Comparisons to the Nazis or other elements of the Third Reich began long before the days of social media, but they are increasingly used to disparage authorities when they enforce rules some do not find pleasant. This has been the case for decades, but it certainly increased during the Trump administration and some of its policies, but it also reached out to many Democratic governors and mayors who have imposed closures related to the Covid pandemic- 19.
On Tuesday, a comparison of the New York Police Department (NYPD) was made by conservative commentator Todd Starnes to the infamous Gestapo, the secret police created by Hermann Göring in 1933. He reported that patrons of a restaurant in Brooklyn were forced to leave after they refused to show their vaccine papers.
Via Twitter, Starnes (@toddstarnes) shared a link to his comment including the headline “It’s a sad day in America when the police behave like the Gestapo.”
Podcaster Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) also shared footage of the alleged incident, with the caption “Evil. Gestapo. KGB. NYPD Attacking 5-year-old eating pizza? Take off your badges, breakers oath. New York City is a failed state. “
By early afternoon, there had been over 100,000 tweets linked to the term ‘Gestapo’, many retaliating that police actions were in fact the catalyst that launched the Black Lives Matters movement, while others suggested that this was a false equivalence.
Activist Johnny Akzam (@JohnnyAkzam) among those who tried to address the issue, writing: “I don’t think people even realize their own inconsistencies. . They did not call them the Gestapo when they gassed, denigrated and terrorized legitimate protesters. “
Anthropo-journalist Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) also answered the question, but also made a comparison to the Nazis, tweeting: “People who supported a racist president who came to power with the help of the far right Bannon, the far right Breitbart and “
The question in this case is whether such comparisons to the most vile, insidious, and evil regime in history should be used in this way. It has become too easy, especially on social media, to use the terms “Nazi” or “Gestapo” as a derogatory “must” when the policies on the other side are not appreciated.
What makes the situation worse is that it is used by few who know much more about the actual Gestapo beyond the cartoons from movies and TV shows. The current Gestapo, which was administered by the Main Reich Security Office (RSHA), played a key role in the Holocaust. After the end of World War II, it was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) during the Nuremberg trials which began in November 1945.
Throughout its history, there had been strict protocols to protect the identity of Gestapo field personnel, and an agent only had to present their warrant disc without personal information or photo identification – so the comparison with a uniformed police force is also largely misplaced.
“When we use language over and over for dramatic appeal, we weaken it,” warns Amy Bennett, an MA in journalism and former editor of two community newspapers.
“And when we weaken the language around issues involving injustices and atrocious acts against groups of people, we make humanity, history and – most importantly – those who initially hindered service,” said added Bennett, who has also taught journalism and the public. relations for 15 years in a private establishment. “Unfortunately, the internet has fueled these cases by allowing those with similar immature language standards to feed off each other and come together, amplifying their unrefined use of language around their outrage.”