Ms. Geek Speaks: Check that Meme

So someone posted a meme that I was able to show was not factual and the response was something like this: There’s a saying in Germany–if one Nazi is setting at a table with 10 people, there are 11 Nazis at the table. The person making this response isn’t German by nationality but by descent.

My thought was this was a fallacy of sweeping generalization as in guilt by association, a fallacy of emotional appeal and playing the Hitler card. But it is something far worse. It isn’t really a commonly known German saying.

This week, I discovered that someone I had known in dance class and had danced with was a virulent Islamophobe. He’s still be willing to dance with me, but I realized I don’t know that much about some of the people I dance with. I don’t know much about the politics of the people I do agility with because we talk dogs and dog trials. I am aware that many of the dog breeders I have brushed shoulders with are conservative and voted GOP, but just barely aware. So all this brought me back to the saying and so I traced its source. The source seems to be this tweet by Dr. Jens Foell in 2018.

The respondent CrimsonKnight87 (@LonelyRoad1987) had a valid point. I thought of the brave Black American man who has been sitting at a table with racists and changing their minds. The man, Daryl Davis, is a musician and there was a 2016 documentary, “Accidental Courtesy,” that aired on PBS. So I agree with

If you read the thread you’ll realize that Germans contest whether it really is a widespread saying.

Looking at Reddit, there’s further proof this isn’t a widespread or well-known saying in German.

“Accidental Courtesy” suggests that this type of thinking is wrong and that by reaching out without condemnation and engaging in a conflict, one can change how a person thinks, but it takes time, patience and tolerance. This is contrary to conflict theory.

As a logical argument, the Nazis at a party is guilt by association. The guilty by association fallacy is an ad hominem fallacy. The only exception is: “If one can demonstrate that the connection between the two characteristics that were inherited by association is causally linked, or the probability of taking on a characteristic would be high, then it would be valid.” The advice of is: “People change. Be forgiving of one’s questionable past associations, especially if they realize and admit those associations were wrong.”

Playing the Nazi card or playing the Hitler card is also Reductio ad Hitlerum. Clear examples of this go along the lines of Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore vegetarianism is wrong. Then there’s the famous Hitler was against smoking and Hitler, Franco and Mussolini didn’t smoke so anti-smoking people are wrong. According to this article, “the Nazis had one of the strongest anti-cancer campaigns” that focused on curtailing the use of tobacco.

As the Nazis and Hitler are, for the majority of people, hate groups and the majority of people do not want to be associated with Hitler and the Nazi regime and the European World War II Holocaust, because such an association elicits disgust or even fear of association, this (playing the Hitler or Nazi card) is a specific appeal to emotion.

Instead of engaging in conflict theory, I suggest there is a better way and people should read about men and women like Daryl Davis. Davis also has a Changing Minds podcast. I used the logo for the Change Minds podcast because I believe that Daryl Davis has a plan and is a good example of how one can change minds.

I don’t know if I can change the mind of the two particular Islamophobes that I’ve been in contact with on FB. I’ve posted facts that refute their claims and other notations. What I have done is learned more about Islam (I am not Muslim) and about logical argumentation. So that is a intellectual win.


  1. That misses largely what the saying means. The 10 other people at the table for a regular interaction are implied not to take any issue with the man’s Nazism as they don’t even ask him to leave and they talk to him as if nothing is amiss. By not taking any issue, it means that they think his political views, ie virulent racism and anti-Semitism are acceptable, or at the very least tolerating something that shouldn’t be tolerated.

    It’s more akin to “silence is complicity” and “you’re judged by the company that you keep”: don’t allow bad actors into your company.


    • Let’s start out with this. On Twitter and Reddit, there is a question as to if this is really a German saying (versus clickbait). All references links back to a specific Twitter account.

      Second, the people are talking. That doesn’t mean “silence is complicity.” As for a “regular interaction,” you mean like having a meal with relatives?

      Third, the person played the Nazi/Hitler card, which is also a fallacy just as “guilt by association.” Consider the meal situation again.

      Fourth, did you both to look up Daryl Davis. While other people suggested the approach of Davis, I specifically mention him.


      • CrimsonKnight87:

        Yeah but isn’t that type of thinking wrong too? Yeah I don’t like what they believe but how can we change them into better people if we don’t even try talking to them? More than one Nazi has changed because of talking things out.


Leave a Reply to Mímir (@eyeofthephantom) Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.