I’m someone who is not rash to judge. I try not to correct the grammar of people on the Internet. Especially the ones on Facebook. You know that image that’s frequently shared? The one that says, “I’m silently correcting your grammar”? That’s me.
But whenever someone shares that image, I would bet you my last dollar that someone will respond who is just as dedicated to good grammar as I am. And their response? Something along the lines of, “I’m such a grammar nazi.”
I can’t decide what makes me flinch more–that the word is used at all, or that it’s worn as a label and with pride.
Because being any sort of nazi is nothing to be proud of. I’m not quite sure when it became a simple word. Is it a noun? An adjective? What, exactly?
Merriam-Webster defines it as follows: “a member of a German political party that controlled Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler; an evil person who wants to use power to control and harm other people especially because of their race, religion, etc.”
So this word I see used so freely? I do not think it means what you think it means.
I have a request for everyone out there. For you, your friends, my friends, neighbors, loved ones: Let’s stop tossing the word nazi around, shall we?
I know, I know. Free speech, Sure. It’s your prerogative. But I don’t like it.
And yes, yes, “Seinfeld” did it. The whole Soup Nazi schpiel. And I guess I laughed. Maybe I didn’t know better to be upset by it then. Maybe I thought the same as everyone else. Something simple like, OK, it’s weird–but it’s on television. Jerry Seinfeld is Jewish, isn’t he? It must be ever-so-slightly funny.
But you know what?
It’s not funny. Not at all.
It’s not a word you should use.
So my apologies if this makes you feel a little bit guilty. And forgive me if this ticks you off. Because of course I’m not intending to upset you any more than you’re trying to upset me. But when you use that word–that’s exactly what you do.
Enough is enough. So please, don’t use it.
You’re not, nor will you ever be (I so hope) a true Nazi. Ever. And the people you might be referring to when you use it? Neither will they.
It takes away from the word when you use it so freely. There is one meaning and one meaning only that matters for that word. And you should think of it the next time you’re ready to throw it out there.
Think of those people who suffered. Lost so very much. And shelve the word. We live in America. There are so many other words out there you could choose. Consider doing so.
Your Jewish friend thanks you.