ACCORDING to “Godwin’s law”, as any discussion on the internet goes on, the likelihood of someone being compared to the Nazis or Hitler increases. But when is a comparison to Nazi Germany appropriate to make?

Not when referring to the Tories’ dehumanising language about asylum seekers in Britain today, as Gary Lineker discovered last year.

Aside from his brief suspension by the BBC from presenting Match Of The Day as a result of his comments, which ended after many of his colleagues chose to boycott the programme in solidarity, Lineker was accused by none other than former home secretary Suella Braverman of “diminishing the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust.

Certainly not when comparing the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza – even descriptions of the ongoing atrocities in Palestine as a “genocide” have been routinely denounced as offensive and antisemitic.

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MP Kate Osamor can attest to this as she has now been suspended for nearly two months from the Labour Party for listing Gaza amongst the genocides which should be remembered on Holocaust Memorial Day.

But if you’re talking about the First Minister and leader of the SNP’s wish for the Tories to lose their seats in the upcoming General Election, well, an outright comparison to the Nazis is perfectly acceptable.

At least, that’s the impression one could come to from BBC Radio Scotland’s decision to air a text from a listener who reacted to Humza Yousaf’s stated aim to use this election to “make Scotland Tory free” by describing this as “Humza’s ‘final solution for dealing with the Tory problem’.”

This, of course, is a reference to the chilling euphemism used by Nazi Germany’s leaders, who said the Holocaust was their “final solution to the Jewish question”.

The National: BBC Scotland has declined to comment after Kaye Adams chose to read a comparison between SNP

The comment, read out by BBC presenter Kaye Adams, characterised Yousaf’s comments as “slowly getting rid of all political opposition, this is the rhetoric of the 1930s” and asked whether Scots who vote Conservative are to be “banned from expressing their opinion”.

There are so many levels on which this offensive that it’s hard to know where to start. What is most concerning about it, though, is that this comment wasn’t buried somewhere in the dregs of the replies on social media – it was read out on our public broadcaster as if it was a legitimate contribution to a debate on party politics in Scotland. If this is how low our public discourse and mainstream media have sunk, I truly despair for the future.

To draw any sort of comparison between a politician saying he wants to beat an opponent in a free election to the Nazi practice of imprisoning political opponents in concentration camps where they were mistreated, starved, and even killed, is as absurd as it is insulting to the victims.

To invoke the term “final solution” is so inflammatory that any sensible public broadcaster would surely have considered how this simultaneously belittles the murder of six million Jewish people and perpetuates dangerously divisive rhetoric about our politics today.

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In light of the floods of faux outrage in recent days about the First Minister’s remarks, which were made in a speech to party activists in Perth, there is something acutely hypocritical about how readily this sort of rhetoric is accepted when it’s targeted at the SNP.

We’ve learned that Tory MSPs and MPs are shocked and appalled by the “divisive rhetoric” of a political opponent not wanting them to be re-elected, while columnists and commentators worry that it “normalises abuse”, and broadcasters have dedicated whole segments to examining the implications of the comments.

Oddly enough, the same level of alarm over the concept of electoral politics was not expressed when Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said in a New Year’s message published on LabourList that “every corner of the United Kingdom wants to get rid of these morally bankrupt Tories”, or indeed when he told the Scottish Labour conference last month: “the sooner we get rid of this entire shower of Tories, the better”.

The National: Anas Sarwar

Arguably the use of adjectives and the official collective noun for Tories makes these remarks more insulting, but I suppose a media storm about whether Scottish Labour are hurting the Tories’ feelings just wouldn’t be as interesting.

At this point, these inconsistencies are not surprising, but they are worth pointing out because they call into question the sincerity and the integrity of any media outlet framing these remarks as somehow controversial when they come from one person’s mouth, but not another’s.

The real double standard, though, lies in the willingness – or lack thereof – to interrogate and challenge genuinely offensive and extreme language, even where it lends itself to your own aims or “angle”.

There has been a normalisation of abuse in politics, but it doesn’t come from politicians saying they want to win elections, it comes from the platforming of voices like the one Adams read out on her radio show. Voices who rely on shock value to get attention but who, if taken seriously, risk inciting hatred and even violence.

Recently, there have been a few too many examples of media complicity in cultivating a narrative around Yousaf as “extreme” in some way or other.

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Couple this with an almost absolute disinterest in calling out offensive language and accusations made against him, and it becomes clear that much of our media class is ill-equipped to comprehend, never mind communicate, the nuances of racism that still permeate our society.

Consider The Telegraph’s front-page splash earlier this month which intimated that the First Minister had overruled advice on donating to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) to provide aid in Gaza with a hidden agenda of securing safe passage out of the region for his wife’s family members, sprinkled with undertones about the UNRWA’s alleged links to Hamas. Yousaf justifiably called this out as an “outrageous smear” and “far-right conspiracy”.

Now the BBC is, without challenge, broadcasting irate comments from members of the public who believe Yousaf wants to impose his own version of a “final solution” onto Scotland.

It doesn’t take a dog to hear the whistling when a Muslim politician with connections to Palestine is being equated with an ideology which sought to exterminate the Jewish race. Nor should it take a genius to appreciate the risks of amplifying provocative language about a political leader who belongs to a minority currently facing a surge in hate crimes.

There has been a lot of talk about the safety of elected representatives and the impacts which the language we use can have on that. It would be shameful for such an important topic to be used only to score political points and disregarded when it’s pragmatic to do so.

It’s depressing to note that the public criticism which has emerged around the comments on Adams’s show has come overwhelmingly – if not entirely – from pro-independence voices. When it comes to the tone of political discussion that we consider acceptable in our country, constitutional and party politics have to be irrelevant, or we have all already lost.