Re: Godwins Law

Robert G. Grimes (
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 16:24:28 -0500

Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 16:24:28 -0500
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Godwins Law

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Dear Joe,

We keep getting new references and I must admit that, although I'm familiar with the underlying point of your message, I had never heard it referred to as Godwin's Law.

First, I think that most of us are in general agreement with the principle that argument has degenerated to last resort when comparisons to Nazism commence.  And I think that you have certainly hit the nail on the head that such a device is a meme unto itself, even if it may frequently become the last effort of someone on the losing end of an argument when they produce such in desperation.  But, I further intrigued by your study of Nazi Iconography serving as a "visual meme."

When in the service during W.W.II I was acquainted with a German Priest  who was a political refugee in the United States while his brother was actively an SS Colonel (saber scar, monocle and the works) in Nazi Germany.  The brother could never believe that the Priest could turn his back on the Fatherland or not savor the teachings of Adolph and, as a result, he persistently sent enemy agents by submarine into the Gulf of Mexico to be landed in Texas and to travel and contact the Priest for purpose of espionage and sabotage.  Upon the first attempt, the Priest contacted the authorities and they arranged for the FBI to cleverly "catch" the spies in a fashion that would seem unconnected to the Priest.  As a result, the SS Colonel kept sending spies and they kept getting caught on the way to the Priest and the Colonel apparently never realized he was marked and that the Priest was communicating the data that was coming to him by mail and was being given to the FBI.

Besides being an interesting story, the Priest showed me the paraphernalia that was given to the Nazi youth groups and it included a stamp book in which the young boys collected the stamps to place in the books.  The stamps were primarily on the Teutonic history of Germany, including the Teutonic Knights, etc., and one could almost hear the Wagnerian symphony playing crescendos in the background when looking at the stamps.  For one thing, they were not postage stamps but were much larger, still glued and perforated like postage stamps, and matched the printed histories in the book that were represented by the stamps, and they were of different sizes.  The art work of the stamps was in color and was magnificent!  No child learning his history by collecting and using those stamps could fail to be moved by them in their magnificence!  It was truly a sinister and clever method of indoctrination of the German youth into the Aryan fairy tales Hitler enjoyed supporting to further inculcate the proud and fearless new young citizens of the Fatherland.  When I saw them I immediately realized what a potent engine had been created in Nazi Germany to produce the young Germans of the future.  It would have infected me if it had been told to me that it was my heritage.

As an aside, the students of my State of Texas had an equivalent (although not so grand) comparison in our "Texas History Movies," which was like a comic book, put out by the State of Texas,  with the story of Texas history, the revolution, the fall of the Alamo, etc., all done in absolutely hilarious cartoon strips portraying the Texians and our heroes in their most famous battles, etc.  Mine was returned to me recently when it was discovered in some family heirlooms.  To this day I cannot enter the Alamo without coming to tears so it did its job and there is no doubt of the visual memetic contribution of the picture history, even if it was not as powerful and as grand as that dreamed up by the likes of Hitler and Goebbels...  Unfortunately, the nearest thing to Goebbels that I can think of today might be someone like Rush Limbaugh and his daily three hour broadcasts of propaganda.  Do you think that means I've lost all my political arguments of persuasion by descending to comparisons to Nazism?

Again, a very interesting and I suspect, promising, field of study...



Joe Magee wrote:

I'm new to the list - so apologies if this is covering old ground

I'm an artist and have been experimenting with nazi iconography as part of
a visual investigation into memetics.

I recently came across Godwin's law on the net - Mr Godwin's idea that when
an arguement encompasses Naziism then the arguement is dead (he
acknowledges that in some ways this is the self conscious creation of a
meme in itself).

Its an interesting idea - which I don't think is necessarily true - but it
set me thinking and I'd be interested in what others on the list think to

Joe Magee

Bob Grimes
Jacksonville, Florida

Man is not in control, but the man who knows he is not in control is more in control...

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

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