Godwin’s Law is, roughly, that as a political discussion proceeds, the likelihood of an analogy to Hitler increases. Long discussions have it as a relative certainty that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Mussolini references will not only happen but perhaps multiply. (We’ve done a number of bits on Godwining here at the NS. I’ve tried a reconstruction of the argument form here.)
Enter our favorite Orange Furher-analogue and the variety of ways folks have made the argument. There’s the nationalism, the militarism, the authoritarian style, threatening the free press, the racism. And there’s the fact that even his supporters holler out ‘Heil Trump.’ So much to work with!
It’s worth paying attention to a small difference in argument criticism here — you can criticize an argument against some claim or individual without really defending the claim or person. That is, you don’t have to be a Trump sympathizer to think that some analogies between him and Hitler are off base. You’ve just got to think that this analogy isn’t quite right. (See John’s older post about how to evade in these lights.)
David Harsanyi at NRO has a bit of argument criticism with the wide phenomenon Godwining/Ad Hitlering with our Great Orange Leader. He has one line of argument that there are bad consequences to the overuse of Ad Hitlerum:
Comparing everything to 1933 is now a big part of our national discourse, not only that of angry partisans but also that of people who should know better than to habitually make these correlations. This isn’t Mel Brooks’s Springtime for Hitler. Whether you’re a fan or a detractor of Trump, these gross false equivalencies belittle the memory of millions who died in unimaginably horrifying ways. Moreover, exaggeration and historical illiteracy undermine the very cause these people claim to care about, unless that cause is desensitizing people to the terror of the Holocaust.
Well, we have to note that the argument here depends on the analogies being false. So the main line of argument, then, depends on the case that there are relevant dissimiliarities between Trump and Hitler. Here’s how Harsanyi breaks the analogies when they come to deportation:
[E]ven if the authorities . . . were to start deporting illegal immigrants, not one of those unfortunate people would ever be sent to anything resembling the ovens of Treblinka and Auschwitz. Not their children. Not anyone else in this country. Most often, in fact, deported illegal immigrants, who have broken the law, are going back to their home in Mexico, where they can often apply for legal entry into the United States.