When making Nazi analogies is not Reich

trumphitler

“Cancel culture doesn’t exist”, exhibit 56,823:

Gina Carano will not be returning to The Mandalorian or the Star Wars galaxy after sharing a post on social media implying that being a Republican today is like being Jewish during the Holocaust.

“Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson said in a statement. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

I don’t care about Disney, Star Wars or The Mandalorian, and I couldn’t tell Gina Carano from a bag of potatoes, but baby Yoda wept! Nazis get invoked rhetorically all the time, so surely that’s not a firing offence per se. What has happened here is that Carano is bring punished for an Unauthorised Nazi Invocation. This is different from the Godwin’s Law, which posits that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”, or its subsequent companion rule that the first person to mention Nazis in a debate (usually of a political nature) loses that debate. Coincidentally, Mike Goodwin himself disagrees with the latter development, writing five years ago apropos of you know who: “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.”

So what did Carano actually write? Was she, as a Lucasfilm spokesperson said, “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities”?

In a now deleted Instagram post, Carano seems to have been quoting another account, Warrior Priest Gym & Podcast, to the effect that:

Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors… even by children.

Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?

OK, comparing anything to the Holocaust – except another genocide – is rather questionable and often in poor taste (such as PETA comparing it to slaughter of animals), and so, strictly speaking, does constitute “denigrating” (defined as “saying that someone or something is not important”) in that it lessens and trivialises the full horror of the Shoah. But did Carano’s post really implied “that being a Republican today is like being Jewish during the Holocaust”, as Hollywood Reporter frames it?

That seems to be a gross over-simplification.

Whoever is the original author of the words quoted above rather inelegantly makes a valid observation about the Third Reich – as well as many other episodes in history. Groups in society are often singled out for persecution and repression by the authorities. But in order to ensure that such official actions enjoy a broader public support (or at least do not generate significant public opposition), the authorities engage in a propaganda campaign designed to marginalise and dehumanise the targeted group in the eyes of the rest of society. Members of that group are portrayed as evil, subhuman, the wrongdoers and the enemy. Society is being taught to hate that group, so that when the authorities eventually act against it, their actions meet with the approval or even active cooperation from others. This is precisely what the Nazis did to Jews, but also others, including Gypsies, some Slavs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, socialists, democrats, mentally and physically disabled, and homosexuals. While the Jewish people unquestionably were the main target, based on their religion and ethnicity, others were condemned for their views and beliefs (and there was of course an overlap between different categories of victims). The tactics, however, were the same for all.

As they were in many other places and times in history. Think communists and bourgeoisie, the kulaks, the religious and suspect ethnic minorities. Think Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda. Think Serbs and Croats and Muslims across the former Yugoslavia. Think Turks and Armenians. Think Christians and Jews in the Middle Ages and beyond. Think Islamic jihadis and the Westerners, Christians and everyone considered “not a true Muslim”.

Now, why do you think 75 million Trump voters – or Republicans or the right – have been consistently and increasingly frequently labelled terrorists, extremists, white supremacists, fascists and Nazis by large sections of the left? Because any normal and decent person associates such labels with evil. Those sorts of people are beyond pale and beyond contempt. Once you define those you oppose in such a way, you eliminate any public sympathy for them. And you justify all sorts of actions you might want to take against them, from denying their civil and human rights and restricting social and economic opportunities all the way to harsh and potentially deadly persecution. After all, that’s what Nazis deserve, right? People like that don’t have a place in a civilised society. We shouldn’t give them platforms to spread their vile ideas. We shouldn’t let them exercise any influence or authority over others. Really, the world would be a much better, and safer, place without them. Haven’t we fought the bloodiest war in human history all the way to an “unconditional surrender” to ensure that?

All this is not to say that there will be concentration camps for Trump supporters sometime in the next year or two. You might well think this is a hysterical rhetoric and taking the slippery slope argument far too far. Be that as it may, people on the right have been and continue to be subject to physical violence (from Antifa down – and, clearly, if you are being attacked by “anti-fascists” then you must be a fascist, and if you question such logic then you’re a fascist too), they are being silenced by being deplatformed by major channels of communication, they are being fired from jobs and denied economic opportunities (like Gina Carano), they are subjected to boycotts and blacklists. The left is using its channels of influence and persuasion to teach ordinary Americans to hate anyone and anything associated with Trump as enemies, the antithesis of all that is good and decent in life.

And this is essentially the point that Carano’s post is making. Not every campaign to focus public hate leads to persecution – up to and including genocide –  but every persecution – up to and including genocide – is always preceded, accompanied and reinforced by a campaign to focus public hate. Years and years before the Holocaust finally unfolded, Nazis worked hard to make Germans hate the Jews (or made them hate more, as historians like Daniel Goldhagen have argued). It was a necessary prelude.

The hypocrisy of those condemning Carano is, needless to say, quite staggering. If you were to draw the Venn diagram of people outraged at a comparison between Republicans and persecuted Jews and people who think that Donald Trump is/was Hitler it would be a perfect circle. Just exactly what do you think you were implying when you said that Trump is Hitler? Not simply that Trump himself is evil (the most evil imaginable – can’t get more evil than Hitler) but that he is aiming to somehow introduce some sort of a totalitarian xenophobic dictatorship in America. And we know what happens in totalitarian xenophobic dictatorships: minorities are persecuted. Might not be Jews this time (it was always a stretch, albeit one frequently attempted, to portray a man whose daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish and who had moved the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem as an anti-Semite) but it will be blacks, Latinos, maybe immigrants, homosexuals, transgender, feminists, Muslims; concentration camps for everyone not white, straight and Christian presumably in Trump’s AmeriKKKa.

It was all a delusion but boy, wasn’t it a mass one! That’s what I mean when I wrote above that Carano has committed the unpardonable offence of an Unauthorised Nazi Invocation. If she had tweeted that Trump is Hitler and all his supporters are white supremacists, she would be lionised as another brave voice speaking truth to power. But the silly woman made the mistake of implying that it’s the left that is pursuing Nazi-like tactics, trying to make people hate and despise others based on their political views (she could have as well called them communist tactics or totalitarian tactics). And that’s a no-no. The true sin is not “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities” – it’s denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities for the purpose other than serving the approved narrative. How could she Nazi how wrong that is!

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