Schneider: Stop using ‘Nazi’ as a slur in political conversation

As our political climate becomes one less about tolerance and more about labels, it’s important to remember the history behind what you’re saying.

Ellen Schneider

As our political environment grows increasingly polarized, people become more and more shameless in their touting of party politics and holier-than-thou philosophies. What I think people don’t realize though, is that in the age of Donald Trump, it’s not just right-wing, Make America Great Again, hat-wearing Republicans who are using name calling to provoke the other side. Everyone seems to be stooping to Trump’s level in lieu of discussion or substance. The most popular and problematic name-calling as of late has been to label each other “Nazis.”

This has grown real traction in the last year or so, as politicians and corporations alike degrade one another to that standing of the most hated group in history. To do this, and to mean it, is to dismiss the gravity of what the Nazis did. 

I’ll be honest, I don’t like Trump — not as a person and certainly not a president. But the man is not a Nazi. He has not committed mass genocide, he has not waged war on the world nor has he tried to create a master race. We should not disregard the deaths of millions of people by labeling conservatives as Nazis simply because you may disagree with what they have to say. Having differing viewpoints on health care is not the same as persecuting millions for their religious beliefs, race or sexual orientation.

If you think this is only happening in the depths of liberal extremism, you’re wrong. In May, Google listed “Nazism” as an ideology of the California Republican Party. Many conservatives fear their beliefs are continually undercut by companies who write them off in this way, and they should be concerned. No matter how you politically identify, it’s important to consider viewpoints that are different from your own. Continuing to disparage opinions you disagree with by calling those who hold them Nazis proves that you cannot defeat them with superior logic, but instead must rely on sinking to their level.

I want to specify that in discussing Republicans and conservatives, I am not in any way referring to the illusive alt-right, those who associate with Unite the Right, self-proclaimed Nazis or white supremacists. I am not defending nor am I dismissing the very real threats that those groups pose. I realize that many of these people support Trump, and that he has not always been as quick as I would like in dismissing them as illegitimate and dangerous extremists. But, that does not make Trump or anyone else who is conservative a Nazi or white supremacist. In fact, Trump took the liberty of enforcing the deportation of one of the last-known Nazi death-camp guards in the U.S., after he was spared for years by the hurdles of bureaucracy.

I also do not want to dump all the blame for the name-calling and emotion-provoking statements, instead of actual discussions, on the left. I think both parties are to blame for this shift towards intolerance. Actually, it’s not just Democrats calling Republicans Nazis. Donald Trump Jr. drew comparisons from the present day liberal platforms and that of the 1930’s Nazi party, after viewing a movie which claims that the left has — somehow — rewritten history in their favor. 

Before you claim that you’re above these behaviors, bear in mind that “Minnesota Nice” will not save you from them. The 2018 midterm elections are expected to be some of the most contentious our state has ever seen. We will not be spared from the same poor political tendencies as national issues prove to become more pervasive.