Although it was common to draw comparisons between Nazism and Third Reich elements long before the advent of social media, this is increasingly being used to criticize authorities for enforcing rules they don’t like. This has been the norm for many decades. However, it increased under the Trump administration. It was also directed against Democratic mayors and governors who ordered lockdowns in relation to the Covid-19 epidemic.
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. According to Starnes, patrons in a Brooklyn restaurant were made to leave when they refused to produce their vaccination papers.
Starnes (@toddstarnes), shared via Twitter a link that included his comment, including the headline: “It’s A Sad Day In America When Police Behave like the Gestapo.”
Podcaster Benny Johnson shared the footage with the caption, “Evil.” Gestapo. KGB. NYPD attacking a 5-year-old eating pizza. You oathbreakers need to take your badges off. New York City has failed as a state.
In the early hours of the afternoon, there were more than 100,000 tweets discussing the phrase “Gestapo.” Many people claimed police actions are what started Black Lives Matters. While others suggested the false equivalency.
Johnny Akzam, activist (@JohnnyAkzam), was one of those to attempt to resolve the problem writing: “I don’t believe people realize their inconsistencies. Introspection, please. Thin-blue conservatives pissed off at police officers for applying vaccine mandates. While they gassed and attacked lawful protesters, they didn’t call them Gestapo.
Will Black, @WillBlackWriter, also addressed the issue. He tweeted, “People supporting a racist president that gained power with help from far-right Bannon. far-right Breitbart. and Nazis like Richard Spencer, aren’t coming off well by using words such as Gestapo.”
This case raises the question of whether these comparisons to some of history’s most evil, corrupt and insidious regimes should be made. On social media it is easy to make slurs of the opposing side, such as “Nazi” and “Gestapo”, especially when they are not supportive.
It is difficult to believe that few know more than the TV shows and movies about Gestapo. Gestapo was actually administered by RSHA, the Reich Security Main Office. This office played an important role in the Holocaust. The International Military Tribunal (IMT), which began in November 1945, declared it a criminal organization.
During its history, there had been strict protocols at protecting the identity of Gestapo field personnel, and an operative was only required to present his warrant disc without personal information or picture identification – so the comparison to a uniformed police force is also largely misplaced.
Amy Bennett is an ex-managing editor at two local newspapers and holds a master’s degree in journalism.
“And when we weaken language around issues that involve injustice and atrocious acts against groups of people, we do humanity, history and – most importantly – those initially harmed a disservice,” added Bennett, who has also taught in the field of journalism and public relations for 15 years at a private institution. The Internet is a catalyst for these situations, as it allows those with the same immature languages standards to interact and join together, amplifying what they are expressing.