Keep comparing everyone to the Nazis?

Via Andrew Sullivan, I see Glenn Greenwald is defending the Nazi comparisons I hate so much:

“The very notion that a major 20th Century event like German aggression is off-limits in political discussions is both arbitrary and anti-intellectual in the extreme. There simply are instances where such comparisons uniquely illuminate important truths…  To demand that German crimes be treated as sacred and unmentionable is to deprive our discourse of critical truths.”

This would be true if not for the fact that the Nazi comparison tactic has been abused quite recklessly by virtually all sides in all arguments about anything in the past few decades. It has almost no meaning at this point.

Greenwald uses the example of Andrew Sullivan’s comparison of then-President Bush’s “enhanced interrogation” policy with Gestapo orders. That’s interesting and all, but did that actually change anybody’s mind about torture? I suspect not. (If so, please mention it in the comments.) The people who think torture is wrong felt good about themselves, the people who thought it was justified thought Sullivan was engaging in Reductio ad Hitlerum.

 I’m not saying the Nazi-comparisons are all that’s standing in the way of everyone understanding each other; rather, I’m saying that bringing it up introduces a needless layer of issues into your argument, and whoever you’re arguing with can talk about that instead of your actual point. It’s so overused it’s become an argument unto itself: “who is more like the Nazis in this debate?” And that isn’t really a productive thing to debate.

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