In 1990, Mike Godwin came up with what has since become known as Godwin’s Law for the internet: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.”
Over the years this has spawned another truism: “Invoke the Nazis and you’ve lost the argument.”
Some of the opponents who have fiercely opposed COVID-19 health measures over the last year and a half should take heed.
Comparing the pandemic fight to Hitler is not only a perverse defamation of those who suffered and died under that monster, it also doesn’t do their cause any favours.
Unfortunately, the practice has become alarmingly commonplace.
Mask mandates are compared to Nazi atrocities. People protesting vaccine passports wear yellow stars. Any attempt by health authorities to limit the spread of COVID is seen as the same as the unspeakable violence inflicted more than 80 years ago.
We’ve even observed this at The Western Producer.
Kevin Hursh’s column on page 11 of the Sept. 9 issue that urged rural people to get vaccinated immediately prompted an angry email from a reader who referred to a holocaust.
I’ve read charitable pundits argue that anti-vaxxers are only making Nazi references because they see those who died in the Holocaust as the ultimate victims and they’re making the point that they’re victims, too.
I’m not buying that for one minute.
It’s time for all of us to speak out against this nonsense, similar to what Montreal Holocaust Museum spokesperson Sarah Fogg recently told CTV News.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing the use of Holocaust comparisons, analogies and unfortunately the yellow star at anti-COVID vaccine and passport protests for a little while now, and so it’s obviously upsetting, it’s hurtful, it’s offensive,” she said.
“It’s also really historically inaccurate so I think our initial reaction is one of education. We want to make sure that people are aware of what that yellow star really symbolizes, and how this is not the time to be making comparisons to the Holocaust.”
David Frum said it more pithily in a recent tweet.
“The vaccine passport is exactly like the Nazi yellow star — if the Nazi yellow star meant that the recipients had received life-saving medicine at no cost to themselves and with maybe some free lottery tickets as a side bonus.”