One side effect of the coarsening of political dialogue has been the increase in the level of the rhetoric. Sheltered by the comforting distance of an internet connection or a microphone, it’s easier to ratchet up the venom and the bile. Sometimes, it seems like it’s a competition to see who can toss out the nastier remark. It’s gotten so bad that a law has developed that predicts that nearly any political discussion will eventually degenerate into calling one another a Nazi.
Now, I’m no true scholar of World War II and Nazism, but I have done quite a bit of studying on the matter. And I also haven’t done an extensive study of the Nazi philosophies, I do know a little about them. (Part of it is that a good portion of my ethnic heritage would qualify as Hitler’s idea of “The Master Race,” and I get aggravated about what he and his would-be successors are doing in my name.) And I think I can say pretty comfortably that Hitler’s philosophies embraced the worst aspects of both the left and the right.
Hitler was anti-Communist? He was also pro-Communist, right up until he invaded Russia. He was against racial equality? He was also in favor of gun control, even gun confiscation. He was against minorities? He was also the patron of the beginnings of genetic research and experimentation. The Nazis were extreme nationalists, as reflected in the first part of their party’s name? They were also socialists, as reflected in the latter part of the name.
Tossing around the term “Nazis” cheapens the term, and lord knows the term doesn’t deserve to be diluted. The original Nazis were one of the greatest forces of oppression, violence, death, and — yes — EVIL the world has ever seen. And they aren’t all gone; we still have occasional flashes of Neo-Nazis, as shown in Boston recently.
I feel “Nazi” should be treated with the same respect as I do swears. There are some words that are so powerful, so useful, so perfectly suited for certain circumstances that they should be reserved for just those occasions. To use it whenever you simply don’t care for someone’s politics cheapens it, and cheapens the price the world paid for putting an end to Hitler’s regime.
And it dishonors the millions who died from it.