A new Godwin’s Law?

We all know what Godwin’s law is…leftists usually are the first to break it, but now it is thought there is a new Godwin’s law.

Samuel Johnson once said that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Patriotism, and bad analogies.

For the uninitiated, Godwin’s Law is one of the cardinal rules of the Internet. Coined in 1990 by Internet law expert Mike Godwin, the principle — confirmed by countless contentious comment threads across the web — is that the longer an online discussion persists, the greater the odds become that someone will make a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler, to the point of near-inevitability. Nothing ends a debate faster than the hyperbolic unsupported counterfactual: “You know who else did [INSERT SUBJECT OF ARGUMENT HERE]? Hitler!”

We get this all the time…usually from teachers unions…they used it against Anne Tolley and are yet to deploy it against Hekia Parata…only a matter of time though.

But Hitler and the Nazis aren’t the only recurring straw men used to end debates. Over the past 12 years, it’s become clear that the longer a national security debate persists, the more likely it becomes that someone will try to end it by suggesting something — some policy, some person, some technology — “could have prevented 9/11.” 

The implication is that if something “could have prevented 9/11,” then it must be justified. It’s a trump card, a conversation-ender — and it’s impossible to prove. But that hasn’t stopped people from using it — from FBI Director Robert Mueller testifying on the Hill on Thursday to actor Mark Wahlberg’s 2012 tough-guy claims. Here’s a brief sampling of the people and policies that “could have prevented 9/11.”

  • June 13, 2013: FBI Director Robert Mueller, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about the surveillance of telephony metadata, claims that, had the technology been in place in 2001, it “could have derailed the plan…. If we had had this program that opportunity would have been there.”
  • March 4, 2013: Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, claims that if the United States had opened diplomatic relations with the Afghan Taliban, “maybe the 9/11 attacks would not have taken place.”
  • Aug. 26, 2012: Rep. Ron Paul claims his isolationist policies could have prevented 9/11, saying, “They say ‘Osama bin Laden would still be alive if we listened to you,’… You know what I say? So would the 3,000 people killed on 9/11!”
  • February 2012: Mark Wahlberg, who reportedly had booked a ticket for one of the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center but canceled his flight days before,tellsMen’s Journal, “If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did…. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin.” (He has since apologized.)
  • May 3, 2011: Sen. John Thrasher, making a case in the Senate for an immigration bill, claims that an E-Verify system could have caught the 9/11 hijackers, saying, “I wish we would have had the E-Verify system…. We might have saved the lives of 3,000 Americans.” (PolitiFact rated this dubious claim a “Pants on Fire” lie.)
  • Oct. 15, 2010: Agents from the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration write in theLos Angeles Times that WikiLeaks could have prevented 9/11 by sharing compartmentalized or suppressed intelligence. “If WikiLeaks had been around in 2001, could the events of 9/11 have been prevented?” they ask. “The idea is worth considering.”
  • Jan. 23, 2006: During the controversy that erupted during the last NSA surveillance scandal, Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the NSA when it began its warrantless wiretapping program, says of the monitoring, “Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.”

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  • Guest

    I know what could have helped to prevent 9/11: women. Women in charge = less testosterone (not all female leaders are like Helen Clark) = more engagement of brain= real solutions and less games of oneupmanship = less war = less pissing off other countries.

    Oh and more women in charge = better intelligence…women always know how to keep tabs on dodgy pricks.

    As for Mueller – idiot. Hindsight is always a beautiful thing. The what ifs where 9/11 concerns goes back decades; terrorists always find a way if they really want to.

    • grumpy

      What???? “not all female leaders are like Helen Clark”???
      No, some are like Julia Gillard.

      • Guest

        Gillard isn’t manly…but she is left wing

        Shipley – right wing & manly

        Collins….what do you reckon?

        My preference – more women like Sitrida Geagea…

        • grumpy

          If Sitrida Geagea…. was any good, I would know who she is.

          • Guest

            She’s pretty good…..

          • grumpy

            Almost made a bad mistake! Googled her and it said she was “lesbian”, then I looked again and realised it was “Lebanese”!

          • grumpy

            Found this on Google – Google is your friend. I don’t think she is as kosher (excuse the expression) as you think….

