I was just tooling around online and saw this article. Full disclosure, I haven’t read it yet. I don’t know whether or not I agree with the author’s stance. I’m actually wondering about this increasing use of the term “nazi.”
Nazi used to refer to a member of a genocidal political party that believed their way of life and belief was superior to all else.
Increasingly, “nazi” is used as a descriptor for someone who is annoyingly strident in their views: A breastfeeding nazi, a feminazi, a grammar nazi.
On the one hand, I always feel vaguely disturbed and disgusted by this trend — yes, yes, let’s compare a fervent defense and affection for linguistics to a political party that advocated racial superiority and the murder of millions to ensure it. That’s not at all hyberbolic.
On the other hand, I wonder if by using the term “nazi” like this, we’re normalizing it and taking away it’s power and horror. If we are, is this a good thing? Does it make the Nazi party from something that could possibly, by some, be admired for their drive into a linguistic quirk indicating ridicule? In just 70 years, we’ve made the Nazi from a figure of nightmare terrors and reliable villains into a campy cliche villain trope and an appellation of irritation — “Stop being such a spelling nazi, jeez.”
It’s interesting to ponder. I don’t know what it means, or if it means anything. I don’t know what kind of world we would shift into if we continued to hold the term “Nazi” in horrific, hushed regard. I mean, you wouldn’t think that making a negative term essentially untouchable would be bad, but it does end up imbuing a certain sacred terror to the term, a sacred terror which is far more damaging in the long run than simple ridicule.