Before I get to my point: Google is racist against Laotians, although the concept of the law wouldn’t really translate, as Southeast Asia has a much different relationship with Hitler than we do.
Here is my point: Godwin’s law must have its outer boundaries; at some point, a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis is well-deserved and appropriate. For the most part, the law works: I have called people Nazis before, and every single time, I was being a glib and stupid asshole. 99% of Hitler-comparisons are facile and belie a pugnacious ignorance of history in the maker. Worldwide, there have been few actual Hitlers since the actual Hitler: Pol Pot, Stalin, whichever Hutu general was in charge in Rwanda. That’s about it. Mao killed tens of millions, but most of them were accidents; and, you know: it’s China, so you can lose a lot of people without even making a dent in the population.
So: when does the comparison become valid? TotD now presents the “Can I Call This Guy Hitler?” checklist:
- Is there a(n intentional) physical resemblance, such as when Michael Jordan grew an unfortunate and inexplicable Hitler mustache, or the lead singer from the Arcade Fire’s haircut? I’m not talking about some poor fellow who just has the same face as Hitler; leave that guy alone; he’s sick of hearing it. (Although if you do look like Hitler, you should shave your head or grow your beard real long.) If you make styling choices that are Hitleresque, then everyone may call you Hitler.
- Is the person an actual Nazi? In the 90’s, they were called Neo-Nazis, and now I believe they have turned into Hyper-Nazis, but you get the picture. Hardcore shows in the basement and swastikas in the living room, that sort of thing. These people may not be called Hitler; here’s why: Hitler–for all his faults–got shit done, whereas today’s Nazis are cash-strapped losers. Hitler was a grand threat, not a minor one. This one’s a no.
- What if a candidate for President–not a sixth-party weirdo; someone from one of the two major parties–cast a specific minority group (or two) as The Enemy, and The Problem? What if he said he was going to round people up? What if he insinuated that certain people could never be true Americans because of their blood? It’s a toss-up, I guess: this is a clearly fictional example. No one who said these kind of things could ever win the nomination. It could never happen here.