By Hank Beckman –
Gloria Steinem recently confirmed the validity of Godwin’s Law.
As defined by the Urban Dictionary, Godwin’s Law holds that “as any online discussion grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that someone will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When such an event occurs, the person guilty of invoking Godwin’s Law effectively forfeits the argument.”
(The law, as originally formulated by attorney Mike Godwin, merely maintains that the reference to Hitler or the Nazis was inevitable; the part about automatically losing the argument is a corollary added on later by various commentators)
Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, Steinem noted how the essays in her 1983 book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion, were still relevant in 2019, and in doing so became the 1,037th person in recent years to compare conservatives, or right-wingers, as she called us, to Nazi Germany.
“Another, on a more serious note, to put it mildly, is why Hitler was actually elected and he was campaigning against abortion,” she said. “I mean, that was, he padlocked the family planning clinics.”
You’d think such a historically shallow argument would be greeted by at least an embarrassed glance or two, or maybe a rolled eyeball. But this being NBC, it was received by the panel with approving smiles as profound wisdom from an oracle of Second Wave feminism.
(And if it doesn’t make Steinem guilty of activating the corollary, nothing will, and we can safely ignore it from now on. No premise, no matter how popular, can survive such nonsense.)
It’s probably a fools errand to debate with anyone with such a flimsy grasp of the past, but any competent professor would give Steinem an incomplete if she turned in a paper with that view of Hitler’s policy toward abortion.
Far from being a pro-lifer, as we would think of in the modern era, Hitler should more properly be understood as a proponent of eugenics, a widely popular, albeit despicable, trend of the era.
In America, the goal of eugenics was the encouragement of more of the “fit” to reproduce, and less of the “unfit,” like poor whites, blacks and the feeble minded, whose feeble mindedness was determined by often-vague criteria that really meant they didn’t satisfy the intellectual standards of the elite opinion makers of the day. (For reference, see Carrie Buck and Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court case that declared constitutional the law the State of Virginia used to forcibly sterilize Ms. Buck)
Hitler too believed that certain people should reproduce and others shouldn’t. Blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan types were encouraged to make with the whoopee and procreate; those people were prohibited from aborting their offspring.
But people with mental and physical disabilities, and even the blind and deaf, were often either sterilized or euthanized by gas and lethal injections. And associating Hitler’s policy of extermination toward the Jews and gypsies with pro-life conservatives today requires a level of dishonesty that should embarrass even the most rabid Trump-hating leftist.
Does anyone really believe that conservatives today want to follow the Nazi example—or the example of far too many American progressives of the era—-of prohibiting distinct groups from reproducing, while encouraging others to reproduce? Does Ms. Steinem know of any right-winger making an argument as stunningly creepy as that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she expressed concern about “growth in populations that we don’t want too many of.”
Ginsburg later tried to walk back the comments by saying she was expressing concern for population growth and Medicaid funding abortions for poor people, but there’s no getting around her choice of words—populations that we don’t want too many of.
It’s obviously not just the abortion issue that the Left is using to paint conservatives as Nazis or Nazi sympathizers. Pick any issue and you’re likely to hear the Hitler/Nazi analogy, or something similar.
Want to prevent people from countries rife with terrorism from entering the country? You obviously hate Muslims and are running the Hitler playbook. Advocate common sense border security and screening incoming foreign nationals for criminal records and disease? Well, you just hate Hispanics and are probably a white nationalist and secret member of the Aryan Nation; no matter that many polls show Hispanics in favor of stricter immigration policy.
Sometimes, the Left takes a break from the Nazi/white nationalist argument to invoke the specter of communism, arguing that anyone in favor of a wall to secure the Southern border would obviously have loved the Berlin Wall. People say this with a straight face, blissfully unaware that one wall kept people in and the other would be to keep people out.
And are there really conservatives bent on world conquest, eager to invade other countries and turn them into colonies for the American Homeland? (Well, there is Bill Kristol, I’ll give them that; but he’s not exactly a conservative favorite these days)
When we see the plans for a Final Solution to eliminate whatever group conservatives are supposed to hate, when we hear of plans to invade Mexico or Canada, when we see the legislation designed to confiscate Jewish property, then we can start worrying about the dark night of fascism that conservatives are supposedly advocating.
Until then, I’d give the Hitler/Nazi analogy a rest.