Just a word?

Posted on: July 27, 2009

I am more than a little disturbed by the current trend to throw around the word ‘Nazi’.  I recently heard a teacher described as a hat nazi because he insisted that students wore hats outside, in accordance with school policy. And of course, there’s the phrase ‘feminazi’ as a way of painting feminists as people out to destroy everyone’s fun. Have people forgotten who the Nazis were and what they did? As I remember, trying to reduce the incidence of skin cancer wasn’t high on the real Nazis’ list of activities, nor was trying to create a society in which women weren’t judged solely on their appearance.

On Google, you can add just about any word to Nazi and get a result – food nazis who insist on healthy food, Scrabble Nazis who follow the Scrabble rule of not letting people check words in the dictionary before they put them down, Monopoly nazis, library nazis, kitchen nazis, blog nazis. Even ticket nazis, who commit what is apparently the grossest of human rights violations by issuing fines to people who drive above the speed limit. 

Once again – that is not what Nazism was about. Or what it is still about, with the rise of neo-nazism movements all over the world.

Someone will no doubt invent the term ‘nazi-nazi’ for someone like me who finds it offensive that people use the term Nazi to cover the invoking of any rule or anything else they find inconvenient. And then say ‘What does it matter, it’s only a word’. I don’t happen to believe there is any such thing as ‘only a word’. Especially not when it’s a word like ‘Nazi’.

5 Comments

  1. Karl , says:

    The use of the term does offend me too. I ask people to replace ‘nazi’ with ‘fascist’.

    I think too much light has been made of this use of the word ‘nazi’, eg Seinfeld and the Soup Nazi.

    I also feel that nazis have been over-stigmatised (at least comparatively) when compared with other brutal regimes which had/have policies of ethnic cleansing.
    We should not be concentrating so hard on one evil regime in the past, and completely miss other, equally evil regimes (Rwanda, Darfur, Yugoslavia, Palestine to name some), especially those which are here and now.

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  2. Susan , says:

    Yeah, too right. This is similar to the idea of calling someone schizophrenic in their choice of music, or saying something shows schizophrenic designs, when the writer means conflicting, or eclectic. Schizophrenics have to deal with a lot of stuff in their lives (for example learning how to spell their disease) without being confused with another mental illness anyway!! (bi-polar is the illness that is often confused with schizophrenia)

    Reply
  3. katiemelb , says:

    Bravo, Judy! Great post. I especially love the last paragraph.

    Reply
  4. janice merrett , says:

    Judy I do so agree with you regarding the miss use of the word nazi. We should not regard it as a suitable insult for anyone who ‘gets up our noses’! So, now, like you I am probably regarded as some sort of nazi!
    Regards
    Janice Merrett

    Reply
  5. cherylynn , says:

    I agree Judy the real nazis were horrendously evil and use of the incorrect prefix is an obnoxious and demeaning description of the worst of humanity and very counter productive.

    Reply

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