Last week a youtube video gained widespread notoriety for depicting elementary school students singing a cute, pro-Obama ditty. One parent frantically complained to the media that it was just like Nazi Germany indoctrinating the children.
Funny, I remember Naomi Wolf arguing a couple years ago (in the bestseller The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot) that it was the presidency of George Bush that was setting the table for the return of the ominous Deutsch goose-step.
In the same way that charges fly over which position, movement or person represents the return of the Third Reich, so debate exists over who is responsible for the original Third Reich.
In Richard Dawkins' bestseller The God Delusion, the phenomenon of Nazi Germany is seen to be rooted deep in the soil of Germany's Christian anti-Semitism.
But in the 2008 documentary Expelled the origin of Nazism is tied intimately with (scary organ music please): Darwinian evolution.
Thus we see here two effective ways to attack a position, movement or person with which you disagree. Either argue that it/him/her is contributing to a revived Third Reich, or blame it/him/her for the original Third Reich.
(Presumably it would be a double whammy if you could argue that it/him/her is responsible both for the original Third Reich and its potential return.)
There many not be much of substance to the vast bulk of these charges. But they are notoriously effective at shutting down rational debate and cool analysis.
Nazi Germany may be the most effective slur, but it is certainly not the only one: be aware of other rhetorically effective bugaboos including communism, socialism (a current favorite in the national health care debate), liberalism, fascism (a common charge against conservative evangelicals: see Chris Hedges' book American Fascism), and fundamentalism (speaks for itself!).
And on that note, I await the day when people begin throwing their ShamWows in the trash based on unsubstantiated tabloid reports that pitchman Vince Offer harbors sympathies with national socialism.