Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

n the beginning of the internet back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when you for the first time had large and contentious discussions online at bulletin boards like Usenet, attorney Mike Godwin noticed that the longer a discussion went on, the more likely it was that someone would make a Hitler comparison. Some internet aficionados even declared a thread over when someone evoked the National Socialists of the 1930s. The implication was that such a comparison was always hyperbolic.

The problem with Godwin’s law is that it emerged at a time when we did not expect to have a Neonazi president. Not being able to point to the real similarities of Trump’s White Nationalist discourse with Nazi premises about racial hierarchies would actually be dangerous at this point. And we have seen Mr. Trump defend self-avowed Neonazis and Klansmen at Charlottesville. It is not an optical illusion.

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