You've got to begin with who you know you are to be a revolution. — Jars of Clay

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Can we leave Nazis to Germans in the 1940s? 

It started happening about a year ago. I started noticing the pretty careless use of the term Nazi by media folks and public officials. Here in Lexington, Ky. we had just enacted a smoking ban, and some radio folks were referring to police out enforcing the ban as using "Nazi" tactics. Excuse me? Were they throwing people up against the wall? Were they putting them on trains and sending them off the concentration camps? Were they doing ghastly medical experiments on them because they lit up in the wrong place? No, they were accompanying health department officials who took on the task of approaching bar owners and smokers. The Nazis. The most recent example, of course, is the senator from Illinois. Of course, talking about U.S. treatment of prisoners raises the stakes a bit, but does calling someone a Nazi or comparing them to Hitler do anybody any good? Does it add to the discourse? No. It's a hot button word that is rarely applicable in most situations. Let's leave addressing people as Nazi's to Germans in the 1940s and come up with some better adjectives to make our points.

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