I have long felt that the taboo on comparing anyone to Hitler and many similar inhibitions were based on a confusion between “compare” in the senses of “liken to” and in the sense of “compare and contrast”, and this answer on Science Fiction & Fantasy gave me the idea of asking here how to express this effectively.
The formulations that occur to me are
- “liken A to B” for “suggest that A is (very) similar to B” (sometimes risky)
- “compare and contrast A and B” for “consider various attributes of A and B and evaluate how similar they are in each such attribute” (usually useful),
but the latter seems a wee bit long-winded. Wiktionary suggests “compare A to B” and “compare A with B” respectively, but I am not convinced that that distinction is widely recognised. There is perhaps also the sense of using one feature of something well known to make a description more effective (“thou art more lovely and more temperate”), but that seems more a matter of rhetoric than of a pitfall in thinking.
Can anyone suggest preferably terse and widely recognised ways of expressing these senses unambiguously, and of pointing out that someone is confusing them?