We Should Really Stop Using The Word Nazi to Refer to Things Other Than Actual Nazis
A peculiar but troublesome trend has developed, mainly here in America, over the last two years or so. My guess would be somewhere around the time Donald Trump took office, it became more and more common to hear the term Nazi — outside of your sophomore social studies room and The History Channel. Certain people began using it to refer to anyone they didn’t like and policies they didn’t agree with. It became a way of turning the general public against someone before facts were heard. Few people stand with the guy who’s been labeled a Nazi. And rightfully so when the word is used even semi correctly. However, it’s recently been thrown around loosely on blogs by folks who couldn’t tell you what Auschwitz was. Can we talk about how incredibly ignorant, insensitive and offensive that is?
While I refer to it more often than I should and it may sadly be my proudest internet moment to date — I got into a Twitter beef with rapper Talib Kweli sometime last Fall. I’ll spare you the irrelevant details, you can read the full story via the link above if you’re interested. I bring this story up because the result of it was Talib Kweli referring to me as a Nazi when he ran out of logical arguments to make. I didn’t say a single hateful thing, not towards an individual or group — yet I was called what most people associate with one of the most evil men whoever lived — a Nazi. Despite my lack of association with the National Socialist German Workers Party and the Jimi Hendrix shirt I was wearing in my profile picture. As I told Talib, I don’t know much about Nazis but I feel like they weren’t huge Hendrix fans.
Ironically enough, the most woke rapper on Medium then went on to write an article a few months ago about white nationalist groups and actual Nazi’s — or at least something more closely resembling such anyway. I don’t know, I didn’t take the time to read the article because he lost all credibility with me when he referred to me as a Nazi. If his perspective is that skewed and delusional, this is not the man who should be leading discussions on race.
One of the most famous episodes of Seinfeld is “The Soup Nazi” episode. It centers around a new soup shop that opens up in Jerry’s neighborhood, where the soup is fantastic but the owner who serves it is kind of controlling and militant. They go on to dub the owner “The Soup Nazi”. While the episode is funny, it’s meant to be. The humor is in how absurd it is to label someone as extreme as a Nazi over something as trivial as soup. Though far less funny, what we see happening with the word today is almost just as absurd.
Look, I dislike Donald Trump as much as the next guy but he’s not a Nazi. In fact, if you’re referring to someone outside of Germany, who wasn’t alive between 1920–1945, they’re probably not a Nazi either. As by definition, a Nazi is a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party. I just think it’s a term associated with such awful events, it should be reserved for when referring to precisely that rather than used at will as propaganda, to further personal political agendas. It should be used by history teachers to inform their students of the events that led up to and occurred during World War II — so they know how ignorant they’d sound using the word as loosely as some do today. It shouldn’t be used by disgruntled millennial hipsters to refer to the cop who gave them a parking ticket. Because when it is, it’s minimizing the insane amounts of suffering millions endured at the hands of actual Nazis.