There is a popular rhetorical device employed, from time to time, which I have often smirked at in wonderment. It is the oft-repeated challenge to the average voter to help “take our country back.” It is hurled most frequently from the pasty overfed face of the patriarchy, splashing like spittle from puffy cheeks which would be pale but for the artificial rouge of vitriol for The Other du Jour. This week, the President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr., asked his acolytes to carry concealed weapons, specifically to attack Muslims. Donald Trump called for a ban on travel to the US by Muslims. Both comments were met with thunderous applause.
At the same time, and in a somewhat parallel orbit, there exists another rhetorical device, frequently invoked as a lighthearted point of order in discussions. It goes by the name “Godwin’s Law” and it states that one immediately loses an argument when one resorts to comparing one’s opponent to the Nazi regime. In some ways it is meant to avoid unnecessary name calling. In others, it is meant to serve as a deterrent to incendiary remarks which would derail otherwise productive discussion. Mostly, it serves to avoid cheapening the horrors of the Holocaust, by preventing every perceived slight to be regarded as on par with the atrocities committed by the Third Reich.
Well, Godwin is Dead.
We are now living in a world where we no longer have to ask what we would do if we saw racist, murderous fascists rise to power within our country and threaten a vulnerable minority community. We are experiencing it. This is the “take back” of America and it is uglier than we ever could have imagined.
I won’t ask you to help me “take back” our country. Those of us who move and exist within marginalized communities know that this country has never left the iron grip of the white Christian male oligarchy. It was never ours to begin with. But if we do nothing, evil will surely triumph.
In many ways, the early internet ruined the historical Nazi reference for everybody.