Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Hitler Card

In almost every heated debate somebody inevitably plays the Hitler Card.

What is the Hitler Card? This is associating your opponent's position with either Hitler or the Nazis, and basically claiming guilt by association.

This is basically seen as a last resort or a dirty trick to use in an argument, as associations made to Hitler are often factually incorrect, or are insufficient to discredit an idea.

Frequent uses of the Hitler Card appear during debates on topics such as atheism, evolution, abortion, and eugenics.

The association with atheism, as I have said in previous blogs, is a false one because Hitler was clearly not an atheist. He believed in a higher power. It may not have been your higher power, but it is enough for him to be defined as a theist.

Other uses may be ineffective because mere association is not enough to discredit an idea.


Hitler is responsible for the Volkswagen.
Therefore, Volkswagens are evil.

Hitler liked to paint.
Therefore, painting is evil.

Hitler had a mustache.
Therefore, mustaches are evil.

The Hitler card is often employed as a dirty trick used to incite emotions about a terrible time in the past. It is often over- or mis- used, specifically when an opponent wants to distract or anger their opponent.

Some of the most recent uses of the Hitler Card that I have noticed:

Ben Stein associating scientists and evolution with the Nazis in the film Expelled and claiming that science leads you to killing people. Hitler used science, science must be evil!

Fox News and many other media outlets repeatedly trying to associate Obama with Hitler. One example has been by claiming the Victory Column in Berlin is associated with Hitler and was a bad choice for Obama's Berlin speech. I challenge them to find a place in Berlin that is not associated with Hitler!

Or associating Obama with Hitler because his speeches draw large crowds (200,000 in Berlin last Thursday). Yeah, being a good orator must be bad, because Hitler was a good orator!

Another dirty trick employed by Ann Coulter is associating Obama with Saddam Hussein by repeatedly using his middle name. Same idea, different evil dictator.

So let's all lay off the Hitler Card, folks. It's ridiculous and over-used. Don't always fall for it, and let's stop abusing it and come up with some better arguments.

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Fairlyodddmother said...

Godwin's law
From Wikipedia

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies)[1] is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states:[2][3]

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a caution against the use of inflammatory rhetoric or exaggerated comparisons, and is often conflated with fallacious arguments of the reductio ad Hitlerum form.

The rule does not state whether any reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the probability of such a reference increases over time. It is precisely because such a comparison may sometimes be appropriate that Godwin has argued[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

DB said...

Good post. I think it is amazing how simple they make Hitler seem by comparing him to relatively minor things. Any reference of Obama to Hitler seems to forget how horrible Hitler was. Obama on his worst day could not hold a hair to what Hitler did. It just makes the person talking sound ignorant. Which is usually the case anyways.