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    Heil, Glennster

    “That’s what Goebbels did. That’s what Goebbels did. The truth didn’t matter.”

    Glenn Beck, complaining about ABC News coverage of his Washington rally

    Godwin’s Law, the theory that online arguments inevitably end up using Hitler rhetorically. A form of hyperbole, the trope of exaggeration.

    Mike Godwin had his tongue in his cheek when he first invoked his law in 1989: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” No matter what the subject—gardening, fashion, even tea parties—Hitler will raise his evil analogous head.

    Godwin, an attorney and expert on Internet law, added that mention of Hitler stops the conversation. But Beck and his fellow hysterics actually seem to reverse this corollary. They start with Hitler and go on from there. According to the Washington Post, Nazism had cropped up 202 times on Beck’s Fox News show by mid-July.

    The Nazi references constitute a hyperbolic analogy, a way of tarring the enemy with a horrid comparison. Hyperbole and analogy are both tropes—non-literal language that says one thing while conveying an additional meaning.

    Figaro loves tropes (see “The Four Most Dangerous Figures”). They make the rhetorical world go round. But when we take tropes literally, when citizens believe there’s a faint Hitler ’stache growing under the presidential schnozz, then we’ve got real propaganda going on.

    Just what Goebbels did.

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    Reader Comments (18)

    Beck uses Goebbels' own propaganda techniques, then accuses opponents of doing it. Neat trick.
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElena
    Yes, it is. I've been looking for a name for that technique and haven't found one. Any Figarists know one? If not, I'll make one up.
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRichard
    Glennilalia. Sounds appropriately obscene.
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Lanza
    Or maybe Foxing the henhouse?
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Who did the art? Its masterful!
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTina
    Figaro himself, with the magic of Photoshop.
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Is it a kind of prolepsis? A Hitlerian prolepsis?
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Ace
    Yes, Steve, Figaro declares that any anticipatory move falls under the general rubric of prolepsis. (Some rhetoricians disagree.)
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Actually, the mustache improves him.
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRenata
    Antoehr socalist blog. Glenn Beck speaks the TRUTH all of you will be punished for your SINS someday
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmerican
    Figaro doesn't live in SoCal. He lives in New Hampshire, where he regularly salutes his Live Free or Die license plate.
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    If we want an eponym for the prolepsis that attracts rapid followers like the spelling-challenged participant above, how about merely calling it the Beckon?
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
    Love it! Or maybe the Beckon Call?
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Or Der Furor?
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterXwoman
    Since the technique is so twisted, how about the Gordian Nazi? Or does that confuse eponyms?
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLemony
    Isn't it obvious? The Beckfire!
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFarfignoggin
    Figaro just smacked his rhetorical forehead. Thanks, 'Noggin!
    August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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