Why We Should Stop Using ‘Nazi’ To Describe Anything Else But Nazism
This is going to be a rant but it is truly one of my pet peeves to see people use the word nazi to describe anything but a person who is a follower of Nazi Party doctrines.
It perturbs me to no end to hear people describe others who correct their grammar as ‘grammar nazis’. They aren’t. Nazis and Hitler were the perpetrators of evil the likes of which the world had never seen before and hopefully never sees again. Don’t compare people who correct the way you spell, speak, and write – no matter how much you hate being corrected and how belittled you feel when they do it – to the Nazi regime. Doing so makes light of the estimated SEVENTEEN MILLION PEOPLE* who were victims of the Nazis. They can be grammar sticklers or even grammar perfectionists. They aren’t Nazis.
Similarly, don’t refer to politicians like former US President George W. Bush or current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a ‘nazi’ or compare them to Adolf Hitler. Don’t compare democratic politicians who don’t wage genocidal campaigns – no matter how much you hate their policies – to the Nazi regime. Again, doing so makes light of the estimated SEVENTEEN MILLION PEOPLE* who were victims of the Nazis.
Now I’m sure there are people who are going to tell me that Prime Minister Harper and President G.W. Bush are downright evil. They’ll tell me that these world leaders did things that abrogated people’s rights in some way or another. You may be right and you may be wrong, that isn’t for me to decide and I am not going to argue the point. What I do know for certain, though, is that they haven’t dehumanized people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. They haven’t put eugenics programs into place and inspired an entire country to do things that are downright evil. They haven’t industrialized murder, the Nazis and Hitler did.
The earliest reference to someone who wasn’t a Nazi being called a Nazi which I know of was by Jerry Seinfeld & Larry David in their show ‘Seinfeld’ in the episode called “The Soup Nazi.” I’m not going to pretend like I know for certain that this was the first usage of the term to describe someone who’s a stickler for getting things a certain way but it is the earliest one I can remember. Also, not going to lie, when I saw this episode and in the numerous times I’ve seen it in syndication I have laughed. Truth be told, it was a pretty darn funny episode. However, as I write this post and reflect on the use of the word Nazi to describe anything but actual Nazism I wonder if this episode wasn’t out of line in using that word in a way that it shouldn’t be used. Nazis, Nazism, and their doctrines are things to be learned about and reviled. Unless you are making fun of the Nazis for being evil bastards and just making them look foolish it shouldn’t be something to laugh about.
Remember folks, we live in a world where teens today are not aware that the sinking of the Titanic happened in real life. An astounding number of people born in the past 20 years – as evidenced by a conversation on Facebook I recently saw and a Globe & Mail article I read – thought that the sinking of the Titanic was just a movie. There is a famous saying by philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
– George Santayana
Let’s make sure we don’t warp this important lesson of history and the relegate the horror that the Nazis visited upon humanity to a reference of people who annoy us when they correct our usage of “your” instead of “you’re.”
*Six million Jews and eleven million other people which includes groups such as Poles, Soviet citizens, Romanies (also known as Gypsies), the mentally ill, the deaf, the physically disabled and mentally retarded, homosexual and transsexual people, political opponents, and religious dissidents.
Information on Nazi murders via Wikipedia entry “Holocaust Victims” viewed on April 11, 2012.
Annoying Facebook Girl image taken from funnyjunk.com.
Book with corrections in it taken from Microsoft Office.
Picture of Pres G.W. Bush & PM Harper via Wikimedia Commons.
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