Basically, there's a Harry Potter RPG over on IJ which titled itself Kristallnacht. The premise is exploring what would happen if Grindelwald (who is posited as a Hitler-like figure in the books) hadn't gotten defeated. Anyway, people protested that using the name of an actual historical event was offensive, and some of the people supporting the Kristallnacht name did not respond well. (Though they have since changed the name to Hexennacht.)
As the furor was going on, fox1013 made an icon which says: "Things Which Can Reasonably Be Compared To The Holocaust (a list): 1. The Holocaust."
My immediate reaction to the icon was some hesitancy, because of course I think comparisons can be useful in understanding things, but Holocaust (and/or Hitler) comparisons get made so frequently and so loosely that I would really be okay with some kind of unofficial moratorium. (An official moratorium would offend my libertarian sensibilities, but if people made more of an effort to stop and think about the criticisms they really wanted to invoke, rather than knee-jerk invoking the biggest baddest evol they can think of, I would be happier.)
Before I went to bed last night, I saw a couple commenters (mecurtin and furies) on her post problematizing the icon, so I was mulling on that as I went to sleep, and one of the things I thought of was that yes, there have been other genocides and etc., but the Holocaust is so complex that bits are always lost when comparisons are made, especially because the Holocaust/Hitler is usually invoked not so much as a comparison but as an equivalency, which sets up a straw man argument which helps no one.
Today I read the discussions that stemmed from those comments and herein c&p excerpts:
Fox said, "In the real world, yes, there are many events of genocide which can and should be discussed together, providing context as well as a growing horror that these things keep happening." (She went on to say that her icon was intended to be understood in the context of the fannish discussion she was referencing in the entry in which she used the icon.)
CallunaV weighed in on the criticism of the icon, saying, "Will it help if I say that I think the point here is not that nothing has ever been as atrocious as the Holocaust or ever could be, but that the Holocaust was a unique event, an atrocity which is unlike any other, and should not be invoked casually, like name-dropping in the atrocity cocktail lounge?" (She went on to say other smart things, but I think that snippet really encapsulates it so well.)
furies pointed out that, "if we insist that each event is a separate, unique, incomparable point in time, we lose what makes this happen again and again, albeit in different parameters," and also commented that, "i think americans in particular have a certain way of 'fetishizing' hitler as the ultimate 'evil' that it paints a portrait we again don't have to think about. if hilter is banned to this place of 'evil' that we make unique, we don't have to think about the parts of ourselves and our neighbors who shared things with hitler, or how deep national myths touch people, or how people continually look for scapegoats and messiahs in times of crisis." I can't speak to whether Americans do it more than anyone else, but it definitely happens -- cf. Zygmunt Bauman's Modernity and the Holocaust (one of the great books I read in SOC 101).
amireal pointed out that, "the things that led to Darfur are not the things that led to The Holocaust are not the things that led to any other moment in history that can be labeled Genocide" (which also makes me think of discussions about labeling things "genocide" vs. "mass murder").