Rethinking Godwin’s Law in Gaza

It’s an inevitability if you’re an online muckraker. It happens all the time. You get dragged down the rabbit hole by some malignant grandstanding troll and, regardless of what the devolving conversation was actually about, somebody gets called a fucking Nazi. It’s so common that it has it’s own name, Godwin’s Law, created by attorney, author, and Electronic Frontier Foundation veteran Mike Godwin. Godwin’s Law was originally an internet adage that declared that any online squabble, if allowed to go on long enough, would inevitably lead to someone or something being inappropriately compared to Hitler or the Nazi regime.

However, like many the internet adage, Godwin’s Law has taken on another unofficial meaning. A more punitive meaning that essentially goes that anyone who makes such a comparison has already lost the argument and in some cases may indeed be an anti-Semite for having taken it there. But what happens when just such a comparison, however ugly, is completely appropriate? What happens when the similarities to the Third Reich become so appallingly obvious that ignoring such a fact becomes an exercise in absurdity? And what happens when those similarities are in fact an indirect result of histories greatest horror? The rotten fruit of the Reich. Are we to ignore such inconvenient truths? And if so, at whose expense and to whose reward?

After two weeks of Israel’s latest hideous bombing campaign against the Gazan prison camp, I find such uncomfortable comparisons hard to resist. The bloodbath began with the ongoing ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, in this case the embattled Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the IDF’s storm trooper assault on the peaceful Ramadan worshippers of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. In response to such brutish behavior, Hamas decided to launch a volley of rockets into Israel after issuing an ultimatum calling on Israeli soldiers to leave the mosque and the Sheik Jarrah protesters be.

Israel chose war and used Hamas’ puny attempt at self-defense as an excuse to launch a blitzkrieg carpet bombing over one of the most densely populated places on earth, a gigantic ghetto under permanent lockdown by a totally criminal blockade, giving it’s inmates no place safe to hide. It was like shooting fish in a barrel with a goddamn Uzi. Schools, hospitals, whole apartment blocks, nothing was off limits. Whole towers were demolished 9/11 style, including one housing the offices of international journalists. Homes in refugee camps were obliterated without warning before the routes to the nearest hospitals were mined. Hundreds of civilians, many of them helpless women and children, annihilated without mercy.

Hamas attempted to negotiate a ceasefire on day two of the eleven day massacre. Their ceasefire was rejected and the attacks were intensified to spite their efforts. Israel’s zeal for sadism knew no bounds. According to them, every bombing target, every school, tower, and hovel contained a hidden Hamas asset and in a way they were right. In spite of how you or I may feel about them, Hamas is the rightful democratically elected leadership of Gaza. They enjoy the popular support of a broken populace desperate to strike back against their tormentors like Warsaw partisans even if it means dying in the process. Any death is better than life in internment. For this sometimes misguided sin of pride, Israel sees fit to punish an entire population. Gaza’s greatest sin has been resisting their Judaization, refusing to be liquidated for the greater good of the chosen people.

Under such devastating circumstances, how is any historical observer not supposed to make the connection between the actions and ambitions of Israel’s master race and Nazi Germany, especially when you consider the intimate connections between the two. I have long argued that the greatest tragedy of the Holocaust was that many of the children of it’s survivors were doomed by international forces to become the new Nazis. Like an abused child, Israel developed into the shape of its tormentors and the American empire exploited this sickness to wage war on the Arab world. Just like the Nazi’s Third Reich, this war is doomed by its own ambition to fail and this failure is doomed by its reaper’s cruelty to devolve into increasingly genocidal policies before the new Nazis can collapse beneath the weight of their horror.

I say none of this with glee or even anger. I draw my conclusions with great sadness and pray to various gods that I’m wrong. But to declare me an anti-Semite among other foul slurs just for invoking such unpleasant historical observations is the truly lazy and callous position to take. The second interpretation of Godwin’s Law is simply another excuse to silence debate on a sensitive subject and even the first interpretation refuses to acknowledge that the greatest example of humanities capacity for cruelty in the last century can serve as a perfect scale to measure our sins by so long as it’s done analytically. Otherwise we raise the horrors of the Holocaust to a height in which no crime could ever possibly compare, thus assuming that just such a crime cannot possibly repeat itself. Surely the risk offered by just such an ultimatum far outweighs that posed by the insensitivity of douche bags on the internet.

You be the judge, dearest motherfuckers. I for one welcome the debate. I only hope it’s not in vain.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.