TV | February 23, 2020 1:30 pm

Chris Matthews Compares Sanders Win in Nevada to Nazis Occupying France, Faces Calls to Resign

Did the MSNBC host cross a line with his comments?

Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews stepped down after making a bizarre comparison on-air.
Steve Bott/Creative Commons

You might be familiar with Godwin’s Law: the argument that, in online discussions, the longer one lasts, the more likely it is for someone to bring up Hitler. Evidently, Godwin’s Law can also apply outside of online discourse. The latest example of this comes from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who’s facing calls for his resignation after a particularly convoluted political metaphor following Bernie Sanders’s Nevada caucus win.

Specifically, Matthews compared Sanders’s Nevada victory, and the increasing likelihood that he would win the Democratic Party nomination, to Nazi Germany’s military victory over — and subsequent occupation of — France in 1940.

Matthews has made little secret of his dislike of Sanders: earlier this month, he alluded to his anxiety over public executions in Central Park when discussing the prospect of the Vermont Senator becoming President. But comparing a Jewish candidate for President to, well, Nazi Germany has — very understandably — infuriated more than a few people who heard Matthews’s comments.

As Newsweek reports, a number of prominent writers and political figures have called for Matthews to resign or be fired. The fact that members of Sanders’s family were killed in the Holocaust makes Matthews’s comparison that much more egregious.

And, as historian and writer Ibram X. Kendi has noted, analogies like Matthews’s aren’t just flawed and offensive — they also undermine a greater understanding of history among American voters.

There’s a reason Godwin’s Law has frustrated many: comparing everyone whose politics you dislike to Nazis can make it more difficult to pinpoint actual Nazis when they do show up. The controversy surrounding Matthews is another example of this, albeit a very high-profile one.

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