In any debate on the Internet, the probability of a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis approaches 1 as the length of the debate increases. This truism is known as “Godwin’s Law“, and in some circles bringing Hitler up in an unrelated debate is known as “Godwinning”. Godwinning is almost always 1) done in a negative sense, since, you know, the Nazis were bad and stuff; and 2) used against one’s opponents, i.e. comparing whatever/whomever you are arguing against to Hitler, rather than yourself.
Timothy Kalyegira, in a Daily Monitor op-ed about President Museveni’s imminent signing of a bill banning homosexuality*, has achieved a rare form of Godwinning, painting Nazis in a fairly positive light and comparing his own side of the debate to them:
This is what I don’t like about the way the gay agenda is being thrust at Africa. A determined and well-organised minority can wreak havoc on a majority.
It is this frenzy, the will to power, the assertion of a collective ego by the gay rights movement that I find suspect. It is the obsession with pushing the rights of tiny minorities and fringe groups into the mainstream and making the mainstream guilty about not embracing these minority rights.It is this precise attitude of hysterical activism that led to the rise of the fascist movements in Europe in the 1930s. The Nazi in Germany and Italy’s Brown Shirts fascists started out as extreme nationalist groups, usually scorned and their leaders often in jail. But they skilfully worked up the sentiments of their disillusioned and frustrated populations until they became part of the mainstream and eventually rose to power.
The gay lobby needs to think seriously about the aggressive way they are going about their campaign. It might bring them disaster in future. (“The coming backlash against homosexuals”, February 23rd 2014).
In the leadup to the signing of the bill, the Ugandan media has been littered with ridiculous arguments against homosexuals and in favor of banning them, but this inverse self-Godwin is simultaneously the most ridiculous and the most terrifying point I have ever seen made in a political debate. Even casting it in the most favorable possible light, Kalyegira is telling homosexuals to watch out and keep quiet or they face genocidal retribution.**
None of this is to say that all of the op-eds on the topic have been ridiculous and anti-gay: in another op-ed in the same issue of the Monitor, Bernard Tabaire eloquently makes the point that demolishing free speech and the rights of minorities is a dangerously slippery slope:
Standing up for the rights of all Ugandans is as important today as it ever was. The government has no right to tell us who to sleep with and how; what to wear; which films to watch; what to protest for or against in a group. Otherwise we will soon be told what to think.
Unfortunately, given what Kanyegira is willing to openly write about homosexuals, reasonable people like Tabaire face a tough slog in fighting for minority rights in Uganda.
EDIT: The link to the Kalyegira piece above (which was the top hit I found on Google) for some reason omits the end of the op-ed, which is by far the most disturbing section. Here is the full text – note that the lion’s share of the scariest part is on the second page. I’ve excerpted it here in case it gets taken down:
I foresee a demagogue like Adolf Hitler, sensing the silent resentment in society at this agenda. He will seize the moment. He will be courageous or reckless enough to disregard public opinion. It will take an unconventional man at the margins like that to snap the West out of its present state.
He will form a far-right party and make the core of his agenda that of restoring traditional Christian values. At first, he will shock many by daring to challenge the taboo of not speaking out against gays.
He will be denied TV studio time, but like the rapidly-rising Far Right political parties in Europe in the 1930s and today, he will be, like Hitler, a man with nothing to lose. He will be tenacious and persist with his radical agenda of calling for the elimination of homosexuals from society.
Eventually, to the disbelief of many, he will be elected by an enthusiastic majority, tired of being made to feel guilty about feeling there is something wrong with homosexuality.
Then hordes of once-suppressed majorities will descend on gays in their neighbourhoods, work places and villages and they will be jailed or worse. History is full of such backlashes.