One of the most popular debating techniques, especially on the Internet, is to call your opponent a Nazi. This can be done directly, or through indirect references like "jackbooted thugs" or "the religious Reich." Whenever this happens, the opponent is likely to shout "Godwin's Law" and declare himself the winner of the debate.
The accusation is seldom accurate. One can be labeled a Nazi for something as simple as wearing a goofy mustache or saying they dislike a person who is black or Jewish. But occasionally, it's appropriate. Nazis loved to burn books as part of their campaign to suppress and control information, so comparing today's modern day book-burners and censors to Nazis makes sense. Comparing violent racists to Nazis is appropriate for obvious reasons. And when it comes to those carrying out the current war on smokers, no other group matches their tactics, approaches and arguments as well as the Nazis. It's a damn near perfect fit.
The anti-smokers, of course, bristle at the comparison, quickly pointing out that they are not rounding up smokers and sending them to death camps. Hitler never did that to smokers either. He simply vilified them, taxed them, lied about them, restricted advertising of tobacco, and forbade smoking in public places. Comparing Hitler's treatment of those he murdered to smokers would be absurd. Comparing Hitler's treatment of smokers to the behavior of today's anti-smokers is a perfect apples to apples comparison.
Today's tobacco nannies demand that no one ever smoke in any room they might enter someday. They claim hurricane force winds are necessary to clear smoke from a room. Adolph forbade anyone smoking in any room he might ever enter.
California is trying to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. Hitler raised the age to 25.
Under the control of the Nazis, smoking was banned in streetcars, and many cities instituted bans, including bans in privately owned buildings like bars and restaurants. Sound familiar?
The phrase "passive smoking" was coined by Fritz Lickint in his book "Tobacco and the Organism," which he produced for the German AntiTobacco League. With no evidence to back him up, he claimed that smokers were poisoning everyone around them. (He also insisted that coffee caused cancer.) Passive smoking is, of course, the primary battle cry of today's nannies.
The Nazis banned tobacco advertisements from movies, billboards and posters. No advertisement was allowed to show anyone engaging in a manly or professional activity while smoking. In the US, the FDA passed regulations limiting all tobacco advertisements to stark black and white text, with no pictures of any kind, in every store, on every billboard, and in any magazine with more than a 15% youth readership. Anti-smokers are working hard to ban any depiction of smoking in movies, taking it a step further than der Führer.
Stalin liked to doctor photographs, and I searched for evidence that the Nazis did as well. I was unsuccessful; evidently it was not one of their common tricks. This is not the case with modern day anti-smokers, who gleefully alter photos to protect us from historical facts.
Only two pictures of blues singer Robert Johnson exist. In one of them a cigarette dangles from his lips. When the post office used that photo to create a stamp honoring him, they carefully removed the offensive cigarette. A few years later they did the same thing with a Jackson Pollock photo used for a stamp. A Utah newspaper ran a full page color picture of James Dean, but digitally removed the cigarette he was smoking. (They apologized for it afterwards.) An Eddie Bauer ad in Wired magazine also airbrushed away Dean's cigarette. A boxed set of Paul Simon's older works features an old picture of the singer on the cover. In the original photo he was holding a cigarette, in the new one both the cigarette and the smoke have been removed. In all honestly, though, we can't use these examples to compare the nicotine nannies to the Nazis. Here, they emulate Stalin.
The anti-smoker movement never misses a chance to mention kids. They're doing all this for the children, For The Children, FOR THE CHILLLLLLLLLLLLDERN! They love vilifying smokers in advertisements, showing them smoking around kids, complete with hyperbole about the dangers of such exposure. Hitler also voiced concern For The Children, but he was more honest about his motives. He said: "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."
The Nazis perfected the Big Lie technique. Make a lie huge, repeat it over and over and over, and pretty soon most people will believe it, even if it has no basis in fact. Nazis used radio, billboards and print to teach Germans that Jews murder non-Jews, especially children, as part of their religious rituals. Jews were portrayed as weak willed, diseased, stupid and inferior. School children were served up extra heavy portions of propaganda. Today, the modern anti-smoker movement bombards us with advertisements on billboards, TV, radio and print, insisting that second hand smoke kills, even though there is no evidence to support the allegation. We're told that smokers give kids asthma. (I used to have a link here where the American Lung Association admitted that asthma wasn't caused by smoking, but they've removed it. Surprise surprise.) Smokers are portrayed as weak willed, diseased, stupid and inferior. We're all subjected to it daily, but school children are fed an especially heavy load of such propaganda.
It's still best to avoid calling someone a Nazi, simply because it's trite and overdone. But sometimes, when the parallels are just too numerous to ignore, it's hard to resist. Referring to the leaders and followers of today's anti-smoker movement as Nicotine Nazis may be hackneyed, but at least it's accurate.
Additional information on the Nazis anti-tobacco effort. And if that's not enough, here's more.
Who do you trust on the subject of smoking, Hitler or Einstein?
A doctor's review of the book "The Nazi War on Cancer."
Sanitizing Pollock's Portrait
One of the best articles I've ever read on the subject.
Back in 1988, before calling everyone a Nazi became a national pastime, I wrote this song.