasoning behind how this conclusion was reached.

Godwin's Law does not dispute the validity or otherwise of references or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis. As such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate in a discussion, Godwin has argued that overuse of the Nazi comparison should be avoided as it waters down the impact of any valid usage. In its purest sense, the rule has more to do with completely losing one's sense of proportion rather than just mentioning Nazis specifically.[8][9] The law was initiated as a counter-meme to flippant comparisons to the Nazis, rather than to invoke a complete ban on comparisons. As Godwin himself wrote in 2008:

When I saw the photographs from Abu Ghraib, for example, I understood instantly the connection between the humiliations inflicted there and the ones the Nazis imposed upon death camp inmates — but I am the one person in the world least able to draw attention to that valid comparison.[10]

Additionally, Godwin made an appearance in Glenn Greenwald's Salon comments section in 2010 to confirm, as Greenwald put it in a column titled The odiousness of the distorted Godwin's Law:

Godwin himself appears in comments (authenticity confirmed via email) to explain that his "law" sought to discourage frivolous, but not substantive, Nazi analogies and comparisons.[11]

Godwin said in 2017 that it's OK to call the alt-right Nazis, because many of them use Nazi symbols and express support for Nazi ideology.[12] He wrote in 2016:

To be clear: I don't personally believe all rational discourse has ended when Nazis or the Holocaust are invoked. … But I'm pleased that people still use Godwin's Law to force one another to argue more thoughtfully.[12]

With the increase in the number of media for online discussion, Godwin's Law is now applied to any online discussion — be they mailing lists, message boards, forums, chat rooms, blog comment threads, or wiki talk pages.

Traditionally in many Internet discussion forums, it is the rule that once such a comparison is made, the discussion is effectively finished and whoever mentioned Hitler or the Nazis has automatically lost the debate, though it is considered sort-of acceptable if one immediately says "Pardon me for invoking Godwin's Law." The blogosphere has only heightened the prevalence of Godwin's Law, with Nazi references being dropped across the political spectrum, such as the liberal Daily Kos, right-wing religious strongholds such as Bill Donohue's Catholic League, and intelligent design advocates like the Discovery Institute.

Compared to other known blog-based laws, namely Poe's Law, Godwin's Law is quite well known in more mainstream areas.[13] Just to prove it, the law even has its own Wikipedia article. In 2012 it was added to the Oxford Dictionary,[14] which means that in 500 years' time it will be reviewed by completely mystified college arts majors.

## Schizofascism

Historian Timothy Snyder has coined the word 'schizofascism' to refer to actual fascists who make Nazi analogies against other people.[15]:145 As an example, fascist Russian politician Aleksandr Dugin has blamed Ukrainian Jews for the Holocaust.[15]:145

Russian propaganda has used schizofascism extensively during the 2014 invasion of Crimea, the Russian-sponsored coup attempts in Ukraine, and the Russian-backed insurrection in eastern Ukraine.[15]:145-148 During this time Russian President Vladimir Putin, head of a regime labeled as crypto-fascist,[16] defined Ukrainian opponents of Russian incursions as fascists.[15]:147 In February 2022 Putin called for the "de-nazification" of Ukraine,[17] just prior to the “special military operation” full-scale invasion of Ukraine in March 2022 in which Putin gave de-nazification as a justification for his war of aggression despite Ukraine's democratically-elected president (Volodymyr Zelenskyy) being ethnically Jewish.[18] Lavrov went further stating, "I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. [That Zelensky is Jewish] means absolutely nothing. Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews."[19]

Further, writer and antisemite Alexander Prokhanov compared Russia's failed 2014 coup in Odessa, Ukraine to the Holocaust.[15]:170,184-185 Alexander Zaldostanov, leader of the Night Wolves motorcycle-gang, made similar pronouncements at the same rally as Prokhanov.[15]:184-186 Vladimir Antyufeyev, who has been in leadership positions in self-declared fascistic puppet-states within Moldova (Transnistria, founded in 1990/1991) and within Ukraine (Donetsk People's Republic, founded in 2014), claimed that Russia was at war with fascists who were aligned with an international Freemason conspiracy.[15]:175

Ginni Thomas, wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas while herself plotting to overturn a democratic election referred to the "fascist left" and "transsexual fascists".[20]

"Schizofascism is an example of what philosopher Jason Stanley calls 'undermining propaganda': using a concept to destroy that concept. Here anti-fascism is being used to destroy anti-fascism."[21]:315-316 The intent of the undermining propaganda is generally in the furtherance of fake news.[citation needed]

## Stormfront and other corollaries

 “”This is exactly how Nazi Germany was started! A bunch of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble! —John Cleese as Basil Fawlty[22]

A number of corollaries have been proposed since the introduction of Godwin's Law.