            “Originally Posted by patriotic

            strida geagea has been hit with a glass of seven-up by mrs.carine ghaith khoury at the condolences to efram family
            people paying condolences to efram family last saturday have witnessed the following incident:

            Mrs. Strida geagea who arrived surprisingly to the place has been hit with a glass of seven-up by mrs. Carine ghaith khoury / wife of mr. Mounir chafic efram

            carine said to strida:”do you dare to pay condolences,
            because of you, a lot of people paid condolences in the past”

            a small dispute started between lf bodyguards and efram dirvers and bodyguards and strida left immediately
            for people of you who do not know the story, carine is the
            daughter of ghaith khoury (kataeb leader very close to joumayyel family) who was assassinated and his wife by samir geagea in 1984 in order to move the christian areas of jbeil and jounieh and later to beirut against hobeika

            we understand that samir geagea could kill a political leader,
            but we do not understand why he followed his wife and killed her in the hospital because she recognised the killers

            anyway, we should forgive the pats but at least samir geagea has to apologise to khoury family, to kartaba people and to all lebanese before he dares to walk among them”

          • Guest

            Hmmm, still not as bad as a Bush president, Blair, Reagan, Kennedy, though…..and even if she is she is definitely a lot prettier!

          • grumpy

            We agree on the last bit…..Lady MacBeth springs to mind.

        • grumpy

          “manly”……you sexist pig!

      • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

        Some are like Annette King, Steve Chadwick and Meteira Turei. Margaret Thatcher famously said that within 10 seconds of meeting a man she could sum up his character… How did that work out when she met Jimmy Savile?

    • blokeintakapuna

      Trouble is – when those that hold the purse strings – like the wealthy KSA and other Middle East nations… try telling them they need more woman leaders.
      Well – at least the woman could now drive themselves to where they’re needed… if they have another female / children with them – or a male relative…

      • Guest

        Perhaps the West would be better leading by example…..get more women in charge of the big money driving US politics (tech, mining, defence…Bush family business)…

        • Get a grip

          Heard of Hilary Clinton? Meg Whitman? Janet Yellen? to name a few women in charge!

          • Guest

            Sorry should have said get more women in charge. Corrected now

            That said, if you meant to imply that women in the USA are already in charge where politics, lobbying & business is concerned I am not sure your examples are the best you could have found:

            Clinton isn’t in charge. She isn’t even the DP

            Whitman – HP isn’t really on the same par as the big lobby groups in the US though is it (google, microsoft etc not to mention those outside tech like mining, oil etc)

            Yellen – Vice Chair is not Chairman, so again not in charge

          • Get a grip

            mmm watch this space – Yellen is front runner to take from Bernanki when he is stepped down :-) SHe is/was a leader
            2004–2010 President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
            Oops thats when California started down the road of bankrupcy :-)

          • Guest

            Oooh sounds promising! :-)

          • AnonWgtn

            Condi Rice is back in play – at least she is highly intelligent, plays great game of golf, and is a classical pianist of some skill.

          • grumpy

            And “likes Winston’s style”.

    • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

      If you want to get laid, just go to a bar and say those kinds of things to the old nags floating around waiting for Mr Right to show up now that they’re able to MYSKY Desperate Housewives after HR’s let them out for the day. :-p

      • Guest

        What are/is HR’s?

        If I was lesbian I am not sure I would use the term get laid….or go to a bar to find girls who are keen to play for the other team because Mr Right hasn’t come along….I suspect such girls would be in scrapbook clubs (those who wait around & bitch & moan about how all men suck generally like scrapbooking don’t they?)! :-)

        And girls who wait around for men to come save them generally don’t end up in charge of anything – including their own lives.

        • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

          The abbreviated form of “HR has.” HR is the new kitchen, haha.
          As for what you say on scrapbooking girls. Haha, yes. Agreed.

      • grumpy

        You really do want to be like Mallard some day, don’t you?

    • cows4me

      Oh please, we are talking about bad bastards not the colour of the drapes :- )

    • Bad__Cat

      Less War? Maggie Thatcher, Golda Meir, Queen Victoria…

      • Guest

        I said less not none & precluded women with masculine traits – your 3 examples were brutal. I liked Thatcher but hardly someone who had an impact on women being seen as equal just because they were female. If it had been all women in charge during the Falklands era, Crimean, Israel etc do you think those wars during the reign of those women would have still come to fruition? Women tend to behave differently when fighting to be taken seriously by what is a boys club. Hence why some past female leaders had the appearance of being feminine but were not really feminine per se – from Theresa Gattung to Clark, Shipley, Richardson & most of the current pollies throughout the world.

        Yet women who have really made history have been the complete opposite – Mother Theresa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Lady Diana, Florence Nightingale, Joan of Arc, Kate Shepherd, Katherine Switzer, , Eva Peron, Rosa Parks….so if we had had more of these types of women in power then perhaps there would have been far less bloodshed – wouldn’t you agree?