I've gotten into somewhat of a Twitter snit with a guy. I'm doing my best to keep to one point and not trying to argue and go off in wild tangents, since 140 characters is a really, really bad medium for that.
What happened is that a tweet came across my feed, which compared Israel's actions in Gaza to what Hitler did to Jews. Yes, yes, I know it's a fool's errand to debate such things (and as I said, I'm trying not to), but some things I can't let stand without correction.
In 140 characters, a couple of times, I said (and repeated) that if he wanted to be angry at Israel or not, fine, but comparing Gaza to Adolf Hitler's systematic round-up of Jews to put them in concentration camps and annihilate the race was far off-base, and it might be best to stop making the argument. Mind you, there was a lot more I wanted to say, and significantly more bluntly, but even that above was more than the allotted 140 characters. And besides, I knew that if I ratcheted up my language it would only serve to inflame him. And I didn't want to inflame him. I just wanted to -- a) politely ridicule him, b) get him to see he really was just hurting whatever argument he was trying to make, and c) make sure others saw the comparison of Gaza to Hitler's Nazi Germany was being disagreed with.
To be clear, again, if someone ever wants to criticize Israel, it's a fair argument. It's a more fair argument if they also criticize Hamas. But it was clear from the first, when "Hitler" was tossed in, that "fair argument" was not on the agenda.
It will not shock you that he kept yammering back, though at least he did put in there something about "maybe it's not exactly the same." Honestly, I don't know what other points he was making in subsequent tweets since I knew if I'd read them it would only serve to infuriate me and suck me in deeper, but my eye did catch certain buzz words, and it looked pretty stupid. But then, how could it not? Which was another reason I had no interest in continuing to read his explanations of why anything about this was even "sort of" like Hitler.
It's become apparent in recent years especially that "Hitler" has become such a buzz word for describing someone doing something bad. Wait, sorry -- what I meant to say is, "Hitler" has become such a buzz word for ignorantly describing someone doing something bad. Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany didn't simply do something bad, or even really bad, or even appalling and shockingly bad. And it galls me when I see people ignorantly diminishing the historical, inexplicable horror of a meticulous, planned "final solution" to wipe an entire race of people off the face of the earth. And then take over the world.
Alas, 140 characters just isn't a great platform for giving a history lesson. It's even a poor platform for telling someone off -- particularly someone who started off by referring to his respondent as "you guys." You just know it's going to be a losing battle for calm reason when a discussion has "Israel" anywhere involved, and the phrase "you guys" is used... And so, writing back, "You are an ignorant anti-Semitic racist who clearly doesn't understand history nor likely read it, and truly in all seriousness don't have the slightest clue of what you are trying to talk about," just isn't likely to get a response back that will make the world a better place.
At the moment, though, I've actually made headway. This morning I received back one whose first sentence leaped out -- "I'm sticking to my point that Gaza was blockaded." Well...yeah, because that's just, like, exactly the same as Adolf Hitler, the Final Solution, ovens, and Auschwitz. And then another , "We both agree to disagree." Now, truly, in most circumstances, I actually would accept that as near-total capitulation is Twitter Land and move on. It's clear that he's completely backed off. So, time to drop it. But -- well, Adolf Hitler is simply not one of those "let's just disagree" give-me-a-hug issues. And I haven't spent all this time to "agree to disagree" about something I wasn't ever arguing in the first place -- most especially when that point was Adolf Hitler. I'm sorry, but der fuhrer doesn't get off that easy. So, to make that very clear, I politely but bluntly replied, that, no, in no way did we agree to disagree, because Gaza is not Hitler. And left it at that.
I was sure my good pal would write back something anyway. And so he did, and I saw an actual opening to end all this. What he replied was that going back went through all his tweets, he couldn't find a mention of Hitler. (Mind you, I'd think one shouldn't have to check your notes to see if you compared something to Hitler, but...well...never mind) That's a leap in the right direction. Of course the original note had, in fact, compared Gaza specifically to Adolf Hitler, and when I disagreed, my good buddy jumped in immediately to defend it and say that Gaza was "right up there, pal." And he kept defending that, whether or not he himself used the name. (I had no interest in going back to check, and didn't remotely care since Gaza isn't even distantly "almost the same" as Hitler and the Third Reich.) But I threw the olive branch by noting that if, in fact, he didn't believe that Gaza was at all like Hitler, then great! So, the end is in sight.
So, being blunt, polite and unrelenting may actually allow resolution on Twitter!
But no one gets a pass to agree to disagree about Adolf Hitler.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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