In a hilarious instance of cosmic symmetry, a similar law applies to neo-Nazi boards such as Stormfront: as the discussion grows longer, the probability of someone calling their opponent a Jew approaches one. (For another version, replace Stormfront with Conservapedia and Jew with liberal.)

Another example of a corollary, and an early example, is called "Sircar's Corollary," which is: "If the Usenet discussion touches on homosexuality or Heinlein, Nazis or Hitler are mentioned within three days.”'[9]

Another corollary was proposed by "Buddy Larson" in the comments to a post by the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog (alleging that gun control caused Kristallnacht) in November 2010:

As an online discussion of an original post concerning Nazis or Hitler grows, the probability of observing a laboured and unwarranted retreat or appeal to Godwin's Law (of laboured, unwarranted retreat to Nazi or Hitler references) approaches one.[23]

A corollary for feminists is:

As an online discussion about sexism continues, the probability of a woman who speaks out being called a feminazi approaches 1.[24]

## Other versions

A number of different Internet laws have been proposed which basically mirror Godwin. Arken's Law states:[25]

 “”A discussion is over when present society is compared to George Orwell's Oceania in the book 1984.

The exact history of Arken's Law is debatable,[note 1] but it is claimed that Arken's Law has its roots in the days of HTML 1.0 and earlier (such as Usenet). Any accusations of Big Brotherism, utilizing newspeak, practicing doublethink, thought policing, sending updates down the memory hole or belonging to the Anti-Sex League would all be invocations of Arken's Law.

Researchers from the University College London attempted to formulate reductio ad Hitlerum into a Bayesian framework, presenting evidence that this is pretty much exactly how people processed the argument:[26]

${\displaystyle P(good|Hitler)={\frac {P(good)P(Hitler|good)}{P(Hitler)}}}$

Before Hitler was a thing, the typical point of comparison for worst person in the world appears to have been the Pharaoh of the Biblical book of Exodus (his identity is uncertain, and he may be fictional, which makes it a weaker rhetorical comparison), although the likes of Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Oliver Cromwell (for the Irish), Napoleon Bonaparte, and King George III (for Americans), were occasional references.[27] Calling something medieval also seemed to work. However, those don't seem to have been used in an earlier version of Godwin's Law, possibly because the internet did not exist.

## Evil Nazi things

Because the Nazis were eclectic and often self-contradictory, this is a long list of things which, by the logic of reductio ad Hitlerum, the Nazis were in favor of and which are therefore evil:

## Overlap with Holocaust denial

See the main article on this topic: Holocaust denial

Inappropriate Nazi analogies can have the effect of downplaying the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity of the Third Reich. This is particularly the case when the thing being compared to the Holocaust is not only less bad than the Holocaust but entirely unobjectionable.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many anti-vaccine protesters have taken to wearing yellow stars to protest vaccine mandates. Antivaxx leader Del Bigtree started doing this before the pandemic.[49] As international relations scholar Nicholas Grossman has pointed out, “This is a warped form of Holocaust denial. … [T]he core point, charitably interpreted, is that the Holocaust was public pressure in response to a voluntary choice, when it was actually the industrialized mass murder of millions just for who they were.”[50]

## Criticisms

Some, such as author Robert J. Sawyer, have criticized Godwin's Law for implying the Holocaust was sui generis, a unique event that can never happen again. Consequently, he argues, people will be reluctant to issue comparisons for future situations until it is too late, and even if they try, Godwin's Law will be used to falsely shoot them down.[51]

## The opposite

A reverse effect happens when people's views or actions are compared to those of well-known sages or heroes, such as Einstein, Lincoln, etc. The basic idea is that "if you think or do like them, you will be like them". And just like Hitler, they are often the authors of false quotes or the subjects of spurious stories.

While both Hitler[52][53] and Einstein[54][55] adopted a vegetarian diet at some point of their lives, two distinct pieces of information that are conveniently brought up by both proponents and critics of vegetarianism in separate occasions when they see fit, this hardly means you will be as bad as Hitler or as intelligent as Einstein only because you don't eat meat.