Friday, August 28, 2015

Godwin's Law and the Fallacious Fallacy vs. Islamic Hitler

Curt Schilling's recent controversial twitter repost (see photo) created sufficient ire to have ESPN pull him as a commentator on the current Little League World Series.  Extreme as the blood-red Hitler imagery is, does the underlying thought deserve to be dismissed so readily?

Enter Godwin's law: this principle basically states that any online discussion discussed long enough will eventually produce a comparison to the Nazi movement or Hitler. Importantly, the law has also become associated with the corollary idea that once someone has played the "Hitler card" their side has lost the debate in question, ostensibly because the Nazi analogy is never a good one.

In the case of the Muslim to Nazi comparison involved here, Godwin's law certainly applies; it was only a matter of time that the extremist Islam movement would be compared to the German National Socialist movement.  One should think a little deeper, however, to determine if the comparison is as out of kilter as a comparison of Hitler to George W. Bush or Nazism to GMO Agribusiness.

In my estimation both the Nazi and Islamic Extremist movements have been fueled by ideologies that seek world domination long term. Germany became obsessed with creating a thousand year Reich led by an elite race.  Some radical Islamic extremists have indicated their intent to establish a worldwide caliphate under sharia law.

More to the point of Schilling's repost, both movements mobilized a militant minority to leverage widespread violence in order to achieve it's organizations goals.  Germany's general population, rebounding off mass recession was caught in Hitler's cult of personality at the heart of Nazism, further permitting leadership to pursue militant expansionism and execution of those considered culturally inferior.  Radical Islamic organizations have arguably pursued extensive military action toward its expansionist goals. Additionally numerous executions of non-believers and ex-Muslims have been carried out, sufficient to associate the radical Islamic movement with fanatical behavior that is quite similar to ideological euthanasia.

In my opinion, the similarity between the two movements seems sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable comparison.  Godwin's law does apply, but it is a fallacy to dismiss the comparison out of hand.

How we pursue countering radical Islam will tell much about us as a world culture.  The challenge of defeating the militant minded, human rights violating radical extremists will very likely take more than military action by secular nations and their allies.  As Ayaan Hirsi Ali develops in great detail in her book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now (which I highly recommend), the Islamic faith as a whole needs a reformation, much as Christianity needed centuries ago, to turn the corner and participate in modern society.

This position isn't Islamaphobic, which implies a 9/11 terroristic aspect to all Muslims.  In my opinion a comparison of radical Islam with nascent Nazism of the 1930's is not misplaced.  Indeed, what the secular world needs is the large majority of peace-loving Muslims of the world to stand tall, begin reform of Islamic principles and ally whole-heartedly with the rest of peace-loving humanity to work toward reducing radical Islam's devastating impact in the modern world.

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