Stop Saying Nazi

11/01/2019

It’s a word that has been doing the rounds for a few years now, and as a result has entirely lost its original mean. Sure mild comparisons can be made between some actions today to those of the 1930’s and 40’s, but something tells me that the modern ‘Nazi’ is not quite as fanatically genocidal as the real 20th century version.

For starters, Trump is not Hitler. The man is abhorrent, but not even he would be mad enough to actually invade Central and Latin America with the intention to kill millions of them, and I doubt the majority of his support base would condone that either. Trump is many things, but he can hardly be considered the rebirth of Nazi ideology. He screams about fake news, but he has not moved to take down the media. He uses Muslims and people of colour as scapegoats but the majority of the US sees through it, and don’t promote literal genocide. He lies about and slanders the Democratic Party but the Democratic Party has not been the victim of political assassinations – in fact, they won back the House. Say what you will about the lack of democracy in the US, but in a true dictatorship that would not have happened.

Calling people Nazis does not make them a Nazi, and calling them that just because they happen to disagree with you sets a dangerous precedence. If someone voted leave in the Brexit referendum it does not make them a Nazi. If someone thinks there should be stricter immigration laws it does not make them a Nazi. If someone questions some controversial elements of Islam it does not make them a Nazi – do we call people who criticise the Catholic Church Nazis?

Are the above fears wrong or misguided? Absolutely, but calling these people Nazis achieves nothing and is by no means an apt comparison. Further proof that the word no longer has meaning is that it isn’t only the ‘hard right’ that gets that label. Depending on where you are on the political spectrum, there is bound to be someone who considers you a Nazi. You believe in socialist or communist ideals? You’re a Nazi. You think gay people have the right to marry? You must be a Nazi. You call people who disagree with you Nazis? What a Nazi thing to do.

You get the point – all of the above are quite frankly stupid, and I wrote Nazi so many times that it really just means nothing. Everyone uses the label, and everyone receives the label. How did we get here? How did the name of a movement so horrifying and so vicious become a casual term for people we disagree with? Just stop. Converse, educate, listen, find common ground with these people. Do you have to like the saluting morons who were at St Kilda over the weekend? No, and you’re allowed to find their views offensive because they are. But comparing them to Nazis over ignorant actions won’t convince them your argument has any credibility. Address their issues, tell them why they’re wrong, explain to them better policy alternatives. If they refuse to listen then sure, they’re daft, but it still doesn’t make them Nazis.

Reserve the term for the real thing. There are more troubling issues in the world than some cranky white people yapping on about immigration, and if you feel threatened by them then work to help them understand. Because obviously insulting and trying to silence them has not worked.

 

Liked this? Read What Is History?: A Reflection Pt.4

Previous piece: No Cure for Ignorance, Only Better Ignorance

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