February 08, 2006
Oh, the irony!
A comment to the Confederate Rainbow flag post below reminded me that the issue of fairness is often more complicated than it seems:
Eric:My initial reaction was surprise, because, while I still have the "Communists for Kerry" link and logo (which I love), I've never seriously believed John Kerry was a Communist. It's obvious satire, albeit of a deliberately provocative right wing variety.
Was Julian Bond engaged in satire with the "Confederate swastika" remark? I never would have thought so, because everything about the man seems so serious.
As to "my" Hillary-as-Stalinist ad, I've never seen such a thing on this blog, and I'm not seeing it this morning but I don't control the new ad bar; did someone sneak it through? (I doubt it, because the ads appear pretty mainstream.) I just looked through the ads very carefully, and I see nothing of the sort. True, there's that picture of Dianne Feinstein holding the machine gun, but that's obvious satire. (Does anyone think she really likes machine guns?)
For what it's worth, I agree with the premise of Godwin's Law. I think it needs to be pointed out, however, that Godwin's Law is not violated by discussing a person's membership in the Nazi party, friendships with actual members of the Nazi Party, or genuine Nazi sympathies.
Dave Kopel offers this Wikipedia quote:
Godwin's Law does not dispute whether, in a particular instance, a reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be apt. It is precisely because such a reference or comparison may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that hyperbolic overuse of the Hitler/Nazi comparison should be avoided. Avoiding such hyperbole, he argues, is a way of ensuring that when valid comparisons to Hitler or Nazis are made, such comparisons have the appropriate impact.While I have never seriously stated that Kerry or Hillary Clinton are Communists, I have no problem with extending Godwin's Law to Communist/Stalinist comparisons.
The problem is that in real life, there are Communist Party members and sympathizers just as there are Nazi Party members and sympathizers. Thus, if despite Godwin's Law I point out someone's membership in the Nazi Party and I am right, most people will be properly disgusted with that person. If the evidence is beyond dispute, they might offer excuses (the way Byrd's past membership in the Klan was minimized), but there'd be no debating the serious nature of the charge.
Yet, if I pointed out someone's membership in or work with the Communist Party, a lot of people would be outraged -- even if I was right. The difference is that the outrage wouldn't be directed at the Communist or Communist sympathizer; it would be directed towards me. I'd be called a "red baiter" or a "McCarthyite."
Things like Communist associations are generally not mentioned in the mainstream media. A good recent example was the death of Betty Friedan; none of the MSM accounts mentioned that she was "a long-time participant in the American Communist movement." (More here, and my previous discussion is here.)
It's easy for people prone to paranoid conspiracy thinking to imagine that this is because the MSM is sympathetic to the Communist Party or working assiduously for the left, but I think that's about as simplistic as it would be to conclude they're Islamist sympathizers for refusing to print the Danish cartoons.
It's not accurate to call such fears "sympathy."
But what happens when people allow themselves to be led by fear?
(As I say, it gets complicated.....)
posted by Eric on 02.08.06 at 08:04 AM
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