Sticky Reputations: Adolf Hitler and the Stigma of Memory Work Th e fi nal chapter evaluates the power of a fully established reputation. In most cases the claims made about reputations shape the reputation of the target, but in a few cases they aff ect the reputational entrepreneur. Th is is particularly true when the reputation at issue is sharply defi ned and widely consensual. In some cases, the attempt to shape established reputations can rub off on the reputational revisionist. Th ese are what I label as sticky reputations. In this chapter I describe the consequences of the eff ects to revise or modify the reputation of Hitler by those who attempt to provide challenging or discordant views of the German leader’s reputation within the American political context
Adolf Hitler is always with us: our dark Elvis in what has been cynically labeled “Shoah Business” and the “Holocaust Industry” (Finkelstein 2000). Hitler matters. He is oft en described with grandiose phrases, such as the “most evil man in all of history” (Hart 1992: 208). Th e discursive power of the image of Führer is recognized in “Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies,” a humorous claim that suggests that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one” (Godwin 1993). If you object to someone, he is a Hitler. By propounding this maxim, Mike Godwin hoped to dissuade netizens from using Hitler’s name promiscuously to denigrate opponents. British courts have limited the practice of using “Nazi” as an insult (McFarlane 2010).