The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 October 2002

It's a metaphorical trifecta

Yes, it's time for Cinderella Bloggerfeller (with a new, or at least different, template!) and the latest installment from Dr Dinah Dienstag, on the dodgy subject of equating Israel with the Third Reich:

"How did the idiotarian 'Israelis are Nazis' metaphor evolve? There are several theories. The first is that idiotarians simply couldn't help it. They were so used to accusing people they didn't like of being 'Nazis' that it just came naturally to them. It was the equivalent of parrotting 'Polly want a cracker'. The typical leftist idiotarian's debating method is like a two-speed hair drier — it emits hot air at varying powers in order to try to blow away the opposing argument and the opposing arguer without using difficult things like logic or reason. In other words, the idiotarian will accuse his adversary of being (1) a 'fascist' (warm); or (2) a 'Nazi' (hot). These labels have nothing to do with historical fascism or National Socialism. They are a labour-saving device. When the 'fascist' insult doesn't work, the idiotarian ups the power to 'Nazi'."

That's one theory. But there are others:

"The other theories about this metaphor are more literary. The first is that it is postmodernist. Words don't mean anything any more so the labels 'Israeli' and 'Nazi' are simply empty, interchangeable husks. Perhaps the postmodernist idiotarian is using a fancypants rhetorical device called 'chiasmus' in which two terms are crossed over in an X shape. The postmodernist has probably written a dissertation called The Anatomy of Melancholy, or the Melancholy of Anatomy: A Hermeneutic Discourse on the Seventeenth Century Psychological Text. So it's no great strain to come up with The Israelis as Nazis, the Nazis as Israelis: A Hermeneutic Discourse on a Modern Political Chiasmus. The postmodernist likes that. It's ironic. It confirms his worldweary view of politics (which he acquired from his tutor at the age of eighteen): any nation is just as bad as every other nation, all political systems are equally stupid. Everything is meaningless but the postmodernist's meaninglessness is more meaningful than your meaninglessness (and much better paid)."

Dr Dienstag means it, too. But there's more:

"The other literary theory is that the 'Israelis are Nazis' metaphor is so blatantly false that it is simply surrealism. The surrealist poet André Breton once wrote 'The world is as blue as an orange'. Maybe comparing Jews to Nazis is like saying 'green as milk' or 'black as snow'. Hey, far out, man!"

"The house is pretty ugly and a little big for its lot." Or something like that.

This level of erudition is far beyond my own, which probably explains why I quoted so much of it: maybe some of it will rub off. I admit to having affected a level of world-weariness for most of the time I've spent in this world, which is either an admission that I don't have the stuff to be a proper nihilist, or a practice session for the actual physical weariness that has set in.

And give Dinah and, um, Cindy due credit: they did all this without once having to trot out Godwin's Law.

Posted at 9:04 PM to Political Science Fiction